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Nashville Red Cross turns to Mozy backup after decentralization

The Nashville chapter of the American Red Cross outsourced its backup to EMC's Mozy service after getting control of its IT purchasing decisions back from the national organization.

When the American Red Cross returned IT purchasing decisions into the hands of its local Nashville chapter last year, new deals with local vendors helped to cut costs and ensure better support. But managing data backups was a job the local chapter still wanted in someone else's hands, and so it sought out a managed service from EMC Corp. subsidiary Mozy.

The chapter's technology solutions manager Michael Dodd said the IT infrastructure, including backups to tape through Symantec Corp.'s Backup Exec software, had been managed via VPN connections by administrators at headquarters in Washington D.C. However, the Nashville group didn't want to get into the business of swapping out tapes for its 70 GB of Windows data.

The chapter first tried out an Iron Mountain data protection service rebranded through the Red Cross's telecommunications reseller (Dodd said he wasn't sure if it was Iron Mountain's LiveVault or Connected service under the covers, but it was for servers, where LiveVault is most often sold).

Dodd said this first attempt was a "horrible experience" during installation. "I think part of it was working with our telecommunications reseller," he said. "I think there was a disconnect there as far as how the process worked and with license keys, downloading and installing the right version for our servers."

He added that it was "an all or nothing type backup situation. That service didn't let you specify as granularly what you can actually backup. It also didn't offer VSS features, and Mozy did. That's real big in our environment having Microsoft servers in our environment."

Dodd knew what features Mozy offered because he had been using its consumer service at home. Around last September, he began pricing online backup services other than the one his reseller was offering, and looked at Carbonite, Mozy, and a few others.

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Organizations have been slow to adopt storage services over the years, and concerns remain despite recent hype over cloud computing. Some of those concerns include a lack of network bandwidth on wide-area or Internet links that connect users to service providers; security of sensitive data in a multi-tenant environment; vendor stability; and slow restores. This last issue has come up in particular with Mozy, after some users reported frustration with long restore times last year.

Dodd said he had confidence in Mozy because it is owned by a large company and he had personal experience with the service. He said he's done test restores on individual files, but hasn't had to restore an entire server using Mozy.

Dodd added that he's kept precautionary safety nets in place locally even as he's used the service.

"I did parallel backups about 30 days until I was confident everything was up and running and the VSS software was working properly," he said. "I [also] take copies of my virtual machines and store them on different servers" for localized data protection as a "failsafe".

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