Tape library powers business continuity for Globus' retail operations

A detailed overview of how business growth made it necessary for Globus Stores to opt for a more sophisticated backup device: a tape library.

The next time you shop at Globus Stores, do take a moment to think about the backend IT infrastructure that helps this Indian retail player create such a comfortable shopping experience. Globus was launched in 1998, when the retail revolution began sweeping across the country. Today, Globus has 24 outlets across India.

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One of the important elements of Globus' current IT infrastructure is its tape library, which made its way into the company's Mumbai-based data center in early 2009. "We have been running applications such as JD Edwards (JDE) ERP, JD Armstrong (JDA) for billing, and a customer loyalty program (CLP) solution, for which we need regular backups," says Sabu Oommen, the manager of IT infrastructure for Globus Stores. For solutions, especially the CLP, backup needs to be taken on an hourly basis. Earlier, Globus relied on the normal backup which came with the storage device.

Since the time had come to look for a tape library, IBM, HP and Dell were shortlisted as the potential vendors. Finally, the organization went in for IBM. Oommen explains this decision: "The pricing and support were quite similar for all vendors. The main reason that we selected IBM for our tape library was because both the other vendors used IBM chips." Also, the IT infrastructure at Globus was predominantly IBM, which swung things in favor of the vendor. Thus, technology called the shots for the selection.

The tape library implementation was done in three phases. The first was the planning phase, followed by identification. This phase consisted of different types of backups (as in what needs to be backed up, how it needs to be backed up, where it needs to be stored, and backup windows). Planning took up the most time—actual installation of the tape library took only a day. Future backup requirements were also taken into consideration while planning the tape library.

The storage capacity of the tape drives is at 1.6 TB, whereas data storage has a capacity of 700 GB. Different applications such as JDE, JDA and Internet access are in use at 35 locations across India. At the Internet back end, different pictures and different kinds of interactions are constantly being uploaded, which is constantly backed up. A SQL database is used at the back end, along with RAID 5. The tape backup is attached to a high-end Dell 700 server (memory capacity of 6 GB and running on a dual core processor).

For Globus, daily incremental backup is the most critical aspect. The backup windows consist of hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly backups. These backups are then sent offsite.

Talking about the tape library implementation's benefits, Oommen says, "Around March 2009, we were in a soup, as one of our servers went down due to virus issues. However, we were able to successfully restore the entire system from the tape library." The time delay that happened for this operation was around two hours, and the entire system was restored within that period.

If the IT team at Globus was to do the tape library implementation all over again, it would first and foremost consider the writing speed as the main factor. For the future, Globus' team plans to have immediate disaster recovery and a different level of hardware to restore data. As of now, the company's data is being restored to the same set of hardware.

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