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Design firm re-engineers remote office backup; dumps servers, storage

Nine-office design firm replaced servers and storage in its branch office with Riverbed devices to streamline remote office backup and save money.

Mazzetti Inc., an engineering and design firm, used an assortment of servers, storage and backup tools throughout its branch offices when it was faced with a technology refresh as it started to climb back in 2012 from the global financial crash.

Mazzetti, which employs about 150 people across nine offices, needed a cost-effective way to consolidate and streamline its backup and disaster recovery technology and processes across several remote offices in different states. Each office had at least one storage array from EMC, Hewlett-Packard LeftHand or NetApp, along with three or four physical servers or a virtual server, and local tape.

"Like a lot of other companies in our industry, we grew through acquisitions," said Mike Rinken, Mazzetti's director of information technology. "I had all these pieces and parts and making it work together was difficult. I had to get a handle around our backup and I needed data recovery consistency. It was kind of all over the place."

Mazzetti standardized and consolidated its remote office backup and disaster recovery processes on Riverbed Technology Inc.'s Whitewater cloud storage gateway and Granite edge-to-core appliances in mid-2013. The company installed a Granite Core appliance in its central location in Denver, along with eight Granite Edge devices in branch offices located in San Francisco; Sacramento, Calif.; New Orleans; Baton Rouge; La.; Portland, Ore.; and Nashville, Tenn.

Seven physical and two virtual Whitewater devices, which are used to deduplicate, compress and encrypt data before sending data to the cloud, are installed in the Denver office.

"All the servers were decommissioned," Rinken said. "But Whitewater still needed exit points to back up to. We use Whitewater devices for multiple backup streams to the Amazon S3 cloud. All our VMDK [virtual machine disk] files, future project data files and administrative files sit on Granite Edge devices."

Granite allows companies to back up at the data center instead of in branch offices. Granite presents itself as a target to applications and uses predictive algorithms to determine which blocks to deliver to the remote office from the data center. Core devices hold the full data set in the main office, and Edge devices replicate changes from the branch offices.

If a Granite Edge device crashes, Rinken can bring back the data from the core system.

"It's an efficient transfer mechanism," he said. "The only things that are in the branch offices are a switch, a router and a Granite Edge device. That's all I need for the branch offices."

Mazzetti had Whitewater appliances in each branch office before implementing Granite. Now, the Whitewater appliances are only in the main office to back up the Granite Core.

"If I had to replace my servers and storage in those offices, I would be looking at a significant expense," Rinken said. "Instead, we decided to buy an Edge device and have it act as the server and storage. We are saving a significant amount of money."

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