Disaster Recovery Solution Nets VAR A Half-Million-Dollar Deal
When a private water utility needed a business continuity solution, Wirespeed Networks recommended a total system overhaul - and landed a $500,000 deal.
Park Water (Downey, CA) is a water works utility, providing water service in two counties in southern California and one in Montana. Scott Petersen, president of compliance and business continuance at solutions provider Wirespeed Networks, Inc. (Irvine, CA), discovered the lead when Park was simply interested in clustering servers.
"When someone says they want to protect something, we always ask them why," says Petersen. "We ask a lot of questions to find out what the customer really wants to do. We often find out what they want is not what they think they want. Customers think if they cluster something, it might solve a certain need. But when you start talking to them, they rethink their plans. Eventually they will tell you what it is they really want to do. Then we can recommend the right solution for the need."
Disaster Recovery Still A Customer Concern
After September 11, 2001, Park executives, like many others, became concerned with problems that could arise within their facility. Their biggest concern was terrorist attacks. There were concerns about the quality of the water but also about the disruption of service. Executives and IT administrators feared they would not be able to support the locations in Apple Valley, CA and in Montana if their main location in Downey went down. "They needed an insurance policy," says Petersen. "They had many single points of failure they discovered on their own, and the management team knew they had to build in as much redundancy as possible. They needed a system that monitored the quality of the water and were concerned about what would happen if that system went offline."
After examining the customer's infrastructure, Wirespeed decided to rebuild the customer's entire infrastructure. Park was using point-to-point links between locations. Wirespeed installed a frame relay network (an interface for wide area networking) with the Internet as a VPN (virtual private network) backup in case the frame network ever went down. Using a frame network would lower the company's costs as well as increase throughput.
Redundancy was important, so Wirespeed built redundancy in from the ground up, including the servers, the LAN, the hubs, and the switches. When a state-of-the-art infrastructure was in place, business continuance was layered on top of it. "The existing infrastructure simply could not have handled what the company wanted to do," insists Petersen. "A new infrastructure was a must. We also did some consolidating and brought their video conferencing system off ISDN [integrated services digital network] and onto an IP [Internet Protocol]-based system. We rolled their phone service between sites onto IP as well, and put in packet-shaping [prioritizing classes of traffic over others and enforcing administrative policy for network usage] to make sure we had quality service for the replication of data."
Find One Vendor To Meet All The Needs
The new architecture also required new software products, and for those solutions Wirespeed turned to LEGATO Systems (Mountain View, CA). Park had been using another vendor's products, but Petersen felt LEGATO would provide better performance and robustness. LEGATO's NetWorker product was installed for disaster recovery purposes and would be used to perform backups and to clone tapes. Petersen states that NetWorker has a lot of resilience built into it, whereas other products have multiple points of failure and will not always recover. "If there is a bad file or a bad section on a tape, NetWorker will simply skip over it," he says. "It is truly an enterprise-class product, whereas other products are simply entry-level backup packages."
LEGATO's bare-metal recovery package (NetWorker Recovery Manager) was also installed, so if a server in a remote location fails, high-end IT staff does not have to be at the location or be sent to the location. Personnel can simply drop in a CD, and the system will rebuild itself from the last backup. On Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange, Petersen uses LEGATO's Co-StandbyServer AAdvanced product to cluster mission-critical servers. Wirespeed also implemented the RepliStor and AAM products from LEGATO. RepliStor allows the end user to move data off-site (to Montana from the other two locations), while AAM allows for failover and redirects users to where they need to be. No other software company allowed Wirespeed to leverage all of these technologies.
Once Park agreed to the concept, the only objection was the price. The total project cost around $500,000. To make the cost more palatable, Wirespeed broke up the project into multiple phases over many months. All of the work at the three locations was done in just under 18 months.