Brock White reduces data recovery time from 12 hours to 15 minutes
- Ability to restore a VM in 15 minutes vs. 12 hours previously
- Easy and reliable DR solution in place
- Disaster recovery solution at half the cost of what company had budgeted for backup alone
Mike Somers, the IT director of Brock White Company LLC (Brock White), knew that if one of the company’s servers running Microsoft Exchange Server went down or was compromised in any way, the company would be up the proverbial creek.
Headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, Brock White is a leading distributor of construction materials providing specialty products to concrete and masonry construction markets in the upper Midwest United States.
“None of our important data was replicated off-site, and that made me really concerned,” notes Somers. As the head of a three-person team that oversees all aspects of Brock White’s technology – data center, network communications systems and telecom contracts, administration, help desk, ERP, database operations, storage systems, application support, security and software licensing – Somers knew intimately that Brock White faced key vulnerabilities in its ability to effectively distribute to its concrete and masonry construction markets.
“The company had been using Symantec Backup Exec for a long time,” says Somers. “We used it for application backup, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, while using Quest vRanger to back up the VMs.” The Microsoft Exchange Server backups were taking longer and longer – up to 12 hours – pushing the team over the edge. Finally, the inevitable happened.
“vRanger left a ‘hanging snapshot’ and corrupted the Microsoft Exchange Server VM one day,” recalls Somers. “I personally had to be involved with the restore, trying to monkey around with Backup Exec. I spent an entire weekend restoring Exchange – it was awful.”
Finding a solid disaster recovery solution
This disaster sent Somers in search of a better product that would give him the confidence and capability he needed in his data protection. He wanted a product to provide quick restores, no backup window, an intuitive administrative console and the ability to replicate the mission-critical data in anticipation of any future disasters. The product also had to be cost effective.
“We looked at NetApp SnapManager for Microsoft Exchange Server as a possibility, but it was too expensive for us,” says Somers. Then the team heard about Dell AppAssure and has been completely satisfied ever since.
“The thought of our Exchange going down used to make us sweat,” says Somers. “Not anymore. We’ve had Exchange servers fail twice now and they were back up quickly and easily with AppAssure. We just roll back to the last good snap and in 15 minutes we can get the servers up and running. With AppAssure, restores are quick, efficient and easy. I just don’t have to worry about them anymore.”
“We’ve now restored a couple of Microsoft SQL Server databases with AppAssure, and it has worked outstandingly,” he says. “We run document management applications, Microsoft SharePoint, VMware vCenter, Citrix, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 data warehousing, a budgeting solution application and a lot of other mission-critical applications on Microsoft SQL Server. Our vCenter database got corrupted, but the restores were quick and easy. We know this works. We have extra confidence now.”
For many, the superior backup capabilities of AppAssure might have been the end of the story, but not for Brock White. The quick restores and ease of use of AppAssure were just the beginning for Somers and his team. AppAssure quickly became the core component of Brock White’s disaster recovery plan.
Replication is key to disaster recovery solution
“We’re a $170 million company that’s very data-centric,” notes Somers. “And yet we didn’t have any offsite capabilities prior to AppAssure. In effect, we didn’t really have a disaster recovery plan before we implemented AppAssure.”
While the Backup Exec debacle was the catalyst for Somers to search for a better solution, the ability of AppAssure to replicate data to an offsite repository quickly became Brock White’s forward-focused DR strategy.
“Right now we replicate from the primary data center to one of the larger sites that has an AppAssure server,” says Somers. “In fact, we have about 24 servers we’re replicating. Luckily we’ve not had to do a restore from one of the remote sites, but we’ve spun out the VM from the remote to a co-lo to test it out, and we’re ready to go. Our DR plan is, if the main center went down, we’d take the AppAssure server from the co-lo and restore it, and then be back up and running in no time.”
Somers’ DR plan with AppAssure taking the lead is coming in at half the cost of what Brock White had budgeted for backup alone. “What started as just our backup solution quickly became our main DR plan,” says Somers. “I tell other people, I know what it’s like to be in their shoes. AppAssure really does work, and I just don’t worry about backups and disaster recovery now.”