under_the_hood

Data is growing at an unprecedented rate, thanks to the boom in unstructured data, audio and video applications, and data generated from the Internet of Things. By the year 2020, IDC predicts about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. By then, the data we create and copy annually will reach 44 zettabytes (that’s 44 trillion gigabytes).

For IT managers, that poses a problem. The number of people with skills to manage these fast-growing stores of data isn’t keeping pace with demand, nor do IT departments necessarily have the budget to hire more staff or invest in critical infrastructure. There are also compliance and regulatory issues to contend with, such as storing data within Canada’s borders.

Barracuda_Backup-290
If IDC’s projections are correct, you’re going to need a few of these to get by for your storage needs.

Solution: Jolera’s Store-I.T.

What is it?
Store-I.T. is a hybrid backup solution that offers scalable and local online backup options based on Jolera’s Canadian cloud platform. The Managed Barracuda Store-I.T. service is designed to be a turnkey platform that’s easy to buy, configure, monitor and provision. The service-costing model is based on a three-year contract term.

The solution includes:
• a right-sized Barracuda appliance
• configuration of backup jobs and retention settings
• monitoring of device connectivity and uptime
• mirrored, secured offsite cloud storage
• a 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee for offsite connectivity replication
• reporting on backup jobs (successful versus failed)
• restore assistance, as well as full warranty support and service

How does it work?

The appliance (Barracuda 290 and 390) takes 1U on your rack, mountable with L brackets. This appliance creates backup copies of your data utilizing local speeds, then replicates this data to the cloud. That means, in the event of a disaster you can also access your backups from the cloud (in other words, disaster recover as a service). You can also get a second appliance to run offsite and set your backups to copy to the remote location. Local copies of your data are not compressed, but cloud and remote copies are. Ongoing backup management ensures backups are successful and ready to recover at a moment’s notice.

The appliance (Barracuda 290 and 390) takes 1U on your rack, mountable with L brackets. You can also get a second appliance to run offsite and set your backups to copy to the remote location. The solution gives you — as an option — a cloud copy of your backups. That means, in the event of a disaster you can also access your backups from the cloud (in other words, disaster recovery as a service). Local copies of your data are not compressed, but cloud and remote copies are. Ongoing backup management ensures backups are successful and ready to recover at a moment’s notice.

Our take

At IT World Canada, we’re using Store-I.T. from Jolera for backup and recovery, both on-premises, at a remote site and in the cloud. Appliance 1 is at our office and runs backups of our local machines. Appliance 2 is at our data centre, and runs backups of our servers. Appliance 1 does a remote backup nightly to Appliance 2, and vice versa. This ensures we have our own copy of our data on our own devices. And, finally, a copy of each set of data is in the cloud. Here’s our take, from CIO Jim Love, and Matt Panchalingam, director of IT and operations at IT World Canada.

What was it like to set up?
Plug in the device, a monitor and a keyboard, and then wait for all the lights on the screen to turn green. After that, you phone Jolera and they finish up configuration. It’s a simple setup on Windows, but we’ve had limited success on Macs — though the reality is you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’s had success using non-Apple solutions on Macs. The agent you install on the end-user systems is a very easy install (keep clicking ‘next’) but there’s no way to remotely deploy to end users, which would expedite the initial configuration.

What’s missing?
We have certain users who are not at the office a lot — Mat is one one of them. “My backups are not happening through Store-I.T., but that’s not Jolera’s fault,” he says. “If you have a remote staff you need to be aware of that. ” Mobile phones can’t be backed up either.

Why is it different?
It’s really not that different as a technical solution compared to all modern backup solutions. But the support, through Jolera, differentiates the solution, says Love.  Jolera support is stellar — you’d be hard pressed to complain about them.

What should you know before you buy?
The appliance does not do direct MySQL and MSSQL hot backups, but if you configure your database server to do a flat file backup, it can pick up the file to backup to the device. Same is true of hypervisors — the latest versions of VMware, HyperV and Xen claim to be able to do live backups of your VMs; however, this has not been tested by us.

