Augsburg College: Learning Curve

Augsburg College reduces IT time spent managing backups by 80 percent with CrashPlan PROe.

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Augsburg needed a backup solution that was, above all else, cost-effective. The college was relying on Symantec Backup Exec™ to protect data stored on its 90 servers, but increasing annual budget projections made continuing with the current backup strategy unsustainable for the future. Costs for Backup Exec had increased by as much as 25 percent year-over-year, and future licensing and data storage projections required a new, scalable solution that would also be easier for Augsburg’s small IT team to manage.

Critical Needs

  • A more cost-effective alternative to Symantec Backup Exec
  • Scalable over the long-term as data sets increase year-over-year
  • More efficient use of IT time and resources
  • Cross-platform support for Linux, Windows 2008 and OS X servers
  • A secure, reliable encryption system for sensitive research data

How It Works

Augsburg had been researching data storage and backup options for more than a year before choosing CrashPlan PROe. Mathew Galloway, systems administrator for Augsburg, said cost projections related to scalability, in addition to reliability and ease-of-use, were all major requirements in the search for a more robust data protection solution.

Additionally, as Galloway and his team calculated future projections and the continued growth of the college’s data sets, the rising yearly licensing fees for Symantec Backup Exec and the tape library became unsustainable strategies for the future.

“We knew it was barely working for the amount of data we had at the time — about 6.5 terabytes a week — which adds up pretty quick. There’s no way it would work for the long-term,” Galloway said.

The cross-platform nature of the college’s data setup was an underlying factor in the decision to move to a new solution. Previously, a mix of Linux, OS X and Windows servers prevented the Augsburg IT team from switching to a data de-duplication storage model, since Backup Exec only provides de-duplication options for Windows platforms. Without the option to implement data de-duplication in the existing setup, system admin time was heavily devoted to administering weekly incremental backups and lengthy, full backups to tape on weekends for storage in Augsburg’s three tape libraries. Split between the team’s five employees, managing the backup server and tape libraries was a constant overhead of time and resources each day.

CrashPlan is uniquely suited to meet the special data protection needs of educational institutions. For Augsburg, the cross- platform support provided Galloway and his team with a single, scalable tool to manage all data backups for both near- and long-term projections. Additional built-in features uniquely suited the higher-ed IT environment, including end-to-end encryption and customizable integrations within existing setups.

Augsburg selected CrashPlan PROe in December 2012, taking just over a month for deployment. Added benefits quickly became apparent. CrashPlan’s data de-duplication and hands-off, self-managed archives reduced IT time spent managing backups and the tape library by 80 percent.

Before CrashPlan, it took a lot of extra work to get a truly comprehensive view of full backups and make sure I had the most complete, uncorrupted versions. I had to compare data sets from different dates, look at file modification dates, and even go get it from the vault if it was backed up to tape in the library. With CrashPlan, it’s so much easier. I just press a button.
Matthew Galloway, Systems Administrator at Augsburg College

The amount of data storage space required also reduced significantly with CrashPlan. At 6.5 terabytes a week, Augsburg previously needed 104 terabytes of storage to hold four months of data sets. But after the same amount of time using CrashPlan, Augsburg had only reached 12 terabytes total in cloud storage used. “This is absolutely because of CrashPlan,” Galloway said. “It’s not even a savings we expected, but it’s a nice bonus.”

Just Press a Button

In the event of failed hard drives or data losses, restores with CrashPlan have become seamless for the Augsburg IT team. If a user has a corrupt file that needs to be restored, it takes a maximum of five minutes to recover, compared to the nearly 30 minutes it took using Backup Exec and the tape library method. Galloway attributes this to the user-friendly interface. “We don’t have to go find a tape or anything like that. It’s all in the same place.”

Faculty users, particularly those who are not on campus, are continuously updating sensitive research data. These staff members are typically required to save to a departmental server, requiring additional time to actively back up their data.

“It’s particularly the mobile users doing research that are heavily impacted,” Galloway said. “They have a lot of data, and for them to have to manage an external drive or some other storage device is a lot of overhead for them. We just prefer to get them out of that. CrashPlan can work in the background invisibly, and it works very well.”

Galloway explained, “Technology isn’t always the center of everyone’s lives, so they don’t always make it a priority. They don’t always realize how at risk they are for losses in the event of failing hard drives. CrashPlan can eliminate that risk and that worry for our team.”

When a staff member in the college’s marketing department experienced a corrupt file while on deadline, she was beside herself. “She needed that document,” Galloway said. “She’d worked late on it the night before, came in the next morning, and it was unusable. We were able to restore it for her almost immediately with CrashPlan. When you’re on a deadline, or you’ve spent hours working on a document, the ability to quickly restore a file is so valuable.”

CrashPlan’s Business Value