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Data Domain beats out EMC for law firm's remote data protection

International law firm Norton Rose uses EMC storage, replication and failover for its headquarters, but picked Data Domain over EMC to protect its data at branch offices.

International law firm Norton Rose is an EMC shop for most of its storage gear, but chose Data Domain over EMC for data deduplication and replication of its data at branch offices.

Head of systems delivery Malcolm Todd said the firm has 25 Clariion systems ranging from CX400 models to CX3 models at its London headquarters and main disaster recovery site just outside the city, as well as two Celerra NAS boxes, Centera CAS archiving systems and redundant Clariion Disk Library (CDL) 4106 virtual tape libraries (VTL).

Most mission-critical systems are kept at the firm's secondary site in London. Norton Rose uses EMC's MirrorView/Asynchronous and MirrorView/Synchronous applications to replicate mission-critical Exchange and SQL databases and a document management system between the London sites. "This April we had a flood in the area of our head office thanks to some burst water mains," Todd said. "It took out power at headquarters for two-and-a-half days, but since our production systems are primarily at our office outside the city, we didn't have any downtime or lose any business."

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The mission-critical applcations have been tested three times at a 15-minute recovery time objective (RTO) using the storage area network (SAN). Still, Norton Rose also began making disaster recovery copies of data to a Data Domain DD565 array since last year and uses Data Domain's replication to send data between the primary and secondary sites to protect the SANs. Todd put the Data Domain systems in when his firm wanted to move away from its aging CDLs, and EMC didn't yet have the target-based data deduplication products it now sells through a partnership with Quantum.

ROBO data protection addressed separately

It took longer for the law firm to arrive at a plan for its 20 remote offices spread out from Europe to Asia. Bandwidth eventually dictated the decision. "We had to decide whether we wanted to centralize our remote office data at the front office or keep it dispersed at branch offices," Todd said. "We don't have any WAN links over 2 Mbps, and it would take many days to restore a backup in one of our international branch offices from headquarters." This was about as long as it had already been taking to ship tapes between branch offices.

Norton Rose re-evaluated EMC and Data Domain's offerings last summer for distributed data protection among remote and branch offices. EMC offered the Avamar Data Store hardware for the 12 largest branch offices, with Avamar software agents for the smaller offices. Data Domain's proposal was for two DD530 arrays, 10 DD520 arrays and eight DD120 arrays.

The physical footprint of the boxes was the chief factor in pushing the firm further toward Data Domain. "If we bought the Avamar software, we'd still need storage to put the data somewhere," Todd said. That's why EMC pitched the Avamar Data Store preintegrated hardware and software appliance. "The way EMC drew it up for us, it took up most of a rack," Todd said. "The Data Domain boxes are between three and six [rack units]. The Avamar Data Store wouldn't have physically fit into some of the offices."

EMC's offer was also about twice as expensive as Data Domain's offer, and neither vendor discounted the price to win his business, Todd said. Finally, EMC's offer would've required the replacement of the company's Symantec Backup Exec software with EMC's Networker, which is integrated with Avamar.

Norton Rose has rolled out Data Domain boxes to two of the branch offices, with the rest scheduled for deployment before the end of the year. Branch offices are also standardizing on EMC's CX3-10 systems for primary data and Hewlett-Packard's BladeSystems for application servers. The company has kept its Overland tape libraries in London and plans to archive data to tape after retaining it for 13 weeks on the main DD565 arrays.

The Data Domain boxes at branch offices will back up email and document management data using Backup Exec, replicating their system images back to the DD565 at headquarters. Data will be kept at headquarters to standup virtual machines to replace the branch office if there is an outage. The Data Domain boxes can also be remotely administered to perform restores at the branch offices from headquarters, and Todd now estimates a remote office/branch office (ROBO) RTO of four hours.

SaaS will be added to remote data protection plan

Norton Rose is also looking to add a third product for data protection in its remote offices – Dell/MessageOne's email archiving SaaS, which has two weeks left to go in the testing process.

The law firm will use MessageOne to create a 31-day temporary archive of email for continuity during an outage at branch offices, Todd said. "MessageOne captures each message and would allow our users access to their email during downtime, as well as letting us replay the new email transactions not captured by our backup software to bring systems up to date during recovery," he said.

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