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NHS trust cuts backups with Spectra Logic disk backup and tape

Morecambe Bay NHS trust slashes backup window from 24 hours to less than six in a move to Spectra Logic disk-based backup

An NHS hospitals trust in north west England has deployed a Spectra Logic disk-based backup appliance and tape library in a move that has seen it cut backup windows from almost 24 hours to less than six. 

It has also slashed restore times from hours to seconds and regain 25% of the capacity on its EMC VNX SAN.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) – which has datacentres at three hospital sites – had previously sent backup data direct to its two EMC VNX SANs, with data being staged off to a Quantum Scalar 24 library after that.

Initially, in 2009, this has comprised only 5TB on each array, but as volumes of backup data grew, this approach became economically challenging, said Stephen Ion, technology manager at UHMBT.

He said: “With the amount of capacity we needed for backup it was not sustainable to keep it on the VNX, so we wanted to get it off there. It just didn’t make sense to keep backups on primary storage.”

UHMBT has 230 servers in total, of which 150 are virtualised on VMware. Total volume of backup, which operates alongside failover between hospital sites, has grown to about 25TB as the trust protects specialist clinical application data as well as email and office productivity files.

Backup has been managed by CommVault software since 2009, when it replaced islands of different departmental-level backup software.

With backup to the VNX becoming more costly and potentially unscalable as the SAN neared capacity UHMBT looked for an alternative.

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It evaluated and rejected NexSan and an EMC archiving product on grounds of cost and was recommended Spectra Logic by a supplier. “The price point was good and it had announced a partnership with CommVault,” said Ion.

So, the trust deployed a Spectra Logic nTier Verde disk-based backup target with 77TB of useable capacity and a T50e tape library with room for 48 1.5Tb cartridges. Data is backed up to the nTier Verde disk for seven days for quick restores but also immediately goes to tape.

The move allowed the trust to migrate around 18TB of data from the EMC SAN, something like 25% of total capacity.

The benefits centre on being able to hold data on disk for faster restores for a longer period, said Ion.

“We can now keep backups on disk for longer as it is dedicated capacity, and we can restore from there quickly if we need to. Restores were complex and time-consuming and we had to stop the constantly running tape libraries during backups to do them,” he said.

He added: “High capacity LTO-5 tapes take pressure off physical space. We had been using [200GB] LTO-2 and would have needed to buy another fire safe as we were nearing capacity but that would have been challenging.”

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