N.C. city adopts hybrid cloud disaster recovery for non-critical apps

With no money for DR of non-urgent apps, Asheville, North Carolina set up hybrid cloud disaster recovery with Amazon AWS and CloudVelox software.

The city of Asheville, North Carolina's IT services department team faced a problem when it wanted to provide disaster recovery for its asset management and point-of-sale transactions applications: money. There was none in the budget for DR of these apps.

Asheville had disaster recovery (DR) for urgent systems, such as ERP, but not for other important applications such as asset management and point of sales. Instead of building a second data center or renting a colocation site for these apps, Asheville turned to hybrid cloud disaster recovery using Amazon Web Services (AWS) to protect them.

Asheville's point-of-sale system supports ticket sales at the 7,500-seat U.S. Cellular Center arena. An outage would impact sales volume until the system could be restored. The water asset management application is used to track orders and maintenance and manage physical assets.

"These are applications that we would like to protect if we could, but we didn't have the kind of money to invest for disaster recovery," said Jonathan Feldman, CIO of the city of Asheville. "It was a question of, 'Do we have $50,000 to invest?' The answer was, 'No, we have [no funds] for that.'"

The city now uses AWS and CloudVelox (formerly Cloud Velocity) One Hybrid Cloud software, which provides automated cloud migration and DR services, to protect these systems. The CloudVelox's Hybrid Cloud software resides on-premises and synchronizes disk images from the city's point-of-sale transactions and asset management systems to Amazon's Elastic Block Storage (EBS) in the cloud. The software accelerates updates and does snapshots.

Feldman said CloudVelox gave the city the ability to deploy these important applications on AWS for disaster recovery without the high cost of traditional disaster recovery implementations. The city's data center and AWS' cloud production systems are continuously synchronized, which keeps applications updated in on-premises databases. The city only pays for usage during DR tests and outages.

Before moving to the cloud, Asheville's recovery time objective (RTO) was 12 hours. Its restoration point was the previous night's backups, which meant a recovery point objective (RPO) that could be as much as nine hours. Moving the applications to AWS reduced the RTO to two hours with an RPO of four hours.

"I can get back data from the last known point," Feldman said.

Feldman said he is so confident now about the cloud that he is looking into moving Asheville's financial system to the cloud this year.

"The plan is, we are going to work with our auditor to do it in a way that makes it comfortable for them," he said.

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