Magazine Article | April 1, 2000

Tape Storage LibrariesSupport Dot Com Companies

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Providing the infrastructure for dot com companies to get their start requires a well-conceived data storage strategy. Bay Data Consultants tackled this challenge by implementing a SAN (storage area network).

Integrated Solutions, April 2000
Starting and running a successful business is a big challenge. It's tough enough for established companies to be profitable. For start-ups, the deck is clearly stacked against them. Armed with a new product or service, however, new companies continue to spring up. And, frequently, the names of these new companies often end in dot com.

For Atlanta companies trying to establish themselves in this new economy, there is a new place to go for assistance. Bay Data Consultants, headquartered in Atlanta, has established a dot com incubation project that goes by the code name "The Creek." "We call it an ‘infrastructure for enablement,'" states Chris Walker, senior enterprise storage consultant for business development at Bay Data Consultants. "Our customers have ideas for dot com businesses, and they have secured the funding. But, they need a facility with the proper infrastructure to get their new companies started."

Bay Data Consultants has such a facility. The $85 million company owns a co-location facility that helps fledgling dot com companies. The facility offers high-speed connections, managed firewall services to ensure security, and necessary hardware to run applications. "Essentially, we are leasing the pipes, computing power, and security. We also provide our customers with 24/7 technical support," comments Walker. "Additionally, we have a SAN (storage area network) that provides centralized backup."

Walker may be one of the storage gurus at Bay Data Consultants. However, the 180-employee company also has expertise in Internet security and major platforms, such as Oracle, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems. The company was founded in 1997 by a group of Atlanta-based integrators.

Tape Backup Is At The Center Of SAN
For now, four dot com companies are housed in the co-location facility owned by Bay Data Consultants. But, after the infrastructure is established and the scalability tested, the number of dot com companies will likely quadruple. In the future, the storage needs will be enormous. Implementing a SAN was a logical choice, according to Walker. However, Walker spent more than a month working out connectivity issues between different vendors and their products.

"The primary storage devices are RAID (redundant array of independent disks) products from EMC (Hopkinton, MA). The SAN is powered by Veritas Software's (Mountain View, CA) Backup Exec. Using a bridge from Crossroads Systems (Austin, TX), we connected tape libraries from Exabyte (Boulder, CO)," explains Walker. "We maintain the backup tapes on-site, and we also have a local company that rotates the tapes and store copies off-site."

For its tape backup, Bay Data Consultants chose two automated libraries from Exabyte. Both use the company's MammothTape Technology. Depending on the backup needs of each customer at the facility, data can be stored on either of the two libraries. The larger of the two automated libraries is the Exabyte X200. It has a maximum storage capacity of 30 TB (terabytes) and throughput of up to 1.08 TB/hour. The other library is Exabyte's X80 model. It is scalable to 12 TB of total storage with a throughput of up to 864 GB/hour.

"The X200 model is scalable to 10 drives and 200 tape cartridges, but we are buying a base model with four drives," says Walker. Walker's engineering knowledge also led him to choose Exabyte. He adds, "At a facility like this, electrical power is a major issue. We looked at all comparable models, and Exabyte libraries pulled the least amount of power. Also, these models generate less heat and are the most compact."

Extending Customer Relationships
Ultimately, Bay Data Consultants wants to help companies start from nothing and then carry them through to the IPO stage. As with any incubator, however, its occupants will eventually mature and venture out on their own. The same will happen with the customers in Bay Data Consultants' co-location facility. But, this does not mean the end of the relationship.

"After companies move out of our co-location facility, they will need new systems. And, we are there to design these systems for our customers. At that point, these companies will have money from an IPO, and they can afford a new system and our services. After all," concludes Walker, "we designed their original systems when their companies started. It only makes sense that we design systems for their new homes."

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