Plug and Play & Remote Site Backup
ATL LanVault makes protecting data simple.
Suppose you have 30 people
working in a branch office in Cincinnati. The Internet makes
it easy for them to stay in touch, but what about backing
up their critical data? In the past, your choices were to
have all that data sent back to the main office, to train
someone in Cincinnati to act as the IT gopher, or to ignore
the problem and hope nothing ever goes wrong. Now ATL (a Quantum
company) has delivered a better solution: the LANvault network
The LANvault consists
of two pieces joined by a SCSI cable. The first is a Quantum
tape drive: either a DLT4000, capable of 40G per cartridge
at 3.5M per second, or a DLT7000, which holds 70G per cartridge
at 5.0M per second. (Those numbers include an allowance for
compression; cut them in half for uncompressed files.) The
drive comes in a tape changer unit that holds seven tapes
and a cleaning cartridge. The second box is a server running
Windows NT 4.0 in a “headless” configuration, without
keyboard, mouse, or monitor. On the back are connections for
a power cable and a 10BaseT Ethernet cable (either 10 or 100MPS).
Together the two units are about nine inches wide, 24 inches
deep, and 12 inches high, and weigh about 60 pounds. The industrial-strength
cooling fans make the LANvault a bit noisier than the average
desktop computer, but not so noisy as to be a problem in an
The total capacity for
the seven tapes ranges from 140G for the DLT4000 with compression
turned off to nearly 500G for the DLT7000 using compression.
That should be enough for the backup needs of most small and
branch offices. If it’s not, ATL is preparing a second
model, the LANvault 500, which will feature two DLT7000 drives
and 14 cartridges for nearly a terabyte of backup capacity.
I was able to back up
data within an hour of the FedEx guy arriving at my front
door with the pallet loaded with boxes. LANvault’s instructions
start with “Installation instructions inside this box”
and stay easy from there. Connect the boxes, load the tapes,
plug it into your network, and install the included software
on a network server, and you’re ready to roll. There’s
a simple program that runs to detect the LANvault and properly
configure its IP address. If your network uses DHCP, the LANvault
will get an address that way. With a minimum of telephone
support it should be easy to get this up and running in any
office, whether you’ve got an IT staffer there or not.
Depending on the model
chosen, LANvault installs either Veritas Backup Exec or CA
ArcServeIT on your network server. Either of these packages
is capable of easily backing up all the machines on a network
to a single device. (MCP Magazine reviewed both packages
in the October 1999 issue).
The installation manual even walks you through completing
your first backup.
to the backup software, the LANvault CD installs two programs
on your network server. The first is an automatic restore
for the factory hard drive image of the LANvault’s own
operating system; this provides protection against accidental
changes. The second is the LANvault management software. This
software runs directly in a Java-based browser and lets you
control all aspects of the LANvault directly. In fact, it
doesn’t matter whether you’re in the same office
with the LANvault or not. If you can see the device over Ethernet,
you can control it. Companies that use a VPN to communicate
with remote sites will find it simple to manage LANvault devices
from the central office using this software.
The LANvault management
software doesn’t handle backups. Instead, it offers four
major functional areas:
• Manage Server
• Manage Library
• My LANvault
• Product Manuals
Manage Server lets you
configure the device location and time zone, network settings,
Administrator and Backup accounts, and email settings for
the dedicated NT server inside the LANvault. You can also
use this choice to apply software and BIOS updates directly
from ATL to the device. In addition, Manage Server lets you
shut down and restart the LANvault. Finally, a remote control
choice in the software puts you into the browser-based pcANYWHERE
client, from which you can directly log on to the LANvault’s
server and work with it like any other NT system.
Manage Library opens
the ATL WebAdmin Java applet. This applet lets you control
the tape library directly. You can monitor the status of the
various parts of the library and view a detailed event log
from the library hardware. You can also access a variety of
self-tests from this applet.
My LANvault provides
you with access to a password-protected area of ATL’s
own servers. Here you can register a product, view product
errata and service bulletins, and download any software patches
that exist for your version of the product.
Finally, the product
manuals include Adobe Acrobat format manuals for the tape
drive itself, the LANvault software, and the backup software
installed with the unit.
Though ATL is targeting
the LANvault for branch offices, there may be some other potential
here for certified professionals who are independent consultants.
How many offices do you visit over the course of a month that
don’t have a good backup scheme in place? How many of
those would take your recommendation for a piece of hardware
and then outsource its operation to you? Imagine using your
Web browser to log on to half a dozen LANvaults every week,
then collecting tapes for offsite rotation once a month and
sending a bill for your services. The turnkey nature of the
LANvault solution makes this distinctly possible.
With all of the configuration
and technical support hassles normally associated with hardware
and software, it’s a great relief to find a product that’s
as simple to use and as well-designed as the LANvault. Once
you’ve got it installed and set up a rotation schedule
for taking the tapes off-site and swapping them with new ones,
you can forget about it. What more could you ask from an information
appliance? LANvault is a good idea well-executed, and deserves
serious consideration by anyone with large amounts of data
that need to be backed up in locations without IT staff.
Pricing for the LANvault
starts at $9,995 for the economy model with the DLT4000 drive,
and $11,995 for the performance model with the DLT7000 drive.
Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.