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Law firm Gray Plant Mooty (GPM) figured it was a good time to test backup and disaster recovery in the cloud when its EMC Avamar backup system reached its end of life. Last year, the company transitioned to nScaled/Acronis cloud data protection.
The law firm, which is over 100 years old, had used two disk-based EMC Avamar systems and Quantum Scalar tape systems for backup and archiving. The Minneapolis-based firm's business-critical applications included Microsoft Exchange, customer relationship management, and applications for billing and litigation support.
"Our data grew, so the backup to tape became complex and cumbersome," said Steve Nardini, the firm's IT support specialist. "A few years ago, we realized it would take a long time to restore data [if a disaster hit]. We needed to find a good disaster recovery solution, not just backup. We looked at colocations, but that came with a huge price tag. We got sticker shock."
Nardini said GPM needed a service that offered a better recovery point objective and recovery time objective for backup and disaster recovery. The firm looked at nScaled, Inc. before it was acquired by Acronis International GmbH in September last year, and decided to do a proof-of-concept test.
"They promised they could get it up and going a lot faster," Nardini said. "I was skeptical. It was like, 'Yeah, sure. Let's see.' We decided to do a pilot and then see where it would go."
For the cloud data protection system, nScaled installed snapshot software on an appliance connected to five VMware ESXi servers that managed 20 virtual servers and GPM tested tier-one applications.
A virtual private network connection was configured between the Minneapolis headquarters and Ashburn, Texas. Continuous data snapshots were stored on the appliance and then replicated to the cloud.
"A failover and failback to the cloud was done," Nardini said. "The users didn't know the difference, and the failover and failback test was proof that was going to work. So, a decision was made a year ago that we would implement nScaled for the entire infrastructure. Our tapes were old and the Avamar was at the end of the support contract.
"We thought, 'Why would we duplicate this data and do it with two or three systems when we have it with nScaled?' I destroyed all the tapes a year ago and shut down Avamar."
GPM's infrastructure has since grown to 110 virtual servers from the initial 20 in the proof-of-concept test.
Acronis acquired nScaled last September to supplement its backup capabilities with a disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS). Acronis added its backup technology to the nScaled DRaaS.
"To me, the transition was seamless," Nardini said of the new cloud data protection. "It was invisible to me from the customer side."
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