Best Buy Boasts Rapid Backup Time

Computer Network Technology backs up data during off-peak periods, cutting time by 75%

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

October 5, 2001

2 Min Read

As Best Buy Co. grew into an $18 billion company with more than 1,700 stores that sell electronics, computers, and appliances, its data grew as well, more than doubling each year for the past three years. It got to the point where it took the Minneapolis retailer nearly 24 hours to back up its inventory, sales, customer service, and other data.

"It was a choke point for us," says Rich Christensen, VP for enterprise technology services. The time involved also posed problems for expansion efforts. Best Buy plans to move into new headquarters in the next year. So the company turned to Computer Network Technology Corp., a storage networking vendor with experience building and operating data centers, to build a storage-area network that could speed data backups, provide room for expansion, improve customer service, and work with new disaster-recovery plans under development.

Backup now takes six hours, Best Buy VP Christensen says.

Best Buy's daily backup can involve as much as 20 terabytes of information, which clogged the company's LAN. Computer Network's storage network includes nearly 50 SilkWorm switches from Brocade Communications Inc., more than 55 tape drives from Storage Technology Corp., and two UltraNet Storage Directors from Computer Network, at a total cost of around $1 million. The SAN shifts data backup from the LAN to the storage network during off-peak periods, cutting Best Buy's backup time by 75%, to about six hours. Also, the UltraNet Storage Directors let store personnel access the business disk library and data center with one click.

Christensen gives Computer Network credit for working well with competing vendors. "We had bugs we were working out with multiple vendors," he says. Computer Network "took it upon themselves to fix it themselves."

Best Buy plans to ask Computer Network to set up a SAN to handle disaster recovery and worldwide information access. It's "the integrator with multiple partnerships to get the job done," says Dave Kaecher, Best Buy's director of technology design and build.

Illuminata analyst John Webster says vendor neutrality and SAN expertise are two reasons that Best Buy picked Computer Network. "Best Buy was fearful of getting locked into a single vendor system," he says. "Computer Network knows what they're doing with SANs as well as with wide area networks. That's not easy for any company."

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