Company prevents backups from wreaking havoc on app performance

* Apps acceleration at work at architect and design firm

John Hines last year noticed a strange thing about bandwidth - the more he had the more his applications would use.

The IT manager at Crafton, Tull & Associates, an architect and design firm with offices in Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma, had worked to centralize its backup processes for the data center and remote offices. Yet the backup process became a bandwidth hog.

"The more bandwidth we added, the more that backup software would use," says Hines. "The application had throttling capabilities too, but if I throttled it way down or only allotted it half the bandwidth, it didn't seem to have any effect."

Other applications were suffering when backups were running. The backups were timed events and each office would duplicate every 8 hours, but on many occasions the backups made working with other applications difficult.

"It would take more than 3 minutes for employees to log in to our SQL-based accounting application on Fridays and Mondays, when they needed to be doing their time sheets," he says. "We had to kill the back ups on Fridays and Mondays because the accounting app was getting stepped on."

With upset end users, Hines decided about six months ago to investigate acceleration tools. He decided upon buying a Packeteer PacketShaper 2500 appliance. Typically, PacketShaper devices are deployed at both ends of WAN links and use a variety of techniques to move data across the connections more efficiently to reduce congestion and improve application response times. Because the network at this firm is strictly VPN and uses a star topology, Hines says, "all our remote offices are only connected to us and all the traffic goes through us" so he was able to achieve acceleration and optimization goals with just one box.

With the appliance in place, Hines gave the backup software a low priority in terms of bandwidth allocation, defined the accounting application as a higher priority and managed to improve performance for about 200 end users on the company intranet.

"The accounting application went from response times of over 3 minutes down to less than 20 seconds," Hines says. "And now even the backups work better."

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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