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Customer Success Story

Customer Success Story

U.S. District Court Virtualizes, Replaces Tape with ExaGrid

Customer Overview

The United States Courts are an independent, national judiciary providing fair and impartial justice within the jurisdiction conferred by the Constitution and Congress. As an equal branch of government, the Federal judiciary preserves and enhances its core values as the courts meet changing national and local needs. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama is located in Mobile, Alabama.

Key Benefits:

  • ExaGrid system provides seamless integration with Veeam
  • Restores are point-and-click, much faster than tape
  • Two-week rotation with tape was a ‘huge process’ and now the time required has been ‘reduced to nothing’
  • Two additional ExaGrid appliances are planned to support data growth due to the new ERP system
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Virtualization Initiative Led to Backup System Upgrade

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama virtualized its infrastructure and decided to make the move from tape to disk-based backup. “We had been backing up to tape and were dealing with the usual issues, including high failure rates, long backup times, and lots of staff time spent on management. When we virtualized our entire environment, we realized the time was right to improve our backup infrastructure. We consulted with several other courts and discovered that many of them were using ExaGrid, so we decided to take a closer look and installed it based on the strong recommendations we received,” said PJ Isbell, programmer analyst for the United States District Court Southern District of Alabama.

"We consulted with several other courts and discovered that many of them were using ExaGrid, so we decided to take a closer look and installed it based on the strong recommendations we received. "

PJ Isbell, Programmer Analyst

Will Deliver Instant VM Recovery

The court purchased a pair of ExaGrid appliances to handle primary backup and disaster recovery. The ExaGrid system currently works along with a legacy backup application, but the court will be moving to Veeam soon to provide faster restores in the event of a disaster.

“For us, one of the significant improvements we’ve seen with the ExaGrid is in restore times. It’s very easy to go to the ExaGrid, point and click and recover a file, and it’s so much easier than dealing with tape,” said Isbell. “The addition of Veeam will give us the ability to rapidly recover an entire VM, which is huge in a totally virtualized environment.”

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.

Less Time Spent on Daily Backup

Isbell said that since installing the ExaGrid system, he spends far less time on daily management, administration, and troubleshooting than he did with tape.

“We had a two-week rotation cycle for the tapes, and I’d have to go in and take all the tapes out, replace them, make sure the job ran correctly, and then sort and store the tapes. It was a huge process. When we virtualized and went to the ExaGrid system for backup, all that labor was suddenly reduced to nothing. Now, I get a nightly email to let me know the backups have run correctly and that’s it,” he said.

Deduplication Reduces Stored Data Over 13:1

Data deduplication reduces the amount of data stored by 13.88:1, according to Isbell. “The ExaGrid system’s built-in deduplication technology does a great job at maximizing disk space by reducing the amount of data we store. And because the deduplication happens after the data has hit ExaGrid’s landing zone, backups run as quickly as possible,” he said.

Veeam uses changed block tracking to perform a level of data deduplication. ExaGrid allows Veeam deduplication and Veeam dedupe-friendly compression to stay on. ExaGrid will increase Veeam’s deduplication by a factor of about 7:1 to a total combined deduplication ratio of 14:1, reducing the storage required and saving on storage costs up front and over time.

“We are implementing a new ERP system in the coming months and we’re hoping to acquire two additional ExaGrid systems in our next budget year to handle more data,” Byers said. “We really like the flexibility of the system and the fact that we can grow it as our backup demands increase. Also, it’s really ‘set it and forget it.’ We really don’t have to even think about our backups anymore.”

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

“The ExaGrid system is easy to monitor. I get a nightly email telling me that our backups are running, and it includes lots of pertinent data about the specific jobs, so even on the weekends when I’m not in the office, I can be confident that everything is running smoothly,” said Isbell.

“Also, we have had a superb experience with support. Our support engineer has always been responsive and helpful whenever I call in, and I know I can count on him to assist whenever the need arises.”

Scalable Architecture Ensures Flexible Upgrade Path

ExaGrid’s scalable architecture will enable the court to expand the system as its backup needs increase. ExaGrid’s appliance models can be mixed and matched into a single scale-out system allowing a full backup of up to 2.7PB with a combined ingest rate of 488TB/hr, in a single system. The appliances automatically join the scale-out system. Each appliance includes the appropriate amount of processor, memory, disk, and bandwidth for the data size. By adding compute with capacity, the backup window remains fixed in length as the data grows. Automatic load balancing across all repositories allows for full utilization of all appliances. Data is deduplicated into an offline repository, and additionally, data is globally deduplicated across all repositories.

This combination of capabilities in a turnkey appliance makes the ExaGrid system easy to install, manage, and scale. ExaGrid’s architecture provides lifetime value and investment protection that no other architecture can match.

“The ExaGrid system has enabled us to significantly reduce the amount of time we spend on backups and it makes us more confident in our ability to restore and recover data,” Isbell said. “It’s so nice to be free of tape and its many issues.”

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 2.7PB full backup in a single system.

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