The Sedona Group gains 199% ROI by switching to Dell AppAssure
- 20 minutes for full server restore versus 20 hours before AppAssure
- Almost $100,000 savings in operational costs, infrastructure costs and staff hours
- 199% ROI
For over 18 years, Dave Buzzell has watched what happens when a national, multi-million dollar company’s backup and disaster recovery solution doesn’t keep pace with the company itself. Buzzell is currently the chief information officer of The Sedona Group (Sedona), and while the company has upgraded its IT backup solution to the Dell AppAssure advanced disk imaging process, Buzzell remembers when it wasn’t always this way.
“When I first started at Sedona, we were pretty local and had only 10 computers, and were only billing about $10 million in revenue,” explains Buzzell. “We had an outside vendor who was our IT person and we had a huge backup problem once because not everything was getting backed up.” What that meant was that when Sedona went to restore a server, the old data got mixed together with the new, and the company didn’t know what was what. “Of 1,500 files that ran the program,” says Buzzell, “some were valid and some weren’t. I had to go in and manually piece things together bit by bit to get it fully functional. I had to reconstruct everything. This took about a full month.”
That was in 1994. Flash forward to just a few years ago: Sedona is now a national corporation, with hundreds of computers and billing $120 million in revenue. Still, Sedona is having backup issues.
Backup window as long as 12 hours
“At that point in our IT history, we used a tape library and Symantec Backup Exec, but things still weren’t good enough for us,” says Buzzell. “I’m pretty paranoid about keeping all our data because I know stuff will be requested going back years. We maintain at least three years of active records, and I keep continuous for one year, and then monthly and yearly backups going back 18 years. So our applications grew, and the backup window was taking longer and longer. Sometimes as long as 12 hours. This meant we had a greater potential for data loss. Not only that, but the tapes were becoming costly. This just wasn’t a good situation with Backup Exec.”
To make matters worse, the company moved to a centralized Web application, which meant that all the regional offices were dependent upon the headquarters for even more IT support. From workers’ comp, to unemployment processing and client billing and receiving, Buzzell’s team had to make sure the systems were functioning smoothly. And then there was payroll. Every week, Sedona has a small window for processing the payroll of up to 6,000 people. Payroll starts coming in on a Monday, and by Wednesday the data must be processed so that paychecks are ready for automatic direct deposit by Friday for every branch in the nation. Any downtime in terms of server issues meant that Buzzell had to sweat bullets to make sure the company met its daily obligations. “It was hugely frustrating and took so much time to load the tape catalog, pick the lost file and do the restore if something went missing,” says Buzzell.
Finally, Sedona migrated from DOS flat files and a DOS database to an all Microsoft SQL Server database environment with the ability to store front office data electronically. Buzzell was ready to move to a new data protection solution as well.
“I knew we couldn’t keep going like this,” he says. “I had very specific IT needs for Sedona that included continuous protection to remove the large backup window, the ability to restore data back to the last possible moment, being able to restore easily to bare metal and I definitely wanted to move away from tape dependency.”
Dramatic time and money savings with Dell AppAssure
To meet all his requirements and more, Buzzell chose continuous disk imaging from AppAssure.
“Our IT environment is constantly changing, and only Dell AppAssure has been able to keep up with it,” says Buzzell. “The speed and ease of use of Dell AppAssure are great features. The continuous backup and bare metal restore ability make everything go really smoothly. Dell AppAssure has completely eliminated our backup window. Also, the great compression and deduplication capabilities of Dell AppAssure have meant that we’ve been able to have a lot more data easily available. Right now we’ve estimated we can keep three years of continuous backups because of dedupe/compression. That’s amazing!”
Having seen Sedona’s IT environment in action at different times in the company’s history, Buzzell can attest to the dramatic time and money savings that his team is experiencing. “Last summer we had an incident where an administrator turned off a server and it just didn’t turn back on,” says Buzzell. “We went to Backup Exec and were told it would take anywhere from 20 hours to two full weeks, but we only had 50 gigabytes on it, and no one could tell us why. We ended up finding another way around our backup/restore solution, but it was a 20 hour process to get fully back up and running. Recently we decided to redo this scenario in a test environment with Dell AppAssure. This exact same issue took us less than 20 minutes to get back up.”
199% ROI with Dell AppAssure
AppAssure has saved Sedona not only countless hours in staff time, but has given the company a solid 199 percent return on its investment. “The biggest surprise cost-wise was seeing what tape was costing us,” says Buzzell. “I’m known for being frugal. We have saved almost $100,000 in operational and infrastructure costs, and also in staff hours. Now I’m not stressing the staff and can put them on other important projects, thanks to Dell AppAssure.”
Time. Money. Happy staff. Because of AppAssure, Sedona has more of all of them.
“Just a couple nights ago,” says Buzzell, “there was a hiccup in the SQL server and it wasn’t coming back on after a reboot. My admin said, ‘I don’t panic because I know what Dell AppAssure can do.’ It was all taken care of in less than 15 minutes. That was nice.”