EMC Corp. announced that Mid-Continent Group, a subsidiary of the Great American Insurance Group, has used EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems to completely automate and streamline backup and disaster recovery processes for its IBM i environment. By leveraging native Data Domain support for IBM i operating environments, Mid-Continent was able to achieve a broad scope of cost savings and operational benefits, and manage their data growth without the need for tape.
Mid-Continent's use of the EMC backup and recovery product portfolio spans both its open systems environment and IBM i environment. For its open systems, the company deployed EMC Avamar deduplication backup software and system, EMC Networker unified backup and recovery software and Data Domain systems. With the introduction of native support for IBM i environments, Mid-Continent elected to extend the success it first experienced with EMC Data Domain to its IBM i environment.
EMC Data Domain has enabled Mid-Continent to eliminate tape to reduce its disaster recovery time from 4 to 5 days to approximately 4 hours. In addition, disaster recovery testing for mission critical IBM i systems and data is now simple, predictable, and repeatable. Mid-Continent's IBM i environment now requires no human intervention for backup or recovery verification. Time is no longer spent managing tape-based backup processes or locating and transporting tapes for recoveries.
With its implementation of Data Domain systems for IBM i backup, Mid-Continent has achieved significant savings on tape library hardware maintenance and tape transportation service costs, while fully eliminating physical tape across the enterprise. Mid-Continent is now able to address its 40 percent annual data growth and has replaced multiple racks of backup equipment with a Data Domain deduplication storage system, saving on power, cooling and space requirements.
Prior to engaging with EMC to implement next generation disk-based backup and recovery solutions, the Mid-Continent Group IT team was feeling the pressures associated with protecting data that was growing at 40 percent annually. Its tape-based backup infrastructure was expanding exponentially and hundreds of tapes were constantly in a state of rotation between its data center and an off-site 3rd party tape storage facility, requiring resources to manage and cover offsite shipping and storage costs. The addition of a virtual tape library provided some relief, but backup storage requirements continued to mushroom as its data grew, while recoveries from tape remained a protracted four-to-five day process.
Mid-Continent's IBM i PowerSystem houses mission critical data and applications, including rating, accounting and statistical systems that are vital to its insurance business. The company currently uses EMC Symmetrix Remote Data Facility (SRDF) software for synchronous replication of data to a disaster recovery site, where backups are performed. Mid-Continent was able to use their existing IBM BRMS software to back up their IBM i system data to a Data Domain deduplication storage system to eliminate tape completely, realize significant improvements in its backup and recovery processes and reduce capacity requirements.
"With tape being used, the DR timeline for our IBM i series was 4-5 days,” said John Pullen, IT Development Manager, Mid-Continent Group. “In our latest DR test with EMC backup and storage technology, we were up and running in four hours. With Data Domain, we've completely automated our [IBM i] backup. No hauling tapes. No misplaced tapes. No costs associated with off-site storage. No chasing our data growth or adding power and floor space. We back up about 9.5 terabytes of IBM i data every night, and it's easy for us to keep a year's worth of IBM i data online."
"Four years ago, we were backing up to a huge tape library,” said John Gunnells, senior iSeries administrator, Mid-Continent Group. “We were managing hundreds of tapes and were always behind the curve in terms of backup. Then we engaged with EMC and began to implement their next generation disk-based backup products. Our IBM i system data, however, remained a challenge and we had to maintain these legacy systems to address backup and DR for our IBM i environment. Thankfully, with the availability of the Data Domain solution for IBM i systems, we were finally able to go completely tapeless—and it's been great. EMC has provided the right solution for us every step of the way."
"The Data Domain solution has been one of the most cost effective enhancements we have implemented in my time at Mid-Continent,” said Brock Lyons, system admin manager, Mid-Continent Group. “We were faced with expanding our data center footprint by 12%, adding additional power, and adding a significant amount of heat at two sites. With the Data Domain solution we were able to shrink our footprint, avoid additional power costs, and reduce the amount of heat in our data centers."