Application Note

Princeton Plasma Physics Lab Automates Data Backup

The US Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL; Princeton, NJ) has recently switched from performing manual data backup in its Theory Division to automating the process with the P3000 Series Automated DLTtape Library. Created by ATL Products (Irvine, CA; 949-856-7935), the library will also be used for various CAD, Windows NT, and Macintosh computer applications.

PPPL Research Program
Data Automation Solution
P3000 Features

PPPL Research Program (Back to Top)
Part of the US Department of Energy, PPPL operates in collaboration with Princeton University as a national research center for developing plasma and fusion science. The primary goal of the PPPL Theory Division is to test theories, develop codes and models, and apply theoretical data to real-world scenarios. Ultimately, the lab is working to implement nuclear energy as a safe, clean, and economically viable energy source.

PPPL researchers frequently perform complex computations that take days to complete. To streamline this process, they needed a data-storage solution that provided both 24-hour access and tight data security. PPPL also required massive storage capacity and superior performance.

Prior to implementing the P3000 library, data backup for the division's 50 UNIX workstations and servers were performed manually, which significantly impacted the daily operation of the Theory Division and its system administrators. As a result, backup windows expanded and reduced PPPL's ability to develop and test new codes and theories.

"Our primary objective for a tape library was large capacity, given the storage intensive requirements associated with scientific data," says Tom Carroll, systems analyst at PPPL. "However, it was equally critical that our new library provide the highest level of data availability."

Since automating the data backup process with the P3000 library, the productivity of PPPL scientists and engineers has increased. Implementing the automated P3000 backup solution also had an immediate impact on the PPPL IS staff, who no longer have to hand-swap tapes and can now pursue more productive work.

Data Automation Solution (Back to Top)
The P3000 at PPPL joins an ATL 2640 library to support the lab's VMS cluster system. The P3000 is configured with three DTL7000 drives and 326 cartridge slots. It uses a Sun Ultra 10 backup host running Veritas NetBackup storage management software to perform daily incremental backups, weekly cumulative backups, and full monthly backups. The key application software used by the Theory Division is specific to physics and analytical modeling codes.

The P3000 is designed for easy installation, administration, and service, and is delivered completely assembled to reduce the need for high-level system administration. The local user interface is an icon-based touch-screen GUI, which allows the P3000 to be easily configured, operated, and serviced.

"Since our scientists and engineers require the utmost protection and access to their mission-critical projects, the P3000's RAID-like hot-swap and redundant components, coupled with a terrific blend of performance, capacity, reliability, and future scalability, made our decision very easy," Carroll says.

With simple point-and-click finger-touch operations, users can identify or query the status of drives, cartridges, bins, and the load port. As a result, the P3000 system at PPPL was used for automated backup within a few hours after it was installed.

P3000 Features (Back to Top)
Targeted at storage-intensive applications, the P3000 library supports up to 16 DLTtape drives and 326 cartridges for 288 gigabytes per hour of native performance and 11.4 terabytes of native storage capacity. It is the industry's first DLT library to feature a High Availability (HA) design similar to HA servers and RAID systems.

The P3000's HA design features single-connector hot-swap DLTtape drives, power supplies, and fans, as well as redundant power supplies, fans, and AC sources. The hot-swap components permit non-disruptive maintenance, while the redundant AC components allow online replacement and continual uptime if a single component fails.

Other key features of the P3000 include IntelliGrip, ATL's highly precise cartridge handling system. This inserts and removes DLTtape cartridges in a manner that reduces drive stress, increases overall library reliability, and minimizes surface contact. The P3000 is also equipped with Prism Library Architecture, which incorporates a PCI expansion bus to support the phased implementation of user-installable fiber channel adapters, network adapters, single-board computers, and tape-array controllers.

ATL Products, a Quantum Company, designs, manufactures, and services automated DLTtape library systems. Delivering library systems through OEMs, the company has installed thousands of library systems around the world.

For more information, call Scott Harlin at ATL Products at 949-856-7935, or call PPPL at 609-243-2750.