Go-to storage and disaster recovery products

IT pros find peace of mind through hybrid cloud storage and enterprise backup and disaster recovery technologies.

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LEAF Commercial Capital used to wrestle with tape backups for disaster recovery. Now the equipment leasing and finance company is using a software-based service from Evolve IP for disaster recovery.

Rusty Lorenzon, director of IT Infrastructure at Philadelphia-based LEAF, says Evolve IP’s disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) has allowed the company to reduce its recovery-time objectives from 48 hours or more to four hours or less. At the same time, LEAF has reduced its disaster recovery operational expenses.

“We adopted Evolve IP as an update to our traditional disaster recovery strategy, which had our team using tape backups and interfacing with various DR suppliers,” Lorenzon says. “Evolve IP DRaaS ZT is a flexible solution with an intuitive interface that is easy to configure and use. It’s built for the VMWare hypervisor and is completely SAN agnostic, which allows us to avoid SAN vendor lock-in.”

LEAF’s lean IT team can now conduct a full disaster recovery exercise without impacting its production environment and without leaving the office, Lorenzon says. “We’ve also been able to execute individual portions of our plan in ‘mini’ exercises as time permits. We’ve trimmed our IT recovery plan down to about a page and a half,” he says. “Now almost anyone can bring our environment up with a push of a button or even just a phone call.”

Lorenzon is one of 34 IT pros who wrote in to share their favorite products. Among the submissions, a number of submitters singled out technologies that help their companies tackle data storage and protection, file access, and disaster recovery.

Michael Viselli, IS project manager at Lewis Operating Corp., raved about Nasuni’s hybrid service, which combines local storage appliances and cloud storage. All of the company’s files reside in Nasuni’s cloud service, while on-premises appliances cache the most frequently used files. The combination gives employees LAN-speed access to company files without the need to deploy additional infrastructure, says Viselli, who works in the real estate development company’s Upland, Calif. location.

“This is a really big deal for us, because we only have one data center for our 30+ offices across California and Nevada. Some of these locations have poor Internet connections, so accessing and uploading files to the company server was very painful. Also, since the files are now stored in the cloud, we no longer have the single point of failure that we had before (if our only data center was to go offline).”

For mobile employees who work in the field at construction sites, “Nasuni’s mobile client allows them to work a lot faster than our previous implementations,” Viselli says. “We are also able to remove layers of complex and daunting security for these specific users to access their files.”

In addition to the file access benefits, the Nasuni service improves data protection – a feature that was tested when a user’s computer was infected with the CryptoLocker virus. “Once our employee realized something was odd with her computer and reported it, we scanned the network and saw how far it had spread: it infected her personal directory, as well as a shared volume,” Viselli says. “We were able to detach the affected volumes from public view, use Nasuni’s snapshots to restore our data back to the moment prior to infection, and get the office back up and running with ease.”

Ben Pearman also credits his enterprise backup technology of choice – Unitrends’ Recovery-823 appliance -- with helping his company to recover from a malware infection.

“Twice in the past week alone it has helped us to recover employee files from a crypto-virus infection, on top of restoring failed VMs and helping us to test VMware systems in an isolated environment by allowing us to spin up actual VMs into a test environment as though it were real – it makes a fantastic bridge device between the two networks,” says Pearman, who is coordinator of technology & network operations at USA Volleyball.

“We like it because it does a thankless job without any feedback from us – we set a schedule and it just does it,” Pearman says. “No bellyaching, no ‘this is broke, you should fix it’ notices, and it integrates seamlessly with both our physical infrastructure as well as our VMWare, both local and remote.”

Hercu Rabsatt, director of infrastructure and service management at Mansfield Oil Company, also has saved time and resources with his favorite product: Veeam Availability Suite v8, which combines backup, restoration and replication functions with monitoring, reporting and capacity planning features.

