Maritime Paper Products keeps data safe without productivity interruption
- 693% ROI in two months
- 95% savings in storage space
- Minutes to recover lost file versus 24 hours with Symantec Backup Exec
On a daily basis, most people don’t spend much time thinking about boxes – especially corrugated boxes used for shipping. One doesn’t contemplate the beer boxes, vegetable boxes and seafood boxes among others that hold the goods being shipped around the world from ports every hour of every day. We rarely think about the process of manufacturing the boxes, preparing the boxes and meeting box standards of customers from all around the world. That is, unless you’re one of the hundreds of employees of Maritime Paper Products Ltd. (MPP), located in Nova Scotia, Canada, who think about boxes every single day.
“We serve the local region, overseas, the Caribbean and the U.S. markets,” says Rob MacCara, system administrator at MPP. “We have four locations all centrally managed from our main plant in Nova Scotia. We’ve a long-term, very loyal work force, with more than 140 past and present employees that have been with us for more than 25 years. MPP is a great place to work!”
MPP’s success throughout the years has been dependent not only on its committed staff, but also on the forward-thinking automation and technology that supports the team’s work. With modern corrugating and converting machines creating over 20,000 boxes an hour, networked locations throughout the Atlantic Provinces, critical applications running on Microsoft SQL Server and a virtual environment for disaster recovery (DR), MPP depends on both its people and its superior technology to get its work done.
Which is why MacCara switched from Symantec Backup Exec™ to Dell AppAssure.
Dialing down the “frustration meter” with Dell AppAssure
“Prior to Dell AppAssure, our backup procedure involved Backup Exec, rotating tapes and full backups to removable disks,” explains MacCara. “When we had major failures, it meant building everything from scratch, updating the OS and installing software and then crossing our fingers as we restored from disk and tape.” Sometimes it would take MPP’s IT staff over 24 hours just to recover one file. If a SQL server failed, the entire plant would be shut down.
As the costs for an increasingly-unworkable process kept rising, so did the “frustration meter,” as MacCara calls it. “We knew we were not safely backed up, and in the event of a catastrophe, we would be in trouble,” he explains. “This had been growing over the years so that by the time we went with virtualization, ur existing backup software wasn’t up to the task. We’d either have to pay for an expensive upgrade, or have greatly reduced backup capability. It all came to a head that we couldn’t ignore any more. That’s when we found Dell AppAssure, and it’s been like night and day.” MPP’s before and after experience has been dramatic in terms of both return on investment (ROI) and advanced backup and recovery features.
95% savings in storage space Right off the bat, MacCara knew MPP was in a different world with AppAssure. The company has seen over 300 gigabytes of data reduced to just 15 gigabytes – a 95 percent storage space savings. “Of course, it’s difficult to compare storage savings from our old method to Dell AppAssure, as we were never able to back up entire servers – data only,” notes MacCara. “We now are backing up a total of 10 servers ranging from Microsoft SQL Server, BlackBerry Enterprise Server, terminal servers, domain controllers, file and application servers, and of course our Dell AppAssure servers, easily and quickly.”
“In the old days, if a lost file needed recovering, the tape would have to be brought back on-site the next day,” explains MacCara. “We would try to recover the file from the tape, and then copy it back to the user’s folder. At best, it was easily a 24-hour turnaround, as opposed to the mere minutes to recover with Dell AppAssure. This saves us staff time. Recently our primary domain controller’s RAID backplane failed, resulting in a major crash. In less than an hour – including troubleshooting the server – the domain controller was up and running as a virtual machine. The costs and staff time would have been much higher if we had to do this without Dell AppAssure. You’re talking all – nighters, panic, updating management and money.”
One of the key requirements that MPP had as they sought out an advanced backup and disaster recovery solution was the ability to back up to both virtual and physical servers, and then be able to restore either back to physical or to a VMware-based virtual machine. “Our disaster recovery project was already in the early planning stages,” explains MacCara, “and our solution would be playing an important role (once implemented) by replicating to the DR site. Dell AppAssure was the only one that was able to fit into our mixed environment and handle all our requirements.”
DR testing without affecting company productivity
At present, MPP has two virtual AppAssure servers – the main one is backing up two physical servers and eight virtual servers. A secondary backup server is in the company’s disaster recovery site, and it receives and stores the replicated server data. MPP looks to the sophisticated backup and disaster recovery features of AppAssure to meet their DR planning needs.
With push button failover virtual machines, if MPP’s database server goes down, MacCara can spin it back up, test and make sure there isn’t any damage. MacCara can use physical-to-virtual (P2V) and virtual-to-virtual (V2V) snapshot conversions, and export to virtual machines for migrations and testing. MPP’s SQL server includes billing, invoicing, inventory, diagrams/plans, planning, shipping modules and software for the corrugators. MacCara exports snaps, to keep the data safe.
With push button disaster recovery testing, MPP is able to do DR testing without affecting the company’s productivity. MPP’s servers (including all the data and emails) are being completely backed up with plenty of recovery points, as well as being replicated.
“We are in the final stages of implementing our DR infrastructure, which is 100 percent virtual,” says MacCara. “Our off-site DR plan means that if it happens in Dartmouth, we can still keep the other plants running.”
Peace of mind with Dell AppAssure is priceless
And up and running is the key in the box manufacturing world. Depending on the season, a server failure could mean a plant shutdown, work stoppages and remote plant closures. “If a disaster were to happen in the middle of summer when our beer and vegetable boxes are made around the clock,” says MacCara, “this would have a huge impact. We run 24×7 and three shifts during that time, so the peace of mind that Dell AppAssure gives us for the replicated servers is priceless.”
In addition, MacCara is seeing other savings across the board, including $28,000 in software and hardware costs, as well as a 693 percent ROI in two months.
MPP boxes couldn’t be in better hands
“We know that if we need to restore a single file, email or server, it can be done quickly and without any hassle. The fact that our data is safe and being continually backed up is the single biggest factor with Dell AppAssure,” explains MacCara. “I’m actively involved in Spiceworks and other technology forums, and I tell people that I couldn’t be happier with how Dell AppAssure has made my job simpler.”