Customer perspective

PACE Independent Living

Radka Poliakova is the office manager for PACE Independent Living, a non-profit community support service organization established in 1981 to provide support services to adults with disabilities. The organization has been using Store.IT-. since 2013.

Radka Poliakova is the office manager for PACE Independent Living,
Radka Poliakova is the office manager for PACE Independent Living,

Over the past three years, PACE Independent Living has merged with two other organizations, more than doubling its data. Combined with the fact the organization is doing more business electronically, Poliakova expects its data to grow exponentially in the coming years.

That data has also become critical to the organization, making backup and retrieval even more important. “Given the nature of what we do, [downtime] could have very serious impacts on our service provision,” said Poliakova. If their entire system was down, for example, they could hang on for about an hour or two; after that, it would have a serious impact on providing services to those who need it most.

As a result, the organization turned to managed services for its growing storage and backup requirements, and went through a formal RFP process. “PACE, being funded by two of the local health integration networks – the Toronto Central LHIN and the Central LHIN, they do have certain requirements for backup solutions, so there was the need to comply with those,” said Poliakova.

Jolera’s Store-I.T. won the bid; Poliakova said it was easy to set up and worked immediately. PACE does incremental backups on a daily basis as well as a full backup every week. While PACE hasn’t done a formal recovery, they tested the system by recovering accidental deletions.

VERDICT: “It performed as soon as it was implemented, which was good news for us,” said Poliakova. “The accidental deletions tested it — right away it proved its value. It did meet and it does meet our expectations and, more importantly, all of the government requirements that we do have to fulfill.”

The Waterloo Network Co.
Jeffrey Butt is president of The Waterloo Network Co., a reseller that provides IT solutions and expertise.The reseller has rolled out Store-I.T. to a number of its larger customers.

Waterloo Butt
The Waterloo Network Co.’s Jeffrey Butt says Store I.T. can help flatline otherwise unpredictable costs.expertise. The reseller has rolled out Store-I.T. to a number of its larger clients.

The Waterloo Network Co. has been performing online backups since its inception — long before the Internet was widely available. But its needs are changing. “In the last three years, we’re seeing logarithmic data growth,” said Butt. “In the next five years, it’s hard to imagine that trend going anywhere other than the current direction, meaning data growth is going to continue to expand.”

So why not just buy the Barracuda product outright? Store-I.T. is “a way of flat-lining the costs of an otherwise unpredictable cost,” said Butt. With this service offering, you’re basically renting the equipment you need right now and the equipment you may need in the future.

He views it as an operating expense as opposed to a capital expense. “Any time you look at a backup solution, you try to buy something that you won’t outgrow in the next 24 months,” said Butt. With Store-I.T., “ship me the appliance that fits my current need and if I outgrow it, I’ll send it back and you send me another me. I’m not wasting dollars on capacity I’m not using, I’m not in a jam where I’ve outgrown the capital expense I made 24 months ago.”

Were there any other considerations? “In the buying decision process, there are lots of options out there, but the number of options where data will stay in Canada are rather limited,” said Butt. “We know Jolera has a Canadian data centre presence and we know our data is not going to leave Canada.”

VERDICT: Butt likes the simplicity, scalability and cost predictability of Store-I.T., even though it’s not the cheapest option on the market. He also likes the fact he doesn’t need licences: “If I’ve got a dozen servers with 100GB or one server with a terabyte, it doesn’t matter.”

 

Conclusion

Why we like it:
“If my servers all died I could call up Jolera and they would spawn a VM and restore them,” says IT World Canada’s Matt Panchalingam. “The point is, it’s great to have a backup of your data, but you need to be able to rebuild. Also, it runs in the background; it’s silent; it doesn’t ask the user anything. It’s configured on first setup and just always runs.”

Many vendors can back up data; the trick is successfully recovering that data in case of failure. Backup management is key, which plays to Jolera’s strengths. With built-in DRaaS (disaster-recovery-as-a-service), the ability to scale up and down within the contract term for flexibility (including evergreen hardware refreshes) and the ability to turn storage into an operating expense versus a capital expense make the Jolera solution an ideal fit for businesses of all sizes.



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