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Backup setup suggestions wanted for Xserve RAID


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I'm looking for tape drive suggestions to backup a half-full and a full Xserve RAID - ie a solution for 7 x 500 GB drives in RAID 5 (site A) and a solution for 2 x 7 x 500 GB drives in RAID 5 (site B)

 

 

 

We have less than TB online at each site at the moment. We plan to keep the RAID & tape drive in service for 3 years by which time I would assume the RAID would be full

 

 

 

We need to be able to backup 2-3 Gb data each week so we can rotate between two tape sets & keep one set offsite. I'd like to be able to backup a sizeable proportion of the data over one night in a backup window about 12 hours long, so speed to tape is an issue. I can deal with one or maybe two tape swops per week but not more. Ideally we'd have no tape swops mid-week and this should be possible in the first year when the server storage is less than 1 TB

 

 

 

The host G5 Xserve at each location has one slot taken up with the fibrechannel card for connectivity to the RAID which leaves one slot free for SCSI (for a SCSI-connected tape drive) or for a video card, but not both!

 

The options I see are:

 

 

 

1 - Run Retrospect on the Xserve with a video card. This his means we can't have a SCSI card so we'd have to try to get the budget for a fibrechannel tape drive and a fibrechannel hub. Frankly I don't think that's a goer.

 

 

 

2 - Attach the tape drive to another machine and backup the RAID across the network as a mounted volume (unless there's another way to do this)

 

 

 

2a - [edit] Install a Fibrechannel switch (at site A with G4 & G5 Xserves) and interconnect Xserves & RAID via Fibrechannel, run G4 Xserve with existing SCSI card, AIT drive & Retrospect, backup RAID directly via Fibrechannel [/edit]

 

 

 

3 - Timbuktu to an Xserve without a video card which is running Retrospect with a SCSI card & tape drive . AFAIK it's impossible to use TB2 where there's no video card

 

 

 

At site A we currently have a G4 Xserve (we're adding the G5 & RAID with 7 x 500 Gb drives) and an AIT-2 loader with 230 GB capacity uncompressed

 

 

 

At site B we have a G5 Xserve, a RAID with 14 x 500 Gb drives and a Tandberg LTO-2 StorageLoader with 1.8 TB capacity uncompressed

 

 

 

You can assume we'll have the latest OS versions, that we'll be running OS X Server, that we will have ATTO SCSI cards and that Retrospect will be the server version and will be up-to-date

 

 

 

What solutions have people settled on for backing up their Xserve RAIDs?

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks!

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We have a smaller setup than you (with Apple Hardware RAID card on the 3x250 GB internal drives), but I'll make some suggestions:

 

(1) Retrospect runs fine on our headless Xserve G5 (Mac OS X Server 10.4.5) using Apple Remote Desktop. Check it out at the Apple Store. It's a very nice product for managing an Xserve and your networked computers, and is much more than just a VNC equivalent. For Retrospect purposes, you just log on to the Xserve from an admin machine running ARD. The ARD client comes standard on all 10.4 installs (server and non-server) so you can manage all 10.4 machines without installing any software on the Xserve.

 

(2) Check out the Exabyte VXA-2 and VXA-320 1x10 1u PacketLoader devices. They seem to match your backup requirements well. We've got the Exabyte VXA-2 1x10 1u PacketLoader SCSI (they have SCSI and Firewire versions) with the ethernet admin interface (only available on the SCSI version, I believe). The 10 slot autoloader (we use as 9 slot plus cleaning cartridge) lets it work unattended. The VXA-2 and VXA-3 (for the VXA-320 drive) cartridges are the same, just formatted differently. A VXA-2 cartridge holds 160 GB compressed (we are seeing about 118 GB with Retrospect) and a VXA-3 cartridge holds twice that. See:

Exabyte site If you look around, you can find the VXA-320 1x10 1u for just about the same price as the VXA-2 1x10 1u, which seems to indicate that the VXA-2 is about EOL. And if you think about it, you save big bucks just on tape costs alone (at $70 per tape) filling the autoloader if you get the VXA-320, because of the 2x tape capacity of VXA-3. And Exabyte has larger capacity drives, too, if these don't meet your needs. Some people have reported DOA units (which were quickly swapped out), but we haven't had any problem with ours, and the support has been great. The VXA-320 firmware seems to have stablized, so it's past the "new product shakeout" that happened last fall. We had problems with Retrospect and the Apple SCSI BTO card for the Xserve G5 (really an LSI Logic 22320 Dual-Channel SCSI card), but had no problems after we swapped that out for an ATTO UL4D SCSI card.

