“I used to stay up at night worrying about our backups: Would we have something recoverable if there was an issue? Plus, aside from just day-to-day work and the monitoring — making sure everything was working — I was spending at least one full day every three weeks just coordinating the movement of that data from disk to tape. It was a huge burden,” says Becker, who tracked four sets of tapes, ensuring the backup and security of all county data.
Now, handling user requests is simple, Becker says. “If someone asks for a restore, I can tell them, ‘Give me just a minute and I’ll have it ready for you.’”
Lewis County Public Utility District Upgrades to All Flash
Power outages are bad enough for consumers, but imagine how utilities deal with service disruptions when they also must keep the lights on.
In 2009, data at the Lewis County Public Utility District, based in Morton, Wash., was relatively structured and easy to store. But now, each of the utility’s 32,000 customers has an electric meter that sends data back to the organization every five minutes. This constant data stream helps Lewis County allocate and schedule enough power to meet demands, which means downtime and data loss aren’t options.
“If we don’t meet our customers’ utility needs, we could get penalties from our administrator, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” says Jeff Baine, Lewis County Public Utility District’s IS manager.
The growth in data demands coincided with the utility’s 10-terabyte storage server facing its end of life, Baine says. At the time, restoring a single VM could take up to four hours, which was unacceptable. So, the utility replicated its servers in the data center to a separate location about 45 miles away from its primary location. Lewis County PUD purchased a Pure Storage 17TB all-flash server. And it replicates all utility data between two Pure Storage M50 flash arrays, one offsite and one in the office.
“It’s completely amazing,” Baine says. “We have total visibility into our storage. I can look into my system as easily as opening up the web page to it, and I can see my total data reduction too.”
Hutchison, Kan., Learns to Reuse and Recycle Assets for Storage
There are a few reasons why agencies may have skipped offsite replication in the past, cost and logistics chief among them. Installing and maintaining enough hardware to handle both primary and secondary data copies can be expensive.
Jeff Roberson, network administrator for the city of Hutchinson, Kan., acknowledges those difficulties. The city, which has about 45,000 residents, was constrained by not only costs but bandwidth. Using tape, the city performed offsite backups infrequently.
Hutchinson faces the threat of natural disasters like tornados and flooding, which could knock local systems offline. But the city modernized its IT infrastructure, moving to a virtualized environment, adding Veeam software and upgrading its connectivity. Still, there was no money set aside for dedicated storage. But then Roberson had an idea.
“The biggest aha! moment was that I realized I had all this old equipment lying around and a backup software that had replication built in,” Roberson says. He put the old equipment to work.
Today, the primary file and email servers are backed up nightly. The financial files are replicated every 15 minutes, and there’s no undue stress placed on the county’s three-person IT staff.
“You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to do offsite replication, but it’s something that everyone should think about,” Roberson says.