“I spend a lot less time managing backup, and we’ve saved more than 70% over our previous setup, both of which are great. But the biggest thing is that I finally have real enterprise data protection and can offer my internal customers an SLA. I couldn't do that before, because we had no idea how long it would take to recover any given data set,” Rabsatt says.

Now he’s confident about Mansfield’s data center availability.

“I don’t worry about data protection anymore. Veeam just works, and that’s not something I could have said before,” Rabsatt says. “My terrible, recurring nightmares about enduring some sort of disaster, taking days to recover everything, and costing our business millions of dollars? They’re gone. I can now back up and recover items in 15 minutes or less, and I can recover the entire data center in a few hours.”

CloudBerry Managed Backup made an impression on Taylor Cherry, director of consulting at PRG Technology Solutions. PRG is using CloudBerry Lab’s cloud backup service both to protect its own company resources and to offer as white-label service which it resells to customers.

“CloudBerry Managed Backup is a very powerful backup tool, with a great deal of flexibility that provides us with a wide range of backup features and options, like 256-bit AES encryption, real-time backup, bandwidth throttling and a lot of other really awesome features,” Cherry says. “In addition, through the management portal, we are able to manage all backup plans remotely, so we don’t have to bother users when troubleshooting and resolving backup issues.”

Link Up Technologies also relies on CloudBerry technology for its branded backup offerings.

“CloudBerry Lab’s Managed Backup solution provides a very reliable cloud backup product that required very little initial troubleshooting and allows us to offer the capability for a reasonable price,” says Manny Aguiar, president of Link Up Technologies. “It’s also easy to use via an online access portal, and we can manage all our clients in one easy console. Other key elements are the flexibility it offers by allowing us to choose where we want our customers’ data to be stored, and the ability to use multiple cloud storage destinations with different clients so we can avoid a single vendor lock-in.”

Both PRG and Link Up cited CloudBerry’s integration with cloud providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Google Drive, and Openstack.

“The ability to choose specific end-point storage providers based on performance, security, and pricing standpoints for each individual user is a huge bonus,” Aguiar says. “This is significant since no two clients are the same, and we can take into account the unique backup profile of each and every user.”

“We have the option to backup either to Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure, so that makes us and our clients very happy,” Cherry says.

Christian Kraus, IT manager at Infokom in Karlsruhe, Germany, cited PernixData’s FVP software for helping his company design and plan its storage environment. “We are now able to work with our environment but get a lot more performance with new cheap hardware," Kraus says. "The implementation guaranteed the functionality of the existing infrastructure with the disaster recovery concept and all other designs we have in the infrastructure.”

Another fan of PernixData -- Alex Au, head of IT at Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) -- says the vendor’s FVP software helped the association realize immediate savings of some $85,000 through better performance and avoided expenses.

“FVP significantly improved the IOPS and latency of our current storage system,” Au says. “After improving the performance of the current system, we were able to reconfigure it to RAID 50 from RAID 10, resulting in a storage capacity increase by 75% to 6.28TB from 3.62TB. In other words, we do not need to purchase additional storage, thereby saving even more.”

Nick Casagrande, too, has seen sizable performance gains thanks to PernixData FVP.

“FVP allowed us to gain storage performance without any disruption or configuration changes to our current environment. In addition, we’ve been able to continue utilizing our iSCSI SANs to prolong the investment,” says Casagrande, IT director at Southern Waste Systems of Davie, Fla.

Before the FVP implementation, users were experiencing up to 500ms of latency, depending upon the disk activity, and the company’s VDI project was stalled, he says. Post implementation, “our VMs are now running with sub-millisecond latencies without having to perform a large network and storage fabric upgrade. Our DBs are humming along nicely, and the users noticed an immediate improvement. Best of all it was a non-disruptive install.”

“FVP has done for storage what VMWare has done for virtualizing RAM and CPU. Storage was the last piece of the puzzle to solve,” Casagrande says. “[PernixData] has really thought outside the box by crushing the idea that faster storage equates to hardware.”

This story, "Go-to storage and disaster recovery products" was originally published by Network World.

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