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Recovery-as-a-Service Kept the St. Louis Blues up During Playoffs

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NHL Team Records a Save with Axcient

When Larry Womack joined the St. Louis Blues National Hockey League team as IT manager at the beginning of 2013, he began to look for an alternative solution for backing up 12 servers and upwards of 9 terabytes of data. His goal was to find an enterprise grade solution that was appropriate for the needs of a prominent organization like the St. Louis Blues.

Womack quickly explored his options and selected Axcient’s onsite back-up solution because of its attractive price point and the ease with which the organization’s data could be backed up. It didn’t take long for that decision to pay off, when a couple of weeks later the team’s file server, which held irreplaceable historical photos and data, as well as organizational and financial information, crashed. Within an hour, the Axcient solution enabled Womack to fully restore the Blues’ data with employees barely taking notice of what could have been a disastrous event.

Evaluating the Line Up of IT Resources

Womack joined the staff of the St. Louis Blues at the tail-end of a lockout that delayed the start of the 2012-13 NHL season by three months. His first task was to do a full discovery to familiarize himself with the organization’s network resources. “During this process, I determined that one of our first priorities should be deploying a back-up solution,” he noted. “Our data is very critical, and in the heat of the season, it must be always accessible, so I wanted to find a new solution that we were sure was reliable and could protect our information.”

Womack quickly evaluated several different products, ultimately selecting Axcient for disaster recovery and business continuity, which would enable the Blues to quickly and easily protect its data. “I had a good local vendor who recommended Axcient, and the price point of the solution fit our budget,” he said.

Putting Together a Game Plan

What Womack perhaps was most skeptical of was how easy Axcient said it would be to set up the solution and schedule regular back-ups. The installation of the Axcient solution took place in February 2013, with the tech indicating that it would take him only about 30 minutes to set up what he needed and begin backing up the first server. In just 20 minutes, the back-up process started, and by the end of the first business day more than half of the Blues’ 12 servers were backed up. By the end of day two, all of the Blues’ servers were completely backed up and Womack was able to start scheduling future back-ups.

The Back-Up Gets the Save

Just two weeks after the Axcient appliance was installed, Womack had a chance to test its reflexes when the organization’s main file server crashed. At this point in February 2013, the NHL was in full swing, and the Blues were playing up to four times per week to make up games in season that was condensed due to the lock-out.

“It was a very intense time for the organization, both on the ice and in the back office,” Womack noted, explaining that one of his co-workers had tried to access the file server on a Saturday and couldn’t retrieve the data she needed. “I quickly realized that our server was dead and I panicked because this server hosted archived photos, historical information about the organization, financial data and spreadsheets – much of which was not replaceable.”

But Womack’s panic was short-lived. With the Axcient solution, he was able to quickly failover his server within an hour, a process that allowed the company to run a virtualized image of the original server with all the data and applications with minimal interruption.

In addition to the ease with which Axcient enabled the Blues to get back in the game after a catastrophic server failure, Womack said he likes the intuitive interface, which makes it easy to set up by just pointing and clicking and the ability to spin up virtual machines when necessary. “You can’t always get new hardware in as quickly as you need, so the virtual machine capabilities further enhances our ability to recover from problems and keep our IT infrastructure up-and-running,” he said.

Womack admits that initially he was skeptical that the Axcient solution would not work as promised because the deployment, initial back-up and regular back-up scheduling was so easy. But his skepticism quickly melted away when he was forced to put Axcient to the test. “Axcient pulled us out of the fire, and made what could have been a disastrous IT event an incident that was barely noticed by our staff,” Womack concluded.

READ MORE in the full PDF.


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