The Drive Path To 50,000 Datto RoundTrips

The Drive Path To 50,000 Datto RoundTrips

By Bill Chellis

Today may be April 1, but this one is no joke. Datto hit a significant milestone on March 30 when we shipped out the 50,000th RoundTrip (RT50K) drive at our Pennsylvania data center.

50,000 RoundTrip drives. This team does RoundTrip every day here, but it’s still shocking to say that number out loud. A lot of effort went into reaching that number. Let me give you an idea of how we did it.

First, it takes a team. Datto has a dozen people spread across three continents (and 14 time zones) to manage the logistics behind RoundTrip operations. This team handles the day-to-day operations that include preparing, testing, stocking, shipping, receiving, syncing, wiping, billing, and maintaining the global RoundTrip fleet.

Second, it takes hardware. Lots of it. We currently log approximately 2,500 individual RoundTrip devices in the global fleet inventory. That fleet has evolved over the years, but today consists of four standard form factor models. We have both USB & NAS devices, with capacities ranging from a single 2 TB hard drive all the way up to an 8 bay array with a formatted capacity of 35+TB. We built this fleet using mostly commercial off the shelf hardware to minimize supply issues and maximize reliability.

Third, it takes a comprehensive shipping strategy and flexible vendors. Depending on the location, Datto ships RoundTrip drives through FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the Australian Post. We also use freight shipments to stage our supplies. Raw hard drives, unit chassis, custom boxes and shipping foams arrive by the pallet. As Datto grows, this team is learning the logistics of operating with new international markets. It also helps to have vendors that are flexible and can work with you on a custom carton design, willingly take on a last minute supply order, and can tackle a document delay getting through customs. The devil is in the details.

Fourth, it takes a mission. It’s up to the Datto RoundTrip team to make cloud seeding as painless as possible for our clients. Seed drives may not be sexy, but they’re vital. Wherever our customers are, wherever their data is, we will send a RoundTrip drive to retrieve it. When that drive returns to the data center, we will sync every last bit of data to Datto Cloud servers. All according to SLA.

So how does this all come together? Looking back at March 2016, we shipped 1212 orders equaling 5.27 PB of raw drive capacity shipped. To get where they were going, each of those drive orders logged an average of 2,323 miles. That’s the RoundTrip (pun intended) distance between Chicago and Austin, Texas. All told, that adds up to over a whopping 2.8 Million miles. That’s the equivalent of going back and forth to the Moon over 10 times.

However, distance is only half the story. Let’s talk storage. All 50,000 RoundTrip orders represent a combined total of 153 PB of raw storage. Now assume that the average drive comes back 75% full, and that means RoundTrips have moved almost 115 PB of real data via the Parcel Protocol.

Processing all these incoming drives is an engineering challenge too. At our primary data center alone, we have nearly three dozen dedicated sync stations capable of handling over 120 simultaneous USB syncs. We have additional capacity to take in up to 24 concurrent NAS based syncs also.

In terms of bandwidth, we averaged a sustained 1.20 Gbps on RoundTrip ingest over the past six months. In the morning when new drives for the day are connected, that can spike all the way to 12 to 13 Gbps, which then comes down over the next few hours. The highest spike we recorded was over 20 Gbps. This is the best way to illustrate what one Gbps of throughput looks like. Our daily RoundTrip peaks are typically ~13x this and more ingest capacity is in the pipeline.

The pace of our RoundTrip growth is increasing as well. Between bringing on new international operations, and growing our domestic market share, the pace of our growth is accelerating. Datto was founded in the summer of 2007, and RoundTrip drives started soon after. Yet 60 percent of all RoundTrip drives ever have shipped out in the past 27 months alone.

I’d like to thank the the following teams for their individual and collective efforts: the DLT RoundTrip team, the Datto HQ RoundTrip team, the Canadian RoundTrip team, the UK RoundTrip team, and last but not least, the Australian RoundTrip team. I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the Datto Build, Infrastructure Engineering, Software Engineering and Tech Support teams for their work supporting the RoundTrip process.

But Datto didn’t get to RT50K on our own. We did it with you, our Datto Partners. Datto’s success is a direct reflection of your success. Every time a RoundTrip order is called out, it is actually going to your client to protect and seed their data. That means this milestone belongs to you too. It shows us again how much you value Datto, through our work, products and services to make them a part of the work you do everyday. Thank you.

As we look ahead toward our next milestone, I have one request. We want to hear from our partners on what you like or dislike about the Datto RoundTrip process. What is right about it? What is wrong? We need to know. So Datto partners, please sign in to the Community forums to take part in our Datto RoundTrip satisfaction survey. It will take just a few moments to complete, but the feedback will allow us to hone in on what it takes to provide an even better RoundTrip experience for you over the next 50,000 drives. RT100K anyone?

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