University links Actifio, NaviSite for cloud DR project

Bryant University relies on the Actifio-NaviSite partnership for cloud backup, and will turn that into cloud DR as well.

A year after Bryant University moved its on-premise backup onto the Actifio copy data virtualization platform, the university is taking steps to create a cloud-based disaster recovery plan. Bryant will use the Actifio system to replicate data to NaviSite's NaviCloud for the cloud-based DR.

The Smithfield, Rhode Island-based university, which has around 3,180 undergraduate students, will use a VMware ESX server as a gateway between Actifio and NaviSite for DR.

Rich Siedzik, Bryant University's director of computer and telecommunication services, said that setup will provide better performance than running applications directly from Actifio to the cloud.

"It's standard for what [NaviSite does] for any managed customer. In our case, we are asking for integration between Actifio and NaviCloud. Performance is the primary reason," Siedzik said.

"For a small incident, like hours or days, we can run applications from Actifio. But if we have to sustain operations for up to a week or more, we would have to burst into NaviCloud to use their storage infrastructure."

NaviCloud Vault, which is part of NaviSite's storage as a service (SaaS), is built on Actifio's copy data software that uses deduplication and asynchronous replication to reduce the amount of replicated data. Bryant has an on-premise data center with 160 TB of storage, 40 VMware hosts and 200 client virtual machines (VMs). There is an Actifio 100T-90 appliance in the data center and an Actifio 100T-30 device will be located in the NaviCloud site.

Bryant and NaviSite are in phase two of the design process and by July Siedzik expects to have the capacity and resources to bring up 17 of the most critical applications in the NaviSite cloud.

Siedzik said the university redirected investment dollars to purchase another Actifio system that will run in the NaviSite cloud, and that they have already experienced a 5.5% savings this year in the operational budget. That savings comes largely from cost reductions in legacy backup software and hardware, and no longer having to move tape off-site.

Bryant previously used an IBM tape library and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software for backup.

The gateway that NaviSite is designing will help Bryant use the cloud service provider's infrastructure, particularly to offload the need for added resources for peak performance demands. When Bryant needs extra resources, Siedzik can mount a new VM to the local Actifio system, copy the data to the Actifio at NaviSite and then run up an image in which to run the data.

"We hope to use their infrastructure for data center bursting," Siedzik said. "The only thing we can't get from the Actifio box located at NaviSite is performance. We can get availability but performance suffers. The box was not designed for that. If I was told we need to switch 4,000 users to Actifio at NaviSite, we would not get the performance to sustain 4,000 users. If we need high performance, then we need to burst into NaviSite and use their infrastructure."

As in most cloud use cases, network bandwidth costs are always a concern. Siedzik said the university is a member of the Ocean State Higher Education Economic Development and Administrative Network (OSHEAN), a nonprofit that provides Internet-based technology to institutions and communities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Bryant's Actifio system runs over OSHEAN's Beacon 2.0 fiber optic network to NaviSite. The network bandwidth runs out of OSHEAN's networking facilities and Bryant uses a 10 Gb Ethernet connection to OSHEAN.

"This is a tremendous advantage," Siedzik said. "[OSHEAN has] a 10 Gb Ethernet connection to NaviSite. We are the first ones to use the 10 Gb connection but it will be a shared resource between OSHEAN members. Right now, it's not metered so our network bandwidth is free but at some point that could change."

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