Overland Helps CEO Group With Backup

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Vistage International, an organization representing 14,000 CEOs in 16 countries, needed backup help.

The San Diego-based professional organization’s existing backup and recovery infrastructure was straining from years of accumulated business content, and an expected surge of data resulting from a large-scale conversion to high-definition video was only going to make matters worse.

The 50-year-old organization turned to Overland Storage for its de-duplicationvirtual tape library (VTL) appliances. The organization’s goal was to install a disk backup solution that met its backup window and provided an extra layer of disaster recovery protection.

Holding about 1,000 member meetings a month that get recorded and saved, Vistage had stockpiled 56 terabytes worth of content, including PowerPoint presentations, white papers, best practices and recordings, said Carlo Saggese, vice president of application development at Vistage.

With not enough hours in the day, the organization could back up only a fraction of its content on an existing Qualstar Advanced Intelligent Tape (AIT) tape library. Vistage needed a solution capable of handling its existing workload, plus have room to grow. The company had 18 terabytes of vital data and expected an additional 50 terabytes after a conversion to high-definition video. The existing infrastructure also didn’t allow Vistage to meet its recovery time objective of 20 minutes.

“We would often have to redo our backups and our system would often crash,” said Saggese.

Growing Pains

Vistage stores a lot of material for presentations and posts on its Web site white papers and best practice modules on topics such as strategic planning, staffing and hiring, sales training, branding, marketing strategy and mergers and acquisitions.

Although he was only with the organization for a matter of months, it didn’t take long for Saggese, a 12-year backup veteran, to formulate a disaster recovery strategy that would meet and exceed the organization’s requirements.

The company’s IT department knew what it needed to accomplish: it wanted to back up to disk then take the disk to tape; reduce the backup window; and be able to back up more data and do it in a smaller window of time.

“We also had a new issue to deal with, which was how to balance the timing of backups with a recently opened location in China,” said Saggese.

Since its founding in1957, Vistage has continued to expand globally, nearly doubling in size every five years. The Vistage family of companies includes affiliates operating under the names TEC, The Executive Committee and The Executive Connection. Operations are based in several states in the U.S., the UK, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, Singapore and The Netherlands.

There was little shopping around for a solution. Saggese put in a call to Overland, a vendor he was familiar with. “Within two weeks, the vendor sent over an engineering architect to take a look at our environment and what we needed,” he said.

When it was decided which Overland products would give Vistage the backup and disaster recovery solution it needed, the organization worked with 1903 Solutions, a San Diego-based integrator, to purchase the equipment.

Vistage initially bought the Overland REO 9100c VTL with hardware compression and the NEOT 4100 scalable tape library. According to Overland, the REO 9100c is a disk-based backup and recovery appliance easily configured as a virtual tape library, standalone virtual tape drives, and disk volumes (LUNs).

The new products allowed Vistage to protect twice as much data in half the time it took previously.

A month later, the organization purchased and installed the REO 9500D, which features de-duplication.

“We were able to compress 36 terabytes of nominal data into 4 terabytes of actual data,” said Saggese. He also notes that deduplication improves throughput speed and decreases the amount of data to back up. It also allows the organization to meet its retention objectives, reduce reliance on offsite tapes and improve customer service levels.

Vistage also upgraded its Symantec Backup Exec software to V11d from V10d and installed it on a 64-bit G5 server. “We didn’t want a bottleneck at the backup server,” said Saggese.

The new disaster recovery architecture has allowed Vistage to meet its goals: it can back up more data faster; recovery is faster; data is retained for a longer period; disk backup gives the organization a layer of protection it didn’t have with tape; and off-site backups are managed remotely.

In fact, the new solution was put to the test and passed with flying colors in November, when wildfires broke out throughout Southern California and threatened the organization’s headquarters. Capacity improvements and remote management capabilities on the NEO 4100 enabled the organization to complete a full disk-to-disk-to-tape backup on a Sunday afternoon.

Planning for the Future

Going forward, Vistage expects it will need a second REO 9500D when it converts files from business presentations to high-definition video. The project is expected to take a year.

Additionally, knowing that backup data is only as good as the ability to search it, Vistage purchased Google Enterprise as the backbone of its search capability. The organization will meta tag all its files to make them searchable.

Finally, as part of its disaster recovery makeover, Vistage plans to move its production equipment out of its data center, currently located at its San Diego headquarters, to an off-site collocation facility either in Phoenix or Las Vegas. Test and development equipment will remain in its existing data center.

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Lynn Haber
Lynn Haber
Lynn works as an editor-at-large meeting with new and established channel partners in the IT and telecommunications ecosphere. She works to understand what motivates partners, vendors, and distributors as they navigate growth in a dynamic industry. Lynn has worked as a business and technology writer for magazines, journals, and online media, and has authored hundreds of articles on technology, communications, business management, employment and careers, industry, and products.

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