Case Study: Devine, Millimet & Branch

Devine, Millimet & Branch Achieves Fast Backup/Restores for Offices, with EVault

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Managing the IT needs of three offices in New Hampshire and one in Massachusetts can be challenging enough without adding the burden of a spotty backup and restore process to the mix. Just ask Bob DuBois, IT director for the Manchester, N.H.-based law firm of Devine, Millimet & Branch, P.A.

Since being established in 1947 by Maurice Devine and Joseph Millimet, the law firm has grown to encompass four regional offices and more than 200 employees, including more than 80 lawyers from over 30 law schools. Handling everything from domestic issues and bankruptcies to probate, real estate, government relations and construction law, Devine Millimet has made it its mission to serve the legal needs of businesses and individuals surrounding its New Hampshire offices in Manchester, Concord and North Hampton—not to mention those near the firm’s Andover, MA office.

With three quarters of a terabyte of data now under their care, Bob DuBois and his IT team had long struggled with how best to ensure the firm’s remote offices were getting adequate data protection.

Goals

Entrusting the firm’s tape-based backup and rotation schedule to non-IT staff at Devine Millimet’s three other offices had not proved an ideal situation. After multiple mishaps involving tapes not having been changed out properly, DuBois’ frustration finally boiled over when he was unable to successfully restore one of the remote office’s data because the tape hadn’t been changed. “Right then, I said I need to change my methodology and take control of my environment,” he said. He was hopeful a disk-based backup solution would allow the firm to achieve:

  • Centralized control over backups for the corporate office and its three branches
  • Viable, assured backups and restores without a lot of IT intervention
  • Improve the time it took to restore data and eliminate the need to use tape for routine backup/recovery
  • The removal of the “human element” during backups
  • A smooth transition from tape backup to a pure disk-to-disk backup paradigm

Challenges

As DuBois explains, his backup pain was most acute at the firm’s three satellite offices. “People would forget to put tape in, the tape drives would fail, they’d forget to take tapes out so the system would overwrite yesterday’s data,” he said. “There were just a whole host of tape-based issues that related to not having a dedicated IT staff person on-site whose job included changing tapes out every single day.”

DuBois knew he wanted to move the firm to a disk-based backup solution and began evaluating several he’d heard about within the local chapter of the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA). It wasn’t long before he realized that many vendors imposed more complexity and cost than the pure disk-to-disk backup solution he ultimately found with EVault InfoStage. “A lot of the solutions were either trying to emulate tape-based systems or would offer disk-to-disk functionality along with a monster machine tape library that would be very expensive to use on the back-end.”

Solutions

After evaluating EVault Software for 30 days, DuBois was convinced the system was just what he needed to centralize data protection and provide successful disk-based backups and restores for the firm’s four offices. “The thing that stood out was that it was easy to use and that it was purely disk-to-disk backup. I didn’t have to create a virtual tape library. I could just throw a bunch of disks at it, create the vault and I’m off and running,” he said.

DuBois also liked how easily the system performed. “Every solution backs up the data. It’s not the backups that concern me. It’s how quickly and easily I can do a restore without having to think. The EVault restore process is bulletproof. Restores just plain work. The software is fairly straightforward and easy to use, not awash in stuff we don’t need.”

He decided to move forward and install an InfoStage data vault in Devine Millimet’s primary Manchester office, then set up EVault agents for key servers at each of the firm’s three other offices. Using EVault DeltaPro™ technology, the agents would then send just the block-level changes across the firm’s T1 lines to the central, Manchester location.

Nearly three years later, EVault Software has scaled seamlessly to protect close to a terabyte of data associated with various Microsoft Windows file systems, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SQL Server.

Results

DuBois couldn’t be happier with how the process works compared to his old tape-based backup routines. “The backups were easy. The restores were even easier,” he noted. “I could sell EVault InfoStage software seven ways to Sunday to people because it’s just that simple.”

He’s since had many occasions to test how easy it is to restore data with EVault. When the firm’s Time and Attendance SQL database became corrupted, he relied on EVault to bring the system back up in under 20 minutes. Often, file restores can be accomplished in just a few minutes, instead of 20 or more that were required when the firm relied on backup tapes. “It’s easily a five-minute restore process versus a half an hour,” DuBois noted.

As opposed to the frequent frustration of missing or problematic backup tapes, DuBois now starts each day with automated confirmation of successful disk-to-disk backups.

“I see six emails in my Inbox every morning saying that my backups have completed. I’m a happy man. That’s the beauty because I’ve taken the human element out of it,” he said.