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The Hunger Task Force was dealing with the typical problems associated with an aging backup system. The biggest issue was that it took up to 72 hours for backup jobs to finish and they often ran into regular business hours, leading to interruptions in production and downtime for storage management tasks.
The organization in late 2014 installed two Exablox OneBlox devices as its primary file storage system, and also to protect data in real-time, in combination with a Unitrends virtual appliance.
OneBlox was developed to handle primary storage as well as data protection. It includes a scale-out file system that uses object storage as its underlying technology with built-in, inline deduplication and continuous data protection (CDP).
"Exablox handles everything on the file level," said Chris Andrews, IT manager at the Hunger Task Force, a 70-employee non-profit food bank based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "Basically, it's invisible. To me, it is analogous to Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). The OneBlox is the file-level shadow of all the files that are modified in real-time. Exablox basically plays the part of a VSS in our environment because we have limited storage."
The OneBlox appliances replaced an aging Windows-based server and allowed end users to directly recover data from their own computers at a deep granular level. Andrews said the OneBlox's CDP and its ability to replicate data across a WAN for disaster recovery gives him rapid recovery and eliminated the need for tape.
Before installing OneBlox, Hunger Task Force had recovery points of more than 20 hours for files. Now, that is down to minutes.
"So I can get down within five minutes of any file. [The recovery process] is, at most, a five- or six-click process, depending on how deep into the backup you want to go," Andrews said "This is continuous. No more tape and no more offsite storage."
Hunger Task Force has one OneBlox device on-premise and another off site. Andrews said the file storage systems eliminated the need for hard-drive backups, as well as for rotating backup media off-site to comply with disaster recovery and contingency policies. Each OneBlox holds 12 TB of storage.
"The devices keep syncing between each other and the backups can be done at the file level," Andrews said. "Once every year, I grab one large ZIP file to archive on a second site."
The on-premise OneBlox serves as a backup target for Unitrends Enterprise Backup, which runs as a VMware vSphere virtual appliance and protects applications running in VMware. Hunger Task Force employees can instantly recover data from OneBlox.
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