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Customer Success Story

Customer Success Story

Greenwich Central School District Hits Capacity with Dell EMC System and Replaces with ExaGrid

Customer Overview

The Greenwich Central School District enrolls 1,200 students in the towns of Greenwich and Easton, and portions of six other towns in Washington County, New York. The central campus contains an elementary school, middle school and a high school and employs 200 teachers and staff. The IT staff is responsible for maintaining the data center servers and systems throughout the district.

Key Benefits:

  • Eliminates need for forklift upgrade
  • Dedupe ratios as high as 40:1
  • Enables longer retention
  • Reduced cost and time savings
  • Peace-of-mind every night that full backups are complete
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Data Growth Was Forcing a Forklift Upgrade for Existing Dell EMC System

The storage needs of the Greenwich Central School District were about to grow too large for their existing EMC backup-to-disk system to handle. The volume of data from various application servers and databases, student and staff home folders, and their existing IT management suite was placing demands on the data center’s existing backup system that were at or beyond its capacity.

According to Bill Hillebrandt, network analyst and director of information technology, “I knew that my backup data sets were growing, and by calculating the trend, I knew it was only a matter of months before I outgrew my EMC system.”

"For what I was going to pay for getting one Dell EMC device, I’ll be able to buy two of the ExaGrid systems. I’ll be able to accomplish my offsite storage as well as my local storage for the cost of what it would have been for a single Dell EMC appliance. "

Bill Hillebrandt, Network Analyst and Director of Information Technology

Reducing Retention Provided Only Temporary Relief

Since the school district does not mandate a specific data retention policy, the IT staff had some flexibility to reduce retention in order to free backup disk space before the Dell EMC system maxed out. This bought some time, but it was not a sustainable tactic in the long term. “I tried to maintain five days of backup on the disk-to-disk system before it went to tape because it’s faster to restore from disk,” Hillebrandt explained.

Frequent updates to the database at the start of a new school term significantly reduced the available backup disk space. According to Hillebrandt, “After the changes settled down a little bit, I could maybe get five to seven days of retention. I knew that I was going to have to start looking at another solution, one with larger capacity or with a little more intelligence. In the meantime, I had to reduce the retention period.”

Looking for a Scalable Solution at a Reasonable Cost

Several solutions were evaluated, since they were very similar in function to the existing backup system. “Initially, I was going to go with Dell EMC since they are an approved vendor. I was also considering keeping one unit in the building connected to fiber to do offsite storage for longer term backup. It was a very, very costly implementation to do that,” he said.

“I knew that there were software solutions for data deduplication, including Veritas Backup Exec, but I didn’t know a lot about the hardware solutions that were available,” said Hillebrandt. He called an ExaGrid reseller for guidance on other cost effective backup options that would be suitable for the school district and after doing some additional research bought an ExaGrid system.

Adaptive Deduplication Effectively Reduces Data and Enables Longer Retention

Deduplication performance was one of the determining factors in choosing ExaGrid rather
than a solution from Dell EMC.

ExaGrid’s turnkey disk-based backup system combines enterprise drives with zone-level data deduplication, delivering a disk-based solution that is far more cost effective than simply backing up to disk with deduplication or using backup software deduplication to disk. ExaGrid’s patented zone-level deduplication reduces the disk space needed by a range of 10:1 to 50:1, depending on the data types and retention periods, by storing only the unique objects across backups instead of redundant data. Adaptive Deduplication performs deduplication and replication in parallel with backups. As data is being deduplicated to the repository, it is also replicated to a second ExaGrid site or the public cloud for disaster recovery (DR).

Hillebrandt noted deduplication ratios as high as 30:1 to 40:1 depending on the system and type of data being backed up. “If you’re not getting good deduplication, you’re essentially just piling in tons of duplicated data.”

Easy Setup and Great Support

The ExaGrid system was designed to be easy to set up and operate. ExaGrid’s industry-leading level 2 senior support engineers are assigned to individual customers, ensuring they always work with the same engineer. Customer’s never have to repeat themselves to various support staff, and issues get resolved quickly.

According to Hillebrandt, “When I first got the unit, my ExaGrid support engineer helped walk me through some of the preliminary setup. The documentation provided by ExaGrid was extremely well laid out and very concise. I didn’t have to plow through a massive manual to find what was really relevant.” Hillebrandt was able to quickly get the ExaGrid system set up and running on his own. He added, “I was able to handle some of the finer points of the Backup Exec software, even the fine tuning, by myself. I like that the ExaGrid solution is entirely focused on backups.”

No Forklift Upgrade Required to Accommodate Data Growth

As Greenwich Central School District’s backup needs continue to grow, the ExaGrid system can easily scale to accommodate data growth. ExaGrid’s software makes the system highly scalable – appliances of any size or age can be mixed and matched in a single system. A single scale-out system can take in up to a 2.7PB full backup plus retention at an ingest rate of up to 488TB per hour.

ExaGrid appliances contain not just disk but also processing power, memory, and bandwidth. When the system needs to expand, additional appliances are simply added to the existing system. The system scales linearly, maintaining a fixed-length backup window as data grows so customers only pay for what they need, when they need it. Data is deduplicated into a non-network-facing Repository Tier with automatic load balancing and global deduplication across all repositories.

ExaGrid Delivered Peace of Mind and Reduced the Cost of Backup

The ExaGrid system has made a significant shift of time spent managing backups into other more productive tasks. “The biggest impact is that I’m no longer concerned whether backups are getting done efficiently, or whether they’re getting done at all. I don’t have to worry every night whether I’m saving enough data if I have to recover anything.”

Hillebrandt was very pleased with the entire sales process and the level of support provided by ExaGrid. “It’s all very impressive. For what I was going to pay for getting one Dell EMC device, I’ll be able to buy two of the ExaGrid appliances. I’ll be able to accomplish my offsite storage as well as my local storage for the cost of what it would have been for a single Dell EMC appliance.” The problem of not having enough backup disk space available to accommodate data growth is solved. “Now I have about twenty-five days retention and I still have 37% retention space available.”

About ExaGrid

ExaGrid provides Tiered Backup Storage with a unique disk-cache Landing Zone that enables fastest backups and restores, a Repository Tier that offers the lowest cost for long-term retention and enables ransomware recovery, and scale-out architecture which includes full appliances with up to 6PB full backup in a single system.

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