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Customer Success Story

Customer Success Story

TCNJ Switches to ExaGrid-Veeam Solution to Accelerate Performance and Improve Security

 

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is a highly selective institution that is consistently recognized as one of the top comprehensive colleges in the nation. Founded in 1855 as the New Jersey State Normal School, TCNJ maintains the eighth highest four-year graduation rate among all public colleges and universities. It is ranked by Money as one of the top 15 public colleges “most likely to pay off financially,” and U.S. News & World Report rates it the No. 1 public institution among regional universities in the northeast.

Key Benefits:

  • ExaGrid’s scalability resolves frustrations with previous backup solutions
  • ExaGrid’s RTL meets TCNJ’s cybersecurity insurance requirements
  • Backup window cut in half, so production performance no longer impacted by backups
  • ExaGrid-Veeam solution allows for instant recovery and fast restore performance
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"ExaGrid is faster than our previous Dell Data Domain solution. We see an obvious speed increase with the recoveries, and we see a speed increase in the backup window. Now, we’re getting everything done within our backup window and we’ve seen a huge improvement in the full backups on larger servers, too. What used to take a weekend to run a full backup of our file server, is reduced to eight or nine hours."

Chris Larthey, Associate Director for Enterprise Infrastructure

ExaGrid Chosen for Scale-out Architecture

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) offers more than 50 liberal arts and professional programs through seven schools to its approximately 7,000 full-time undergraduate students. Downtime is not part of the curriculum. Associate Director for Enterprise Infrastructure, Chris Larthey, has been with the school for more than 20 years, and overseeing the institution’s IT infrastructure, including its backup storage, is his core responsibility.

 

Throughout his tenure, Larthey has had experience with a variety of backup solutions, and when it was time to make a change, he did his homework. “We had been backing up using Veeam to a Dell Data Domain that was going end-of-life within a year, so we were looking for a replacement for the storage. I wanted to improve upon the ability to scale and have redundancy, which the Data Domain solution did not offer. When they go end-of-life, there’s nothing you can do to extend the operating system on those.”

 

Working with his IT services provider, Larthey met with several vendors to evaluate different backup solutions. After the provider recommended ExaGrid Tiered Backup Storage, he was quickly convinced. “After the initial sit-down with ExaGrid, I was really impressed with everything they were saying about its features, and it checked all the boxes for what I was looking for.”

 

The ExaGrid system also offered the scalability his team was searching for. “The scale-out architecture was really important,” he said. “It solved the issue that we had faced with the inline deduplication appliances we had used prior to ExaGrid: that either we couldn’t add storage to the system, or the underlying OS for the system became end-of-life, and we could no longer use it.”

 

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 Retention Time-Lock Meets Cybersecurity Requirements

Due to the proliferation of ransomware attacks, Larthey has noticed increased cybersecurity requirements from insurers. In particular, they are asking for proof of immutable storage. “Data Domain didn’t provide any kind of air-gapped immutability, and so we were looking for that to cover our insurance requirements. Our CISO, who handles cybersecurity insurance had been asking if the IT team, can implement immutable storage. Now, ExaGrid has given me the ability to say that we do.”

 

ExaGrid appliances have a network-facing disk-cache Landing Zone where the most recent backups are stored in an undeduplicated format for fast backup and restore performance. Data is deduplicated into a non-network-facing tier called the Repository Tier, for longer-term retention. ExaGrid’s unique architecture and features provide comprehensive security including Retention Time-Lock for Ransomware Recovery (RTL), and through the combination of a non-network-facing tier (tiered air gap), a delayed delete policy, and immutable data objects, backup data is protected from being deleted or encrypted. ExaGrid’s offline tier is ready for recovery in the event of an attack.

 

Larthey found the process for setting up RTL was straightforward, especially with the assistance of his team’s assigned ExaGrid support engineer, who has been working with his team since the initial proof-of-concept. “Working with our ExaGrid support engineer throughout the entire POC process, and still with us after the fact, is just invaluable. The work he did with us in our Veeam environment actually made things better. He is very knowledgeable, not only about ExaGrid, but with Veeam as well. The support has been fantastic,” he said. “Now that we use ExaGrid, I can worry less and don’t have to be concerned about our jobs not finishing on time and affecting production performance. It’s also comforting to know that the backups I have onsite are secure with the immutability.”

 

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. Customers never have to repeat themselves to various support staff, and issues get resolved quickly.

ExaGrid Cuts Backup Windows in Half, Enables Instant Recovery

As a public institution, TCNJ needs to provide uninterrupted service for its students, faculty, and administration. The ability to instantly recover from backup storage was lacking for TCNJ with their previous system. “Because of the way Data Domain is structured, we couldn’t really do that. Now, if we need to get something up and running fast, we have the ability to instantly restore data directly from our ExaGrid system.”

 

ExaGrid and Veeam can instantly recover a file or VMware virtual machine by running it directly from the ExaGrid appliance in the event that the file is lost, corrupted, or encrypted or the primary storage VM becomes unavailable. This instant recovery is possible because of ExaGrid’s Landing Zone – a high-speed disk cache on the ExaGrid appliance that retains the most recent backups in their complete form. Once the primary storage environment has been brought back to a working state, the VM backed up on the ExaGrid appliance can then be migrated to primary storage for continued operation.

 

He also has found that restoring data is faster using ExaGrid because data in the Landing Zone does not need to be rehydrated. “ExaGrid is faster than our previous Dell Data Domain solution. We see an obvious speed increase with the recoveries, and we see a speed increase in the backup window. Now, we’re getting everything done within our backup window and we’ve seen a huge improvement in the full backups on larger servers, too. What used to take a weekend to run a full backup of our file server, is reduced to eight or nine hours.”

 

ExaGrid writes backups directly to a disk-cache Landing Zone, avoiding inline processing and ensuring the highest possible backup performance, which results in the shortest backup window. Adaptive Deduplication performs deduplication and replication in parallel with backups for a strong recovery point (RPO).

ExaGrid and Veeam

Veeam’s backup solutions and ExaGrid’s Tiered Backup Storage combine for the industry’s fastest backups, fastest restores, a scale-out storage system as data grows, and a strong ransomware recovery story—all at the lowest cost.

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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