U.S. Bank Solves Backup Sprawl with ETI‐NET’s BackBox and EMC’s Data Domain

Short & Sweet


  • U.S. Bank wanted to consolidate backup/restore procedures via use of virtual tape and a common storage infrastructure.
  • EMC’s Data Domain, the bank’s choice for virtual storage, did not support the bank’s HP NonStop servers.


  • U.S. Bank selected ETINET’s BackBox to interface the NonStop servers with the Data Domain solution.


  • The BackBox/Data Domain solution eliminated all need for magnetic tape.
  • A common storage environment is available to all U.S. Bank systems.
  • Availability has been continuous since implementation.
« ETI‐NET’s customer support is #1. When we call for assistance, we get access to the top developers. The response to a question or an issue is immediate. »
Tom MacVicar, Department Head of Tandem Technical Services, U.S. Bank


U.S. Bank is the fifth largest commercial bank in the United States. Operating in 25 states, it has assets in excess of $320 billion, employs over 63,000 staff in more than 3,000 branch offices, and manages over 5,000 ATMs . The bank offers in‐branch and online consumer and business banking, wealth management, trust services, and global payment services to almost 16 million customers. Historical Note: U.S. Bank helped to finance Charles Lindbergh’s celebrated transatlantic flight.

Three data centers located up to 1,200 miles apart support U.S. Bank’s operations. Its systems cover the range of current IT technologies and include IBM mainframes, Linux and Windows systems, and HP NonStop servers. Fifteen NonStop systems, deployed among all four data centers, support such mission‐critical applications as wire transfer services and the ATM network. The bank has relied on NonStop’s exceptional fault‐tolerance and reliability for almost three decades.

Say Goodbye to Magnetic Tape

As has been the case within many financial institutions, U.S. Bank recently completed a major overhaul of its magnetic‐tape backup procedures. Its goals were fourfold: 1) protect customer data from lost, stolen, or corrupted tapes; 2) reduce the amount of data storage required to hold backups; 3) speed up the backup/restore and archiving processes, and 4) standardize the backup/restore infrastructure used by the bank’s diverse systems.

EMC Corporation, already in place as U.S. Bank’s data‐backup solution, was selected to migrate the bank to virtual‐disk storage via EMC’s Data Domain. The product’s virtual‐tape storage systems emulate tape drives and store tape backup images on disk. They support all leading enterprise backup and archive applications for seamless integration into existing IT infrastructures. Data Domain deduplication technology reduces by a factor of at least 20:1 the amount of physical disk storage needed to retain and protect enterprise data. The result is lower costs, faster backup/restore times, and a smaller data‐center footprint. In addition, Data Domain provides the replication services required to maintain database copies off‐site for the purpose of disaster recovery.

Addressing the Issue of Backup Sprawl Highlights a NonStop Server Challenge

Selecting Data Domain solved many of U.S. Bank’s backup‐sprawl challenges:

  • Virtual tape replaced magnetic tape.
  • Deduplication dramatically reduced the amount of disk storage required to store virtual‐tape images.
  • The bank adopted a common backup infrastructure.

However, Data Domain’s selection created a potential obstacle to consolidation.
Data Domain supported the Linux, Windows, and mainframe systems operated by the bank; but it did not support the HP NonStop servers upon which the bank depended for its most missioncritical applications. To integrate the NonStop servers into the Data Domain environment, the bank turned to ETI‐NET’s BackBox virtual tape system.

BackBox Integrates NonStop Servers With a Wide Variety of Virtual Tape Systems

BackBox is a Windows‐based appliance that interfaces a wide variety of virtual tape systems to the standard NonStop backup and recovery utilities, e.g., Backup, Restore, BRCOM, TMF, and FUP. Virtual volumes are managed by unmodified Guardian media manager software such as DSM/TC or TMFCOM. The product provides extremely high backup rates and is configurable with 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps Ethernet connections. BackBox can be configured to be fully redundant to match the fault‐tolerant capabilities of the NonStop systems that it serves.

BackBox is not the only backup/restore solution available to the NonStop community. Thus, U.S. Bank’s NonStop team conducted numerous evaluations and benchmarks to determine the best solution for the bank’s consolidation goals. BackBox was selected for several reasons. First, BackBox supports Data Domain, thereby permitting NonStop’s seamless integration with the bank’s newly standardized backup/restore infrastructure. Second, BackBox is simple and straightforward. Its configuration files are stored on the NonStop servers in the remote event of a BackBox failure. Third, according to U.S. Bank’s Tom MacVicar, Department Head of Tandem Technical Services, “ETI‐NET’s BackBox solution beat the competition in price, performance, availability, and customer support.”

Seamless Installation Leads to Controlled Migration and Outage‐Free Operation

The installation of BackBox and Data Domain into U.S. Bank’s existing NonStop environment took just a week, and a controlled data migration from magnetic tapes to the new virtual tape system was accomplished over a period of three months. BackBox’s incorporation into the bank’s backup infrastructure completed the upgrade, and no retraining on backup procedures was required of the NonStop team. Only the underlying infrastructure changed, and that infrastructure now is standard throughout the bank.

Nowadays, U.S. Bank no longer has any need for magnetic tape. Even regulatory requirements to store five to seven years of some data are met by the bank’s virtual tape solution. Equally important, the BackBox/Data Domain solution has suffered no outages since its installation.

Seamless consolidation of NonStop servers into common backup infrastructures, minimum system disruption, and no retraining requirements for staff – that’s the beauty of combining ETI‐NET’s BackBox with EMC’s Data Domain.