Case Study: AmeriQuest
AmeriQuest Transports Member Data to Safe Destinations
AmeriQuest provides fleet lifecycle management, business services and purchasing leverage to its private fleet and truckload carrier members throughout the U.S. and Canada. “We aggregate the buying power of our one-thousand network members, who operate a total of 700,000 vehicles and pass the savings on to them,” says Kate Freer, Director of Marketing, AmeriQuest.
The result is cumulative business intelligence and across the board savings that help members compete aggressively in the marketplace. AmeriQuest is so effective that many members outsource several of their operations to the company. To manage the complexity of its operations, AmeriQuest maintains servers and databases brimming with core data such as inventories, transactions, and customer data.
To safeguard its precious information stores against loss, the company was using a tape backup system and then storing tapes offsite. But, the solution was fraught with challenges, including mechanical failures. AmeriQuest needed to better preserve its members’ critical data, and meet recovery objectives to keep the data available.
To achieve this, AmeriQuest sought a fast, convenient and reliable backup and recovery solution.
When AmeriQuest began its search for a better backup and recovery system, its goals were to:
- Improve and expand backup and recover capabilities
- Simplify and quicken the backup and recovery process to meet RTOs
- Eliminate backup failures
- Decrease backup and recovery costs
- Increase off-site backup resources
Previously, AmeriQuest used tape, but the tape backup devices often failed and the solution was slow, costly and time-consuming. It took an entire weekend, Friday night to Sunday night, to backup 54 servers in 4 locations to tape. “Even then, the tapes went bad, and sometimes the software didn’t work,” George Osborne, lead network engineer, AmeriQuest, adds. When it did work, the solution could only back up one server at a time.
Tape did not provide recoverable backups week-to-week. “We had to go back to the previous week’s backup. And, it took all day to recover a mailbox from Exchange,” says Osborne, which did not meet the company’s Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs).
“At our headquarters in New Jersey, the RTO is 24- to 48- hours,” says Osborne, “but other sites with critical servers have two- to four- hour recovery time requirements.” A full day for recovery was unacceptable.
With guidance from value added reseller Contour Data Solutions, AmeriQuest selected EVault Software, a software-based disk-to-disk backup solution, from EVault, a Seagate Company. Contour Data Solutions is a premier provider for strategic IT solutions and data management. Contour is comprised of senior technology experts whose primary focus is their customer. “EVault’s EVault Software was easy to use. It was available at an excellent price point,” says Mike Rowbotham, IT Manager at AmeriQuest.
The company purchased and implemented four vaults at four locations, increasing its backup resources by enabling two sets of on-site and off-site repositories for redundancy and disaster recovery. Each location backs up its servers locally for quick RTO and to a secondary location for disaster recovery protection.
“Setup was straightforward. EVault documented the systems we had in place before their engineer came on site. Then, he worked with our network engineer and had the software up and running by the end of the day,” says Rowbotham.
Once the solution was operational, the staff was impressed by EVault’s efficiency and security. EVault only sends and stores new and changed blocks of data, shrinking the backup window and dramatically reducing the storage footprint. End-to-end encryption ensures that the data is secure throughout the backup, data transfer, and recovery processes.
Now, AmeriQuest’s backups take 80-percent less time than they did with their previous solution. AmeriQuest can easily fit backups within its 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. backup window.
And from a single management console, Osborne can easily configure and automatically run backup jobs to two different locations. “I used to spend half of every Friday replacing tapes and four hours a month working on backup issues. Now, I don’t have to do anything,” Osborne says. “We configured the software once and EVault auto-archives the data.”
Data restores are equally effortless. “We did a database restore from EVault. It only took 20 minutes for a full day’s data,” says Osborne. Where the previous solution would have taken all day, EVault Software enabled AmeriQuest to easily meet its RTOs.
EVault Agents for Windows perform source-side deduplication by backing up only new or altered blocks of data. The agents also perform adaptive compression for more compact data transmission over the wire. The company’s SQL Servers use EVault Plug-ins for SQL Server to facilitate database backups.
EVault’s EVault Open File Manager protects open files, enabling seamless backups without disrupting file access. With EVault’s EVault Reports, AmeriQuest receives ongoing confirmation on which backup jobs succeeded or failed, as well as graphical depictions showing how much data storage has been used on the vault.
Once the data is stored on the vault, EVault Software continues to look for any duplicate data that may have been renamed, but was not subsequently identified as a duplicate during source-side deduplication. This backend deduplication on the vault uniquely identifies matching blocks across all files within a backup job and eliminates duplicates, where needed.
EVault Software performs a number of data integrity checks throughout to ensure backup data sets are always sound and readily available to be restored, when needed. Although only changed backup data is sent to the vault, EVault Software operates quite differently from a typical incremental, tape-based backup. Building virtual “full” backups dynamically when the jobs arrive at the vault, EVault Software makes data immediately available for recovery with a simple restore process that EVault calls a single-pass restore.
AmeriQuest’s Osborne has recovered an additional 20 hours a month that he can devote to core network duties now that he does not have to ‘put out fires’ as he did with the old backup solution. And, Rowbotham can sleep at night knowing that AmeriQuest’s data is safe.