There are really two components to disaster recovery: the technology and the plan.
You need both to be successful, but they’re not independent pieces. For everything to work, the technology needs to empower the plan and the plan needs to make use of the technology.
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This symbiotic relationship is crucial to successful disaster recovery because let’s face it, even the best technology sometimes has a bad day and even the most robust plan can have a blind spot.
Nobody knows this better than Jay Goldberg, vice president of Cobaltix, an IT services company based in San Francisco. This relationship between the technology and the plan is something Cobaltix excels at:
We bring the tools in to assist us with our IT consulting. A lot of people call themselves “managed service organizations,” where they install all these “tools” and they never go onsite. They just get things up and running and then bill the client every month. We’ve picked up a lot clients from those businesses because people appreciate the relationship we have and the management oversight we offer.
Cobalitix knows that a major part of what they offer is their dedication to their clients. They take their mission to ensure the best IT solutions for their their clients seriously.
So when it came down to it, their combination of technology and planning (and planners) not only saved the day, it made recovery easier and more cost-effective in the future.
Goldberg had a regular client that had an outdated disaster recovery plan and together, they decided it was time for an upgrade:
We had multiple backups going, but it was just data. It wasn’t a complete bare metal image and in order to recover from that I had to download everything individually. I could never get back up in a day. It would probably take me a few days to download and I could probably get a disk shipped to me, but that would take a couple of days too. Recovery time using that wasn’t really my main goal, but if I needed to get a file back or a set of files, I could do it pretty quickly with the system we had.
Of course, recovery time has a way of making itself a main goal and when Goldberg heard about a quick recovery from a coworker using StorageCraft ShadowProtect, he knew it was time to reevaluate.
I decided to start using StorageCraft there. The client was really excited about the idea of doing a full-image backup of a server.
It wasn’t long before that change paid off, though not necessarily in the way Goldberg expected.
On a Friday night, Goldberg did some manual updates on the server, but he couldn’t get any response.
At first, he didn’t think it was that big of a problem. Things freeze up occasionally and you just need to reboot. Unfortunately, such was not the case this time:
The problem was that after four or five minutes, I couldn’t even VPN into the network. At that point I knew it was a huge problem because this server had nothing to do with VPN. I was getting a strange message about my credentials not being authorized when I logged in.
This was a problem. He came back the next morning and quickly settled into “major troubleshooting mode.” There was some error with the Active Directory, but even after a few hours on the phone with the hardware manufacturer, Goldberg was unable to hone in on the problem.
He decided it was time to call on his new disaster recovering solution:
I realized I was going to have to do a full restore on the server. We had StorageCraft of course to do the bare metal restore and when I went to do the restore and mount the images, the D drive, which is not the main boot drive, wouldn’t mount. I got an error.
Frustrated, he called StorageCraft and was pleasantly surprised.
It was on the weekend after hours and it was great, I got someone in less than five minutes. I started talking to them and looking at the image and we came to the conclusion that the actual image was corrupted.
Even with the corrupted image, Goldberg was prepared. Since he’d only recently pitched StorageCraft to his client, he had a complete image of the server that he’d booted up on another machine. Using that, he performed a bare metal recovery and from there, things went smoothly.
I was done and out the door by 9 o’clock that night. And if I hadn’t used StorageCraft, I would have had to hand load everything from the operating system to the SQL server software, to the messaging system, to everything. It would have been about a three day job. If I had worked around the clock, it probably would have taken seventy hours to rebuild and load it by hand, but we did it in about twelve.
The client didn’t even know about the situation. They came in Monday morning and I updated them of course about what had happened over the weekend, but when they showed up Monday, the staff didn’t have a clue what had happened. And while the administration knew, they were surprised to sit down and find everything working.
And there’s definitely nothing wrong with that.
In the end, everything worked out, but for Goldberg, it was a reminder of the way good software needs to be paired with a good plan.
Even the best technologies have occasional errors and the best way to be prepared for that is to make a plan that takes advantage of all the technology has to offer.
For Goldberg, working with StorageCraft to create that plan has given him the confidence to deliver what he and Cobaltix promise to their clients.
I learned a lot of things out of that first experience about using the VirtualBoot feature of ShadowProtect and making sure you can mount your images. Now I mount my images every week and there are some best practices I follow now based on what I’ve learned and what I’ve discussed with your engineering staff.
We’ve also gone from full backups every week to continuous incremental backups, so snapshots are being taken every thirty minutes. And because we’re following the best practices now, we can catch a corruption within a week. We shouldn’t have corruption in our chain at all.
By taking that extra effort to understand how to get the most out of his solution, Goldberg has improved the disaster recovery experience not only for himself but for his clients.
What I really enjoy about StorageCraft is that I only have one thing to do: restore the bare metal backup. I don’t have to worry about licensing keys or hand loading software and maybe missing something.
When you’re in a crisis situation and you have multiple applications on a network and you have a checklist, you may miss something. The best thing about StorageCraft is that I know I won’t miss anything because it’s all contained on an image that I can open anytime I want to be sure it works.
This combination of StorageCraft and good planning makes for a solid solution that gives Cobaltix the advantage.
Since that experience, our Storage-Craft installations have gone up dramatically. It’s a really good product.
Image source: Rudolphoto