Ontrack Helps Companies Manage Legacy Tape Archives (Pt. 1)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 by Michael Nuncic


When we introduced Ontrack® DataAdvisor™, our solution for cataloging and managing legacy tape backups, in January of this year, it became a huge success in the market. Since that time it's become apparent that companies all over the world have been waiting a long time to finally get an easy-to-use and cost-efficient solution to manage legacy tape catalogs, without the need to maintain outdated backup software and old tape hardware solutions.

For many (and most likely all) companies, having the ability to quickly access data on legacy tapes for external and internal reasons is a must.  However, since such inquiries don’t occur very often, the maintenance of the necessary equipment is a costly and difficult task.  Additionally, it requires special know-how, changing defective parts, getting needed drivers, frequent cleaning - and last but not least –  the payment of sometimes high license fees.

With the introduction of Ontrack DataAdvisor, all of that is now unnecessary.

Here are some examples of global projects already accomplished with our web-based solution over the last nine months:

Global IT services corporation uses Ontrack DataAdvisor to provide legacy restores to its newly obtained client

An IT service provider’s new UK client had gathered more than 80,000 tapes over a decade. The formats used were a mix ranging from LTO-1 to LTO-6, as well as other completely different formats. The tapes held data from multiple aging backup products, but due to technical, physical and financial constraints, the client´s backup services, originally hosted by another IT service provider, could not be transitioned to the global IT service provider. That’s when they looked for a solution and decided to utilize Ontrack DataAdvisor.

The first step for the client was to provide the backup catalog database files, which were uploaded to a secure Ontrack FTP site. Once completed, the development engineers converted the multiple backup catalog database files into a single common format, which was completely independent from the previous backup software catalogs. The new catalogs were ingested into Ontrack DataAdvisor and provided a consolidated view of all the legacy backup catalogs in a single and easy-to-view inventory.

The IT services company is now able to quickly respond to their client’s legacy restore requests and meet strict SLAs by easily identifying the content of their client’s tapes and locating necessary files by using the Ontrack DataAdvisor web portal.

French investment bank uses Ontrack DataAdvisor to decommission its legacy tape backup systems

Following a merger, the IT department of a French investment bank operated and maintained several tape based backup solutions in friendly coexistence.  Along with maintaining three different backup system, both entities now stored a total of more than 68,000 tapes combined in their enterprise archive. Not only were there tape formats ranging from LTO-2 to LTO-5 being used, but also DLT and SDLT cartridge formats.

The French bank decided first to import catalogs of a total of 12,839 tapes from all backup solutions and tape formats into the Ontrack DataAdvisor web portal. Since only 80 percent of the cataloged tapes were still available, the first step was to create original catalogs from the missing 20 percent (2,750 tapes). Once all tape catalogs from the original backup systems were available, independent catalog files were created and ingested into Ontrack DataAdvisor.

Now the catalogs of almost 13,000 tapes were consolidated within one unified backup catalog. The employees of the bank are now able to identify data located on legacy tapes for legal or regulatory examination quickly. The investment institute is now looking for extending the solution to cover the remaining 55,000 tapes. This will allow them to fully decommission all legacy backup systems.

Check for other interesting cases on how our clients are now using Ontrack DataAdvisor to solve their specific demands in the second part of this article.

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