Magazine Article | March 17, 2014

Your Customers' Data: Restored In 30 Minutes

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By Jay McCall

An MSP becomes an NHL client’s biggest fan after restoring 9TB of mission-critical data in 30 minutes.

The St. Louis Blues National Hockey League team has a staff of 250 employees based all over the world, and the organization manages 9 TB of financial and scouting data at its headquarters, located in the 19,150-seat Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis, MO. Larry Womack joined the staff of the St. Louis Blues as the new IT manager at the tail end of a lockout that delayed the start of the 2012-13 NHL season by three months. His first task was to do a full discovery to familiarize himself with the organization’s network resources. Following his assessment, the organization’s outdated tape backup system was his number-one concern. “Our data is very critical, and in the heat of the season, it must be always accessible, so I wanted to find a new solution that we were sure was reliable and could protect our information,” he says.

MSP Beats Out Major BDR Competitors
After contacting St. Louis Blues’ infrastructure cabling provider, Womack was referred to IT solutions provider CDS Office Technologies, a company specializing in IT infrastructure and office IT solutions and services. When CDS met with the IT manager, it shared Womack’s same concerns. “Tape wears down over time, and studies show that 90 percent of tape restores fail due to problems ranging from corrupted media to tape library hardware failure,” says Gene Whitfield Jr., VP of sales, CDS Office Technologies. “Plus, even if the media and corresponding hardware worked perfectly, it would take close to 48 hours to restore the data from the tape library after building a new server, rebooting the tape drive, and copying the data. This time frame was well outside the client’s RTO [recovery time objective] parameters.”

CDS recommended an Axcient BDR solution, which included an on-site enterprise-grade appliance and Axcient’s proprietary backup software, which performs image-based system backups, provides incremental updates in intervals as short as every hour, and supports Hyper-V, VMware, and XenServer VM (virtual machine) environments. Additionally, the BDR appliance and software are sold as a monthly subscription, eliminating large capital expenses.

Subscribe to Business Solutions magazineThe St. Louis Blues’ IT manager compared CDS Office Technologies’ proposed solution to several others. “After comparing our BDR solution with the competitive solutions, we edged the others out with a more competitive price and a faster restore time,” says Whitfield Jr. “We were able to demonstrate the faster recovery time and earn the client’s trust by conducting a live Web demo at Axcient’s lab where a technician performed a data restore identical in size to the client’s environment.”

The BDR installation took place in February 2013, requiring a 30-minute setup time in the NHL organization’s server room. The initial backup was completed less than 24 hours later, followed by incremental backups every hour afterwards. “The IT manager was skeptical initially because of how quickly we were able to set up the product and the short amount of time required for us to be on-premise,” recalls Whitfield Jr.

Mission-Critical Data Restored In Record Time
At this point in February 2013, the Blues were playing up to four times per week to make up games in a season that was condensed due to the lockout. “It was a very intense time for the organization, both on the ice and in the back office,” recalls Womack. One Saturday, two weeks following the BDR implementation, one of Womack’s coworkers was unable to retrieve the data she needed on the main file server and notified Womack immediately. “I quickly discovered that our server was dead, and I panicked because this server hosted archived photos, historical information about the organization, financial data, and spreadsheets — much of which was not replaceable,” he says.

Fortunately, Womack’s panic was short-lived. With the new BDR in place, he was able to log in to his backup image, press the restore button, and in about 30 minutes, a virtualized image of the original server was available via the Axcient appliance.

“The BDR appliance operated transparently as the Blues’ primary server with no performance lag, which allowed the IT manager to take his time finding a replacement server.”

Gene Whitfield Jr., VP of sales, CDS Office Technologies

In addition to the fast recovery, the NHL organization discovered a second benefit. “The BDR appliance operated transparently as the Blues’ primary server with no performance lag, which allowed the IT manager to take his time finding a replacement server,” says Whitfield Jr.

The Blues’ IT manager confided in Whitfield Jr. after the fact that the BDR solution not only saved his company from a huge financial loss, it saved his job. Less than a year after the BDR project, the St. Louis Blues National Hockey League team and CDS Office Technologies are once again in discussions — only this time the topic is upgrading 250 Microsoft Exchange licenses from 2003 to 2010. “After proving our value and expertise with the BDR recommendation and implementation, they have a lot more confidence trusting us with their other IT needs, too,” quips Whitfield Jr.

www.axcient.com
www.cdsot.com

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