Like many growing companies, JetBlue Airways struggled with an ever-lengthening backup window. 1 TB per night had to be backed up and its old system struggled to cope. By adding disk-based backup, the airline cut its backup window by half and reduced the labor involved by IT personnel.

''We reduced our backup window from over four hours to less than two hours,'' said Oleg Ivanov, IT systems analyst at JetBlue. ''A shorter backup window is definitely a good thing as it means that your data is more secure.''

Founded in 1998, JetBlue is a low-fare airline that offers free LiveTV and DirectTV programming, and serves 11 states as well as Puerto Rico. It has a fleet of 55 new airbus 320 aircraft and relies on intelligent use of technology as a competitive advantage. According to Ivanov, it was one of the first airlines to introduce the concept of the paperless cockpit i.e. instead of the pilot carrying 50 pounds of paperwork for every flight, all that paper is dispensed with.

Its IT systems are standardized on HP, Cisco, EMC, Brocade and ADIC as the primary suppliers. In terms of software, Windows Server 2003, Exchange 2003 and Veritas NetBackup predominate. Both Oracle and SQL Server databases are utilized.

In terms of backup, JetBlue used to have the following set up: a collection of media, database and application servers operating on an Ethernet-based network; additional remote servers function on the WAN; all servers were backed up onto a SAN consisting of an EMC Symmetrix box and an ADIC Scalar 1000 using LTO tape; both direct and network backup were performed to a 12-drive 144 tape library; 5 tapes were shipped offsite each week as an additional safeguard.

The company set the goal to boost performance, add RAID-level fault tolerance and build its infrastructure for continued growth. This necessitated a reduction in the size of the tape library, with tape being retained primarily for off-site and DR purposes.

JetBlue evaluated an integrated backup system that presents an ATA disk system as a virtual tape library, but retains tape by connecting directly to a physical tape library.

''Using this architecture, we are able to write to tape offline and in the background,'' said Ivanov. ''Our NetBackup software is able to manage both the virtual and the real tape media.''

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