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Case study: ATPCO raises data protection to new heights with IBM Tivoli software.

Airline Tariff Publishing Company (ATPCO) is the world s leader in the collection and distribution of airline fare and fare-related data. The company collects fare-related data from more than 500 airlines and distributes it to global distribution systems, such as Amadeus/System One, Galileo International, Sabre, Worldspan and computer reservation systems. With more than 40 years experience, ATPCO continually delivers solutions to the airline industry at lower costs, with greater efficiency and better accuracy.

Challenge: Cost Containment

Dale Tucker, assistant manager of Enterprise Servers for the distributed system environment at ATPCO0 sums up his IT organization this way: "We are very budget focused. Our goal is to provide the best solutions for the travel industry at the lowest possible cost. We operate on the idea that every dollar we save, saves our customers money."

This persistent focus on cost containment led ATPCO last year to review its approach to data protection for its distributed environment and evaluate whether there was a more cost-effective and resilient process to help improve data integrity and support near continuous operations.

The company's distributed environment, which today includes more than 20 IBM eServer xSeries systems running Microsoft Windows 2000, supports core infrastructure activities: software development, marketing and customer relationship management, business operations and IT services. If data is unavailable, employee productivity can be negatively affected and the cost of doing business can increase.

Any new solution for ATPCO would need to cost-effectively support backup and recovery of a growing pool of data. Only a year ago, ATPCO had less than half the amount of data in its distributed environment than it does today. "We're expecting an explosion in growth over the next five years" predicts Tucker. "We need to scale up into the terabytes of distributed storage without having to increase staff."

The autonomic computing, self-managing capabilities built into IBM solutions were developed to help organizations "do more with less." IBM solutions, such as Tivoli Storage Management software, that incorporate these capabilities can dynamically adapt to their environment and automatically configure, heal, optimize and protect themselves. This helps companies minimize vulnerabilities, improve data integrity and realize last time-to-value, all with less staff involvement.

Marc Schulwolf, senior account manager for Mainline Information Systems, an IBM Business Partner, explains: "The amount of information companies must store today is growing exponentially. Companies need tools, like those from IBM, to reduce the time and cost of protecting that data and to accomplish more with fewer resources."

Solution: Autonomic, Self-Managing Data Protection

ATPCO turned to Mainline for planning and optimization services as it implemented IBM Tivoli Storage Manager. Mainline is a provider of storage availability, business continuity, and disaster recovery solutions and services. It offers the full range of IBM storage hardware and Tivoli Storage Management software along with flexible customized services delivered by Mainline storage experts.

"We didn't want to reinvent the wheel. We wanted to learn best practices from an industry expert that had implemented Tivoli Storage Manager in other environments," says Tucker. "With Mainline, we were able to deploy Tivoli Storage Manager and optimize it for our environment in less than four weeks."

He adds, "I'm very satisfied. The solution became operational very quickly and any issues were addressed either by Mainline or IBM promptly." Tucker highlights that Tivoli Storage Manager is trouble-free and the Web-based interface is easy to use.

First, the self-managing features of Tivoli Storage Manager help keep storage management costs in check. Self-optimizing capabilities automatically optimize network bandwidth, tape usage and management overhead. Self-protecting features automate backup and archival of enterprise data, reducing the amount of administrator involvement required.

"The incorporation of autonomic self-managing capabilities was a critical factor in our selection of Tivoli Storage Manager," explains Tucker. "With these capabilities, I can spend less time worrying and need fewer administrators to manage the system."

Second, using Tivoli Storage Manager administrators can backup data to disk on the Tivoli Storage Manager server then migrate that data to an IBM TotalStorage LTO Ultrium Tape Library 3583. The result: multiple clients can be backed up simultaneously, saving administrators time and reducing the number of tape drives needed.

Third, the policy-based administration provided by Tivoli Storage Manager helps ATPCO efficiently archive data and manage data retention against corporate policy. Some data must be archived for seven years, some for only several months. Using Tivoli Storage Manager, IT administrators assign company data into one of three data retention categories. The software does the rest.

"It's very difficult to manage several different levels of retention policies," Tucker points out. "The policy-based administration within Tivoli Storage Manager handles all that very effectively."

A disaster recovery solution is also essential. Two disaster recovery tests each year help confirm that, if needed, ATPCO IT staff can restore business operations from a remote location. Based on company guidelines, IT staff must recover critical applications within 24 hours and other data within 48 hours. The Disaster Recovery module of Tivoli Storage Manager helps ATPCO meet these guidelines and recover its distributed systems, regardless of the offsite hardware. In fact, in a recent disaster recovery test, Tivoli Storage Manager allowed staff to restore critical business data in less than six hours.

Finally, the multi-platform support and scalability of Tivoli Storage Manager offers ATPCO protection for its investment as its infrastructure grows. Linux, IBM-AIX, Sun, Solaris and HP-UX are all possible platforms that the company may need to support one day. Likewise, integrating Web services and Java into its applications is a huge focus, as ATPCO evaluates deploying new Web-based revenue applications in its distributed environment.

Results: Cost-Effective Business Continuity

With cost containment the top priority, ATPCO has looked to Tivoli Storage Manager to help improve data availability and reduce the time and money required to backup and recover data. Already, the company is seeing positive results.

IT staff now manage backup and recovery procedures in less than one hour each day. The software handles basic storage management tasks, such as tape reclamation, data archiving and expiration, and point-in-time restores so efficiently that operation staff no longer need to manage tapes or even know where the data is. The process is self-managing.

"We can set up policies and then walk away and let the software do the work for us," says Tucker. "Our data can grow several terabytes without our having to add staff."

Mainline helped ATPCO develop customized scripts so that Tivoli Storage Manager would automatically e-mail LAN administrators status reports each morning that review the previous day's administrative tasks and backup operations.

Says Don Nash, systems engineer for ATPCO, "What used to take us an hour, now takes us five minutes, thanks to the automated reports that we receive from Tivoli Storage Manager."

The speed of data restores also plays an important role in the organization's costs. "The longer data is unavailable, the more it will cost the company and the lower our service- level indicators will be," explains Tucker. "Tivoli Storage Manager is a very cost effective solution to efficiently handle offsite storage and disaster recovery and quickly restore data."

Future: Around-the-Clock Data Protection

ATPCO has also purchased IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Databases as part of its data protection solution. In conjunction with Tivoli Storage Manager, this module allows database servers to continue running their primary applications while they back up and restore data to and from offline storage. Now, ATPCO no longer has to take its Microsoft SQL Server offline to perform backups, thanks to the 24x7 access to data that Tivoli Storage Manager for Databases provides.

Additionally, the company is evaluating IBM Tivoli Storage Resource Manager, an intelligent console that helps companies identify, evaluate and control storage assets and predict storage management needs. The solution incorporates self-healing features to detect potential problems and to make adjustments automatically, based on the actions and policies that a company establishes.

"We've been a long standing IBM customer and try to use IBM solutions whenever we can," says Tucker. "One of our focuses going forward is how to manage the growth of storage and more efficiently manage the data that we already have. Tivoli Storage Resource Manager is a viable option in this area. With help from IBM moving to a self-managing and autonomic environment is the ultimate goal."

ATPCO maintains headquarters in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in London Singapore and Sao Paulo Brazil.
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Title Annotation:Special feature: IBM 10th anniversary
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2003
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