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Press Release

LAGUNA HILLS, Calif., November 29, 1999.... Ultera Systems, the leading tape array controller and tape array system supplier, announced today that Ameren, one of the country’s largest public energy utility companies, has deployed Ultera’s ShadowMaster™ tape controller technology for their data protection and recovery needs.

Ameren – formerly Union Electric – serves more than 1 million customers in Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. To keep operations running on a 24/7 basis and to prevent catastrophic data loss, Ameren’s corporate policy requires duplicate copies of all backup tapes so that one copy can be kept off-site in case of a catastrophic data loss.

Ameren’s computer installation at the company’s St. Louis headquarters encompasses 1500 nodes with 120 heterogeneous file servers running NetWare*, Windows NT*, Sun Solaris* and HP-UX*. All departmental data, along with custom applications developed for time reporting, customer service systems and outage management, is backed up nightly to two Hewlett Packard LXe Pro* servers, with each server handling backups for 60 file servers. The installation generates a nightly incremental backup load of up to 100 GB, and 400 to 500 GB backups for the weekly full system backups. Each backup server connects to two Storage Technology 9714* tape libraries containing 100 tapes, and equipped with four or six DLT7000 tape drives using Legato NetWorker* software for backup automation.

Ameren’s IT staff sought to satisfy the corporate policy of duplicate backup tapes by using the tape cloning feature within NetWorker, which provides off-line tape-to-tape copy functions after the backup process is complete. While NetWorker’s tape cloning feature performed as expected in creating a set of off-site backup tapes, it also presented a challenge, according to Vance Bufalo, Senior Engineer in Networking Engineering at Ameren. "My servers are doing so much work every night and the off-site tape has to be ready for pickup by 11 a.m. I did not have time to do the backup at night and do the tape-to-tape copy in the morning before the vendor showed up to pick up the tapes," said Bufalo.

"The other problem I ran into is that the two tape systems support approximately 1,500 users in our main office complex and we do recovers on a daily basis. If the tape drives are tied up doing tape-to-tape copies in the morning, then those drives are not available for tape recovers. With the Ultera solution, I get true tape mirroring: real-time copy so that as the first tape is being written, the second tape is being created at the same time."

Ultera’s ShadowMaster mirrored tape architecture simultaneously writes data to a mirrored set of tape drives, automatically creating a duplicate set of tapes in the time it takes to do the original backup – in essence a RAID-1 environment that solved Ameren’s backup window issue. "A company such as Ameren cannot afford data loss and yet often cannot afford the time to adequately protect itself. The ShadowMaster controllers enable Ameren to create tapes for off-site storage without compromising its 24/7 operation," said Fred Bedard, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Ultera Systems.

"We defined our requirements and Ultera worked with us to design a system that met our specific needs. What Ultera gave us is real-time mirroring, off-site copies that are ready by 11:00 a.m., and we can do all of our data recovers from the on-site tape library for the past 30 days without any tape handling by the operators."

Ultera offered Ameren a RAIL (Redundant Array of Independent Libraries) approach to their tape storage needs. The RAIL solution – a concept pioneered by Ultera – mirrors a pair of StorageTek 9714 libraries, with one library dedicated to storing on-site tapes and the other used exclusively for tapes for off-site storage. Each pair of mirrored drives is driven by a dedicated ShadowMaster controller, and another ShadowMaster manages the robotic media changers in each library. Ameren’s RAIL solution is designed so that it is impossible to perform any backup operations without creating the required off-site set of tapes. "We never want to have a broken pair on a mirrored tape," said Bufalo.

Ameren recently implemented an Ultera-based library solution on a larger scale, deploying an identical mirrored-library configuration using Ultera controllers with a Hewlett Packard HP9000 K-Class* Enterprise Server running HP-UX with two STK 9710 libraries. Each library accommodates 512 tape slots and 10 DLT7000 drives. "We’re doing the same thing only on a much larger scale with UNIX* and the bigger libraries," said Bufalo. Another plan is to incorporate Ultera mirroring controllers with large-scale Storage Technology Powderhorn* libraries for Ameren’s continually expanding data requirements and not for the backups of the corporation's 5,000 nodes.

"We’ve used Ultera for our past tape requirements, our present and now we’re looking to Ultera for the future," Bufalo said.

About Ultera Systems
Ultera Systems, Inc. is the leading manufacturer of RAID Tape Array controllers and subsystems designed for high-speed backup, archive and high-speed data acquisition applications. All industry standard tape drives, tape libraries and storage management software are compatible with the Ultera Arrays. Its tape array product lines are marketed under the trade names "Striper," "Imager," "LibraryMaster" and "ShadowMaster," and sold through OEMs, VARs and Systems Integrators worldwide. Ultera is based in Laguna Hills, Calif.

For further information, call (949) 367-8800, email or visit Ultera's web site at

* A trademark or trade name of an entity other than Ultera Systems.

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