Data Center Solution Saves Blacksburg, Va., Time, Money and Headaches

Blacksburg, Va., implemented a disk-based backup system to replace a legacy tape-based predecessor. The results improved how the city handles data.

by / November 6, 2008

The town of Blacksburg, Va., replaced its legacy tape system with a disk-based solution to improve backup processes in its data center. The equipment - the Sentio Pro 2000 6TB Disk2Disk2Disk data-protection appliance from Revinetix - saved Blacksburg time and money, and spared IT workers headaches from worrying about losing crucial data.

"Not only were we chasing a hardware problem with replacing an out-of-warranty and failing tape backup drive, we had tape backup software that was out of warranty and would require a significant investment to get that up to a current version," said Steve Jones, Blacksburg's director of technology. Revinetix issued a press release in October 2008 about the deployment.

Jones said Blacksburg paid about $25,000 for the disk-based solution, which was much less than it would've paid for new tape-drive hardware and the requisite software licenses. The town's Technology Department used several tape drives, but not all of them were the same type.

The Technology Department was planning to replace its nearly four-year-old tape system with another tape system when it acquired its new budget in July 2008, but a critical data loss in January 2008 forced Jones and his staff to speed things up and change plans.

"The tape backups were not completing on some jobs, and then on other jobs, the tapes got corrupted," he said. Even newer tapes were causing the same types of problems.

With the disk-based system, Jones and his colleagues don't have to worry about tape degradation. Sentio hardware includes dual-core Intel processors, gigabit and fast Ethernet controllers, and dual-redundant power supplies. These add up to a reliable storage option that allows personnel to back up data quickly and in various drives simultaneously.

After the January failure, department personnel floated ideas and vendors around until one staffer attended a technology conference in April and obtained a Revinetix case study about a deployment in Overland Park, Kan. Blacksburg was soon sold on the vendor's solution.

"We started checking into Revinetix and the more we checked into it, the more we liked it," Jones said. They viewed a WebEx demo and spoke with vendor clients who all had positive reviews of the solutions.

Blacksburg purchased a server box and eight hard drives in summer 2008. Jones said it took staff one hour to assemble and install the equipment. In two days, most of the data center servers were configured for the new backup system.

Hilton Collins

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.