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Case Study

Backup and Recovery / Disaster Recovery with EMC Avamar

Oct 2013

State of California Department Projects 30% ROI and Meets Mandates with Effective, Reliable Backup and Recovery Solution

In addition to establishing a Disaster Recovery Site, this California government department needed a centralized storage/backup solution that addressed retention and security policies and met Data Center Services requirements for “ready” mode to move to the Tier III data center. EMC’s Avamar deduplication software provided efficient, reliable disk-based backups for geographically disparate multiple locations, greatly reducing storage and bandwidth needs, and which also met the State mandated guidelines.

CS0016

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CUSTOMER PROFILE

This State of California government department has offices in four locations spread across the state and is subject to highly regulated compliance and governance requirements.




Solution Overview

BUSINESS SITUATION: In addition to establishing a Disaster Recovery Site, the department needed a centralized storage/backup solution that addressed retention and security policies and met California’s Data Center Services’ requirements.
SOLUTION: EMC’s Avamar deduplication software provided efficient, reliable disk-based backups for geographically disparate multiple locations, greatly reducing storage and bandwidth needs, and which also met State mandated guidelines.
BENEFITS: On top of a strong Data Reliability Factor, the department realized substantial reductions in backup and recovery administrative staffing costs, a projected ROI of 30%, reduced backup storage needs from 8TB to 2TB, and easy management of retention and security policies compliance.
TOPICS COVERED:
  • EMC Avamar Backup and Recovery Solution
  • EMC VNX5300 Unified Storage
  • Deduplication
  • Centralized Storage
  • Disaster Recovery


Challenge

“We wanted to get away from tape plus have the ability to backup individual workstations.”
Department Information Technology Manager

Like many state agencies, this California government department was struggling with incomplete backups, expensive tapes and drives, and legacy systems. Backup windows were running four to five hours per site with an 80% completion rate. Backup tapes were rotated between locations for security and recovery purposes. Staff time to perform backups averaged 11-12 hours per week, per office.

A complete backup of all four locations was kept at Sacramento. Daily incremental data backups were retained in each office for two weeks, and full backup tapes were retained for three months before the tapes were recycled. Month-end full backup tapes were stored for one year, and year-end tapes for five years. However, with the recycle process, the contingency for unrecoverable data existed if data or files were deleted during a given week prior to the full week’s backup, and thereby not captured on month-end or year-end full backups.

Retention and security policies vary with different units. The legal department, in order to satisfy e-discovery, requires one-year retention and access to data. The financial teams require seven years. Finding the necessary documents when needed could take hours or even days, first locating the relevant tape, making sure it is usable, and then re-indexing the files.

In a disaster recovery process, if a file server failed in any one of the remote offices, network staff would immediately identify the failed hardware, order the necessary part(s), and then rebuild the server including hardware and software installation and configuration. Once the server was restored, all data would be recovered from the backup tapes. It was a time consuming process that usually took 24-48 hours of network staff time to complete.

Additionally, State mandated AB2408 required the hosting of all mission critical public-facing applications and server refreshes in a Tier III data center and the closing of all existing data centers and server rooms by June 2013. The department needed a centralized storage/backup solution that met the Department of Technology’s Data Center Services requirements in addition to the establishment of a Disaster Recovery Site. The solution needed to be in “ready” mode for movement of equipment to the Tier III data center.



Process

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) was a driving factor in the selection of EMC’s Avamar deduplication solution. Although the initial purchase was more expensive than upgrading the existing tape systems, cost savings and cost avoidance over a three-year period projected a Return on Investment (ROI) of more than 30%, and an initial payback period of 11 months.

“It was a good choice,” states the department IT Manager. “The ENS engineer made the suggestion, looked at what we had, and then showed us how in two years we could save the money.”

Engineers implemented the EMC Avamar Gen4 Backup and Recovery solution at the Sacramento headquarters on a VMware platform, utilizing EMC’s VNX 5300 storage hardware for centralized backup. A duplicate installation occurred at a San Francisco location for replication of backups and a disaster recovery site. Connectrix DS300B switches were installed at both locations. Laptop and desktop backups are connected either directly or through a VPN connection to Sacramento.

Individual agents are installed on each laptop or workstation. Users are empowered to do their own backup and recovery, and can be selective with their backup management.

Data backup and recovery are embedded in a software-based network architecture with no limit on the retention period of backed up data. Avamar provides easy management for setting retention policies for specific groups and, once they’re set, it’s automatic.

Data Reliability and Cost Avoidance

Data reliability and cost avoidance occurs through multiple issues:

Software and Control Issues:

  • Long backup windows = incomplete backups
  • Master server architecture = bottlenecks and single points of failure
  • Crashing Windows Media Servers = potential loss of data and exposure due to rebuild time

Storage Related Issues:

  • Tape media, drives, systems: mechanical or physical failure = unknown data integrity for disaster recovery
  • Offsite tape storage = security/data access risk due to lost tapes during transportation

Risk Management Issues:

  • Legal Discovery = time and expense in gathering information from tape media
  • Risk Mitigation/Compliance Avoidance = costs associated with non-compliance

Additionally, Latency is the productivity downtime a professional worker assumes by waiting for a restore to take place.

Avamar’s disk-based solution eliminates risks associated with tape storage and data recovery is reduced from hours to a few minutes. Deduplication features have reduced the 4-5 hour backup windows per site to a single one-hour backup for all locations, saving on bandwidth and reducing storage needs from 6-8 Terabytes down to 2TB. These features result in projected cost savings of 80% in the Data Reliability Factor, 90% in Latency, and, in general, a 40% reduction in staffing costs.

“Once it was implemented, it went pretty slick,” said the IT Manager. “For us, getting away from the daily administration of backup has freed our technical team to focus more on development and the business of the department.”




Benefits

Organizational resilience has been dramatically improved and business risks radically reduced as they relate to backup and recovery. Cost savings and cost avoidance have greatly reduced backup and recovery costs, and technical staff can now spend more time on business development work.

The Avamar deduplication disk-based software provides very visible benefits for the Department of Business Oversight including:

  • Eliminates the backup processes at the remote locations – all is done from the Sacramento office in a fraction of the previous time.
  • Does not backup duplicate files (deduplication) and compresses backup data, thereby reducing backup storage space (and time) more than 50%.
  • Fully redundant and secure. In the event of a disaster, all data is retained.
  • Data backup and recovery are embedded in a software-based network architecture, eliminating the need for physical tapes.
  • No limit on retention period of backed up data. Allows the department to set data retention based on legal unit’s policies.
  • Network administration for data backups and data recovery is highly manageable.
  • Users are empowered to do their own backup and recovery, and can be selective with their backup management. Meets governing board accreditation requirements.
  • Meets Data Center Services architectural requirements for data backup and puts the department in a “ready” state to move to the Tier III data center at any given time.

“This solution went way beyond our expectations,” states the IT Manager. “We are saving a lot of time and money.”



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