The storage device that housed copies of the company’s critical production data was physically located in the Erie, Pa. data center right beneath the IBM i servers that run the business. If a storm, flood or other disaster had taken out the company’s main IT operations, the backups could have been damaged or destroyed as well. Eriez had also never put into place a procedure for protecting the tape cartridges that housed backup data.
“Physical backups were easily misplaced,“ recalls Dan Ester, Eriez’ director of information systems. “Then we’d have to make a new backup. It was not the best solution for disaster recovery.”
Eriez, which makes separation, metal detection and materials feeding equipment for processing and metalworking applications, was about to embark upon a major upgrade to make its headquarters data center the central IT solution for all of its global subsidiaries. Eriez’ IT staff realized that the status quo for backup was no longer sufficient, but the alternatives weren’t perfect, either.
Off-site backup solutions, in which tapes are physically transported to another facility, are expensive. VAULT400 was a relatively new technology with questions about speed and performance. Backups were already consuming more than two hours a night of processing time, crowding out batch operations. Going off-site or to the cloud could take an even greater toll.
Eriez’ production servers were at the end of their lease, so the company contacted nearby UCG Technologies Inc. in Cleveland about upgrading to a new IBM Power8 server. During the discussion, the question of backup arose. It so happens that’s a specialty area for UCG, which has been doing cloud backup and disaster recovery since 2006. UCG proposed a solution based upon incremental backup, in which only changed data is moved across the wire. Eriez could realize all the security of an off-site solution without the cost or performance penalty of copying its full production dataset every night.
Ester wasn’t sure at first. Transmitting data over the internet sounded inherently slower than backing up over a hard-wired connection on-premises. “I had some hesitation. I was concerned about performance,” he said.
For the first couple of days, it looked like those concerns might be valid. That’s because an incremental backup has to establish a “seed,” or a full copy of the production database. At 600 gigabytes, Eriez’ seed took a couple of days to create. After that, though, incremental cloud magic kicked in.
Once installed, UCG’s VAULT400 cloud backup is continuous and transparent, running in the background and staying out of the way of high-priority production work. Because only hanged data is copied, incremental backup windows fell from more than two hours to just 37 minutes.
The effect was transformative. Eriez used to block off midnight to 2:30 a.m. for backup. That forced batch jobs back in the queue, meaning that they were often running well into the morning of the next work day, slowing production work. “Because we were able to cut backup times down with the cloud, we now get batch processing done before people walk in the door,” Ester says. That translates into a faster pace of business.
The IT staff compared VAULT400 to a similar service on Microsoft Azure and found the costs were competitive. The difference was the quality of support they got with UCG. “Any time we’ve had issues, we send a support request via email and somebody has always gotten back within a two-to-four-hour window,” Ester says. “Within a day they have a solution or reply. It’s nice having a relationship with a vendor that provides that kind of service.”
As it begins a major upgrade and consolidation of its enterprise resource planning system, Eriez has the confidence that migration hiccups won’t threaten its production data. Affiliates from around the globe will be able to connect and manage their businesses using a single source of data, which means taking down servers for hours at a time won’t be an option anymore. But with incremental backup, that isn’t a problem.
“We’re extremely happy working with UCG,” Ester says. “They pay attention to us, and the product has been flawless since we implemented it.”
Learn more at Eriez.com