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Google Cloud disaster recovery helped save data after Maria

In an area vulnerable to hurricanes, restaurant chain Grupo Colón Gerena turned to Scale Computing's HC3 Cloud Unity and Google Cloud DR to stay ahead of the storms.

A restaurant chain in Puerto Rico finds shelter from the storms on Google Cloud.

The combination of Google Cloud disaster recovery and on-premises Scale Computing hyper-converged infrastructure helped Grupo Colón Gerena (GCG) secure all of its data when the devastating 2017 Hurricane Maria hit.

GCG manages 113 restaurants across the island, including Wendy's, Applebee's and Olive Garden franchises. This amounts to about 6,500 employees, and the restaurant management company's headquarters has 170 employees of its own. In total, GCG has about 4 TB of employee, sales and finance data.

With the threat of hurricanes hanging over the island, GCG needed a way to ensure none of that data was lost. It eventually arrived at a disaster recovery plan that involved Google Cloud and Scale. With backup copies living on Google Cloud Platform and Scale Computing's HC3 Cloud Unity orchestrating failover, not only was GCG's data protected in the midst of disaster, but downtime was virtually eliminated.

When Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017 and knocked out electricity to almost all of GCG's restaurants, the company's data was safe and even still accessible -- although finding a device with power was difficult. The Google Cloud disaster recovery plan ensured the restaurants could be fully functioning again as soon as they fixed the physical damage.

Before deploying Google Cloud disaster recovery five years ago, GCG backed up everything from Scale Computing hyper-converged storage to an ExaGrid disk appliance. Before that, it used tape for backup.

In the same server box, you have everything. You have your disk, memory, networking -- it's all hyper-converged there.
Ramon Vazquez TousIT director, Grupo Colón Gerena

Ramon Vazquez Tous, IT director at GCG, said Scale Computing offered a simple, affordable backup option that enabled him to be rid of the tape library. "In the same server box, you have everything. You have your disk, memory, networking -- it's all hyper-converged there," he said.

While a welcome improvement over tape, the setup was still completely on site. Any event that took out GCG's primary servers would likely bring down the backup system as well. Vazquez Tous started shopping for off-site backup and discovered Scale Computing's HC3 Cloud Unity in conjunction with Google Cloud disaster recovery.

Deciding Google Cloud disaster recovery was the best form of off-site backup for GCG, and already a Scale Computing customer, Vazquez Tous purchased Cloud Unity.

"What we liked about the Cloud Unity solution is that it integrated 100% with our Scale," Vazquez Tous said. "If something happened to one of the servers and we had to run one or two virtual servers in the cloud and the rest here, we could do that and no one would notice. It would work seamlessly."

Vazquez Tous pointed out that not everyone on GCG's IT team and certainly not any end users dealt with backup and disaster recovery on a regular basis. Therefore, it was important to him that whether applications were hosted from the on-premises server or the Google Cloud, the user interface would appear the same on the front end.

"If we did have an issue with a server and we had to go somewhere else and log in through the gateway on to Cloud Unity, the interface is exactly the same. It's easier to train for that," he said. "Having a familiar UI and having a familiar way of doing things was very good for us."

This setup has been running for a year and a half now, according to Vazquez Tous, whose only complaint is electricity issues continue to crop up around Puerto Rico. While this isn't anything Scale or Google can fix, Vazquez Tous is at least assured his data is safe, even if it's hard to access at times.

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