Case Study: Melanchthon

Melanchthon Standardizes with EVault Plug-n-Protect

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Melanchthon in its present form is a result from the merger of Christian College Hainaut and Melanchthon College. Melanchthon secondary school serves 3,000 students on nine sites in four cities (Rotterdam, Bergschenhoek, BerkelRodenrijs, and Bleiswijk) in The Netherlands. The duties of the school’s Director of IT, Martin Wiersma, include ensuring the school’s applications remain up and running, and that student and staff data is backed up and recoverable, at all times at each site.

Goals

Over the years, the school’s IT infrastructure developed independently at each of its nine campuses. For example, servers resided in multiple locations and ran different operating systems.

In early 2009, Wiersma and his team began exploring ways to update the Melanchthon’s tapebased data backup and recovery solution, which was inadequate in several ways. It could not properly back up the school’s Novell GroupWise email system, it required four or more hours of staff time for daily backups at each site, and the entire system, storing more than 4TB of critical data, was vulnerable to disaster.

“Each of the nine sites had to sequentially run a daily tape-based backup,” notes Wiersma. “Tapes became faulty. Data was missed. Staff forgot to run the backup. I never felt confident of a full system backup. And when we did a restore, it often took a whole day to find the data we needed, and another day to restore it.”

Wiersma knew the school needed a flexible, reliable solution that could grow alongside Melanchthon and adapt to its evolving needs.

Challenges

Integrating a new backup and recovery system into the school’s existing IT environment would not be easy. Melanchthon relied on a mixed, 13-server Novell NetWare and Microsoft Windows infrastructure—the Windows system ran SQL Server and Exchange Server—to support a number of unique educational applications across its network. All nine sites were connected via a wide area network and used the Novell GroupWise email system.

A new backup and recovery solution also had to meet the human, as well as technical, needs of the school. “The existing system was administered largely by the teaching or maintenance staff,” says Wiersma. “Teachers were denied valuable teaching and class preparation time. And maintenance staff often lacked the skills to successfully administer the backup.”

Wiersma wanted a system that would free up staff time, one that could be managed centrally and quickly—rather than by nine individuals in nine locations.

Finally, the new system had to meet quality-of-service and budgetary goals. “I needed a system I could set and forget, one that could perform a full system backup each night without me worrying it would miss important information,” states Wiersma. “And the school IT budget is limited, so I needed pre-configured hardware and storage to deliver significantly lower costs than I could get by purchasing separate components.”

Solution

With all this in mind, Wiersma approached Avantage in The Netherlands, a reseller partner of EVault, A Seagate Company. Avantage recommended EVault’s EVault® Plug-n-Protect, an all-inone backup and recovery appliance comprising pre-configured hardware and storage plus a comprehensive suite of EVault backup and recovery software.

Wiersma quickly grasped the cost and deployment benefits afforded by a single vendor’s allin- one appliance. The cost was lower than purchasing components separately, and Wiersma would get a single point of contact for hardware and storage support. And he was impressed by the solution’s disk-to-disk technology, wide platform and application support, ease of use, and deduplication, compression, and encryption capabilities.

Wiersma felt confident the system could easily and economically grow beyond 6TB of storage— data storage is increasing as the school’s infrastructure becomes more complex—as well as protect its Windows (including SQL Server and Exchange Server) and NetWare systems.

Mid-year in 2009, EVault and Advantage teamed up to install, in less than 48 hours, EVault Plug-n- Protect offsite in Avantage’s data center to protect the entire Melanchthon infrastructure. “It was pain-free,” notes Wiersma, who, along with his team, can now remotely manage the system on a day-to-day basis.

Results

Six months later, Wiersma and Melanchthon are very happy with the results.

Teaching staff managing backups, maintenance staff loading tapes, hours wasted working on an unreliable system—all are things of the past. “The system continues to go from strength to strength, protecting over 4TB of data each night within two to three hours,” says Wiersma. “The teaching and maintenance staff can now concentrate on their full-time jobs and leave the data backup to me.”

Wiersma and his team enjoy a centralized and reliable backup solution. “We were the first school in Europe to implement EVault Plug-n-Protect, and we are delighted with the results,” comments Wiersma. “I have complete peace of mind knowing that if we need the data, it will be there. I estimate our EVault solution has reduced staff backup time by 95 percent.”

Wiersma says his experience with EVault could not have been better. “We have 13 agents, several unique applications backing up to one device, and numerous file servers,” he says. “This is one of the most complicated IT infrastructures imaginable and we have not had a single problem with EVault.”

Melanchthon is on strong footing for the future as well. “We protect 4TB each night and have capacity to do more,” says Wiersma. “As our infrastructure changes and develops, so will Plug-n- Protect, adapting and working with us. It gives me huge confidence that our needs are being met today and tomorrow.”