 

(3) using ARD means you don't have to have a video card. But I have a Sonnet video card to put into the Xserve in an emergency when things get really deep. Haven't used it since the initial configuration setup, and it's not in the Xserve (because we don't have an open slot - Apple Hardware RAID, ATTO UL4D).

 

We do several GB a day backup (networked computers and Xserve), and have no problem with the nightly window - takes about 90 minutes including tape motion and Retrospect scanning, compression, etc. Even when we do the full backup (about 85 GB) it has no problem finishing during the night. Wish that Retrospect had remote admin and disk-to-disk-to-tape, but not right now...

 

If you used VXA-3 (VXA-320), 9 cartridges would be about 2.5 TB (using realistic Retrospect numbers), so you could have both backup sets in the autoloader at the same time, thereby keeping one on-site set in the autoloader all the time and swapping out another every day or so. That's what we do.

 

Regards,

 

Russ

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Russ

 

Thank you, exactly the kind of info I was looking for!

 

I have high hopes of the Tandberg StorageLoader. We'll see how it works out. I posted a request for info about it on this forum a while ago and got no replies so I assume no-one's using it (or no-one wants to talk about it) which is strange as it is qualified for use with Retrospect

 

Retrospect remote admin cannot come soon enough

 

 

Regards

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I would suggest you consider Firewire hard drives - you can get 500 or 600G in a single disk now, and attach more than one at a time.

 

I used LaCie drives at my last job, and I've recommended a similar setup to a customer at my current job. Their Triple-Interface and Big-Disk models have FW 800, so not all that much slower than SCSI and probably faster than any tape drive.

 

Disks are also a dream if/when you need to restore - almost zero seek time compared with tape :-)

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Re backup to disks

 

We're already backing up to disk and have experienced all the usual problems with that setup. Discs are not suitable for weekly offsite backup as they're not robust enough and Firewire connectors don't survive regular plugging & unplugging

 

We've had appalling experiences with the La Cie drives mainly, I believe, due to underspecified power supplies. Specifically the drives would refuse to mount, give read & write errors, and/or refuse to power up. The latest single-drive La Cie Big Discs come with a higher-rated psu but even with La Cie's help we can't find a part code to order them as replacements for the earlier drives

 

I've recommended these drives in the past and been badly let down. I won't do it again. If I wanted to backup to disc I'd suggest getting another Apple Xserve RAID. It's specified & built for 24/7 use and proper support is available

 

For clients with significantly more modest backup requirements external drives have their place but, unfortunately, I don't think they can replace tape for these clients

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Quote:

Discs are not suitable for weekly offsite backup as they're not robust enough

 


So what do you do with them ? The handling guidelines for tapes aren't much less restrictive than for (powered off) hard drives.

Quote:

and Firewire connectors don't survive regular plugging & unplugging

 


Well for a weekly backup you're looking at 1-2 connections/week. If you rotate several sets then divide that by the number of sets average - so 4 sets would be 25-50 pluggings/year.

 

Quote:

If I wanted to backup to disc I'd suggest getting another Apple Xserve RAID. It's specified & built for 24/7 use and proper support is available

 


It's also expensive, bulky, and not exactly portable for off-site use !

 

Quote:

For clients with significantly more modest backup requirements external drives have their place but, unfortunately, I don't think they can replace tape for these clients

 


 

I guess it's one of those YMMV things - we had none of the problems you described. The disks were transported to our warehouse by the van driver and we never had one damaged (though we did have a better than average van driver as far as looking after stuff goes !). The smaller disks would go in a 'cash box' along with tapes from the other systems, the big drives went bare as they didn't fit the boxes.

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