Health Clinic Uses Cloud-Based Business Continuity Solution to Eliminate Application Downtime
DeKalb Clinic Chartered is a community of dedicated healthcare specialists with a commitment to excellence that goes beyond physicians. From nurses to medical records staff, the clinic takes pride in providing the very best personalized care for its patients.
This level of commitment to excellent customer care is supported by the technical infrastructure that is needed to run the business. Fred Torres, programmer and hardware analyst, is one of four dedicated IT staff members who is tasked with overseeing the IT infrastructure for the clinic, including 25 servers, a SAN (storage area network) and 16TB of data.
The IT Emergency
Like many companies, DeKalb Clinic was using antiquated backup software that gave them a false sense of security. “We were using Symantec Backup Exec and backing up to tapes using the grandfather-father-son method,” Fred said. In this backup scheme, daily backups are rotated daily, weekly backups are rotated weekly, and monthly backups are rotated monthly. Then there was a yearend backup taken. Tapes were then stored in a fireproof safe at the clinic.
With so many backup tapes, DeKalb Clinic thought it was covered in case of an IT outage. But when a failure happened last January, things didn’t work quite as expected.
“We had a dual disk failure in the SAN,” Fred said. “First, one disk gave during the rebuilding process, and then another disk failed in the same group and put everything to a stop. We couldn’t access the data. Even worse, the technician that arrived to fix the SAN took out the wrong hard drive so we were down three drives. At this point no one could access any data, especially people using NextGen, our EHR [electronic health records] software. It was a disaster.”
The failure happened on a Friday morning, which meant only limited interruption in operations for the Clinic, and it took Fred all of Friday and Friday night to get everything back in production. But recovering the data from tapes proved to be tricky. “It took us 8 or 9 hours to restore part of the data that was corrupt because we had to find the right tape, insert it into the drive, verify it was indeed the correct one, then restore the data and test it,” Fred said. “It was extremely time consuming.”
The Prescription for a New Disaster Recovery Solution
The incident with the SAN and the time it took to recover from tapes with Backup Exec prompted Fred Torres and Diane Palmer (IT Manager) to begin their search for a better solution. That’s when they found Axcient. “Being able to get rid of tapes is awesome,” Fred said. “Backup Exec was very painful to use and it doesn’t have recovery options like BMR (bare metal restore). In the event that you have to recover a full server you first have to install the operating system, then all the applications before you are able to recover the data. It takes time and is very cumbersome.”
Thanks to Axcient’s cloud-based platform for the protection of data, applications, and the entire IT infrastructure, DeKalb Clinic has begun the process to eliminate their use of tapes, and gain more options and faster recovery times. “Using Axcient means that I can now failover a server to the local appliance or the cloud and get it running in minutes,” Fred said.
The Axcient solution uses a local appliance that gives companies fast recovery and local protection for data and applications. The appliance (which can be physical or virtual) establishes a secure connection with the Axcient cloud and safely stores the encrypted data off-site. Data and applications can then be accessed via a single Web interface.
Unlike most legacy backup products (which force users to sift through log files, alerts and other system messages), the Axcient Web interface provides a dashboard for users to quickly and easily spot what needs attention. “I was not a big fan of the way Backup Exec does things,” Fred said. “The log files are very cryptic, taking a lot of time to understand and manage and their agent-based solution means I have to install software in each server so if backup exec’s agent’s service is down, it wouldn’t back up or notify me about it. I had to keep going to the logs to verify if everything was OK. Axcient is so much easier.”
Axcient helps companies like DeKalb Clinic maintain constant access to their systems, applications and data. “It is like night and day,” Fred said. “Before, we had just backup, but now, with Axcient, we have true business continuity. We can finally relax knowing we can trust Axcient to keep our systems up and running.”