Security is a requirement for any IT system. The bigger
the set-up, the greater the volume of transactions and the higher the amount of stored
information that needs to be protected. This is reason enough to ensure that a
companys security provision is as good as it can be. In the case of assurance and
pensions company Swiss Life, there is also the Data Protection Act to consider which
obliges the company to safeguard financial information and client data. Daily, secure
backups are essential if Swiss Life has to recover any lost data and these back-ups have
to take place at times of low network activity short and rare in a large
international organisation. Swiss Lifes UK head office in Sevenoaks is supported by
a national Client Service Centre of over 275 staff in Liverpool. The Client Service Centre
is the administrative hub for all of the client information relating to its employee
benefit, personal finances and investment products. The company has implemented an
automated, central data management solution using an ATL 7100 DLTtape library that
provides total data back-up and restore functionality for the Service Centre, replacing
the former platform dependent and ad-hoc manual process.
ATLs 7100 DLT library was designed for storage intensive applications in
mission-critical environments. It can store up to 3.5 terabytes and delivers data at
speeds of up to 126 gigabytes per hour whilst providing continuous access to hundreds of
networked users; these figures are doubled with 2:1 compression. The cartridge handling
system, IntelliGrip, uses a gripper system to select DLT tape cartridges from top and
bottom in a manner that reduces drive stress and minimises surface contact to increase
overall library reliability.
|IT set-up at
Swiss Life, Liverpool:
- HP Unix servers with on-board DAT drives and Compaq NT rackmounted
servers of varying sizes.
- 1 HP T6000 Series 800 corporate server with over 138 GB of usable
- 1 HP 9000 K460 Series 800 Development server with over 80 GB of
- 1 HP D350 server with approximately 100GB of usable storage, used for
- 1 HP server which acts as the ATL backup server, connected via the
- Approximately 18 NT servers, including one server for DIP with its
own HP Surestore Optical Storage Unit. Total possible storage here is over 600 GB
- LAN over ATM backbone with 100 MB full duplex connections to servers
and up to 100 MB half duplex to the desktop
Windows NT and 2000 explorers Andy
OBrien (Exp) spoke to Danny Hulligan (DH), Security
Co-ordinator at Swiss Life, about the ATL 7100 library and the difference it has made to
Swiss Lifes ability to ensure secure access to its systems.
Exp: What does the ATL 7100 do for your company?
DH: It provides on-line access to recent copies (back-ups) for up to ten working
days worth of history as well as enabling us to carry out essential back-ups on a daily
basis. It also lets us create copies of those backups which can then be stored off site.
This work is carried out during normal working hours and is automated, therefore limiting
the amount of operator interaction. Before the ATL and Legato Networker
software we had to have a huge number of drives per server, the HP DAT drives were
reliable but numerous and caused an administrative nightmare for normal or disaster
recovery. NT had used various equipment and software over the past five years but was
standardising on DLT. The problem was that first it was DLT2000, and then
DLT4000 using standalone machines, or as the number of NT servers grew, dual drive
machines. The tendency was to buy more drives as we bought more servers and this was
getting out of hand.
Exp: How do you manage the ATL solution?
DH: The ability to deal with just one device (although currently with three
drives) is a major benefit. When we had numerous DAT and DLT drives creating many backup
tapes it often took a full day to administer each previous days back-up and copies.
Now one person can administer the lot in a couple of hours as everything can be automated,
the pre-arranged jobs need tapes to be removed or added as required. This leaves people to
get on with other work. The ATL is driven by an HP Unix box its
the back-up software that deals with the fact that we run Unix and NT. The ATL simply
writes the back-up data presented to it by the HP back-up server and doesnt care
whether it came from an NT or an HP box.
Exp: How will this implementation facilitate future projects?
DH: It has given us the confidence that as we add more and more storage, our
ability to back it up will be there. Its true that in the short term we might reduce
the number of days worth of on-line copies, but we can add up to four more drives to the
ATL, thereby at least doubling our current backup capability. One example of new
development is our DIP equipment. Before committing to Optical, the DIP server will at any
one time have many gigabytes of cached images to back up every day. Our ATL can cope with
this with its current configuration and if not, we simply add additional drives. When we
were looking for a new solution, we did try to take growth into consideration and at the
time, we felt that our figures were a little over the top. Experience has shown us that we
had, in fact, underestimated what level of storage we might get to in the timescale
originally envisaged. The solution has so far coped and we are confident that it will deal
with further expansion for some time yet.
Exp: And so to sum up, what are your overall impressions of the ATL 7100
DH: We liked the ATL because it offered a cost effective unit which fitted our
requirements scalable as far as slots and drives go and also fast. It does have
some mechanical problems, for example when tapes get stuck in the gripper, but as yet,
these are not seen as dangerous to the efficiency of our back-up schedule. We may possibly
have been wiser to use a different Unix host but preferred to keep our Unix systems under
one version. My own personal belief is that Swiss Life must look at the storage concept
and try to centralise it rather than have individual servers all handling their own number
of disc drives etc. In this way we would be able to have duplicated storage centres
images of each other, with back-up solutions, like our ATL, taking full dumps of one at
pre-determined times. I feel that at some time we must recognise requirements for
archiving and HSM, particularly as storage will grow and grow.
In the pipeline
To date, the emphasis for Hulligans department has been to develop a solution for
the Client Service Centre at Liverpool. That focus has now moved to the head office in
Sevenoaks where an ATL P1000, with 3 DLT7000 drives and 16 slots has recently been
installed. This is expected to bring the same benefits (admin, automatic cloning etc) as
the Liverpool office. It is unlikely to be extended to the branch offices as they are too
small. Other changes will be influenced by the Internet where e-commerce will undoubtedly
create a need for secure all year round access to Swiss lifes systems. Resilience of
the systems supporting e-commerce will be critical and this will certainly include
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