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Dell EMC data protection engineers firm's backup, DR

Engineering and environmental consulting business GEI needed quicker backup and had to keep an eye on DR cost. It found an answer in Dell EMC data protection software and hardware.

A dedicated disaster recovery site is beyond GEI Consultants' budget, so it turned to a combination of Dell EMC on-premises data protection and the AWS cloud.

Based in Woburn, Mass., with more than 800 employees and 42 offices nationwide, GEI provides engineering and technical services to private and public sector customers around the world. GEI needs quick access to its data on engineering projects, and backup is more difficult because of the company's rapid data growth.

Adam Schmitt, network operations supervisor for GEI, said the firm's data has nearly tripled in size in the last two years, and it needed a product that could scale with data growth and provide an off-site backup location.

Schmitt said he couldn't get management buy-in for an external DR site that could cost between $250,000 and $350,000 a year, but AWS lets GEI scale as far as needed. GEI uses Dell EMC Cloud Disaster Recovery on AWS that works with a Data Domain disk library and Dell EMC Data Protection Software.

The Dell EMC data protection products improved performance across the board, speeding up backups, Schmitt said. He was especially impressed with the deduplication ratio of 70-1.

Adam Schmitt, GEI ConsultantsAdam Schmitt

GEI previously used Veeam, but found it needed faster backup. On a nightly basis, GEI backs up about 135 TB. Schmitt said it now takes around four hours to back up 10 TB servers that could take days to back up in the past.

"We have some sites that are greater than 6 TB that successfully back up on a nightly basis, which most other backup companies would not be able to do without physically installing appliances at each of those locations that are over 5 TB," Schmitt said.

Making use of on-premises and cloud data protection

GEI uses Dell EMC Data Protection Software to back up applications running on about 140 VMware virtual machines (VMs) across its offices to Data Domain in a data center. Dell EMC Cloud Disaster Recovery software replicates backups to AWS S3 object storage. If it experiences a disaster, GEI can run VMs on AWS Elastic Compute Cloud and later fail back to the on-site data center, according to Dell EMC.

I get the peace of mind at night that I have a scalable option.
Adam SchmittNetwork operations supervisor, GEI Consultants

Beth Phalen, president and general manager of the Dell EMC data protection division, said most customers are incorporating the cloud into data protection or in their planning. She claimed Dell EMC offers two-click failover and three-click failback.

"Automated failback from the cloud is a crucial part of what customers need," Phalen said.

GEI has not had a DR event since implementing the new Dell EMC data protection platform, and Schmitt said he is happy he didn't spend the money on a secondary site.

"But, at the same time, I get the peace of mind at night that I have a scalable option," Schmitt said.

Phalen said the customers most interested in cloud disaster recovery are ones who can't afford a separate, physical DR site.

Furthermore, "that data growth isn't going to slow down anytime soon," Phalen said.

For its primary storage, GEI uses Dell PowerEdge hosts running VMware ESXi 6.5 at all of its remote edge sites and a Dell Compellent SAN in each of its data centers.

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