An Actifio Customer’s Story

Actifio works very hard to create outstanding technology and services that delight our customers. So, it is especially gratifying, when a long-time customer writes an unsolicited account of their experiences. The story that follows is one customer’s experience; told anonymously at their request. (Shortened and edited for clarity.)

Proof of Concept

The burden of constant worry about data backups for mission-critical systems can take its toll on any IT organization.  Worse still, after facing data corruption or complete catastrophe, are the long slow recovery times. This was a problem we wanted to solve. Even though we had never experienced a large-scale failure, we were guarded against a false sense of security. And, beyond backup, we had an exasperating problem impacting DBA productivity while they waited 14 hours to replicate production databases. So, the search for a solution began.

Research of the usual backup/recovery players yielded little success. We found no fresh approach that offered any unconventional way to complete a conventional task. Of course, storage snaps and clones were an option, but they didn’t adhere to our compliance requirements and added costs for additional licensing and storage capacity.

Then we discovered a radically simple solution; Actifio. (A few of us at first confused it with a popular yogurt brand.) Actifio had pioneered an innovative technology called copy data virtualization. The capability gave us hope that we could resolve the dilemma that kept DBAs and IT leadership up at night. Enticed by the promise to recover one of our behemoth SQL Databases in minutes and not hours, we executed a Proof of Concept.

Involving the fiercely protective, skeptical, and sometimes unpersuadable DBA team, was the right decision. Actifio passed their rigorous litmus test and successfully cured their pessimism. Comparing our 14-hour production database restore time with the 6 minutes to mount the Actifio backup was nothing short of astonishing. Clearly, we found what we were looking for.

 

DEPLOYMENT

We started with a small Actifio deployment for critical SQL workloads. We chose the physical Copy Data Storage (CDS) clusters over virtual appliances. And, the hardware agonistic solution made it very easy to repurpose our existing storage arrays behind the appliance. It was simple and non-intrusive, with an intuitive and user-friendly GUI.

As we became more familiar with Actifio capabilities, we had a moment of realization during a true-up and maintenance invoice for the (now previous) backup software. Actifio could replace this other solution, and simplify our management of backups, processes, and documentation. So, in addition to removing complexity in the management layer, we realized a reduction in the total cost of operating our backups. We reduced the number of Standard Operating Procedure and Work Instruction documents, decreased training requirements and cut maintenance tasks.

Once Actifio became our North American standard, the solution was rolled out to all Global IT hubs. It became our global standard with uniform governance and processes, enabling all Global teams to manage a single common solution.

 

RISING TO THE CHALLENGE

No different than other solutions, there are occasional bugs. However, Actifio consistently rises to the support challenge with a refreshing customer-centric approach. The escalation process is rapid and effective with every required resource brought to bear including constant communication of progress and status.

Our experience with Actifio’s customer centricity continued to product development. We needed support for Solaris zones backup for some critical applications. Actifio responded to our request for this feature making us feel more than just customers but collaborating technical partners. Adding to that, Actifio and its local presence established monthly checkpoints to discuss any open cases, concerns, questions, and suggestions. This attention has helped solidify our sense of partnership and continues to nurture the relationship between our teams.

Actifio technology has made life easier in another unexpected way. Database refreshes once meant the backup and DBA teams worked the better part of a weekend to complete a refresh. Now that 14-hour refresh is completed in minutes during regular work hours. The team has their weekends back and their work/life balance normalized.

Financially, Actifio has delivered incredible savings. Storage arrays have been repurposed and the cost of hundreds of TB in new arrays avoided. Nearly 60% of all production tier storage was freed from backups, and, as a result, overall performance has increased.

EMBRACING PROGRESS AND STAYING RELEVANT

As we continued assessing our current infrastructure architecture and footprint, additional changes were needed. Some workloads moved to the Cloud. After a five-year historical review of restore requests, we found few file/folder requests and even fewer incidents that dictated entire server restorations. Implementing Actifio’s On-Vault feature has allowed us to redirect all backups for non-mission critical systems, (roughly 80% of all production servers) to a public Cloud target. Taking advantage of the lower costs for object storage made this an easy decision. We also can access and restore backups by spinning up a virtual Actifio appliance in the same Cloud. It all works to maintain compliance with an offsite copy while simplifying our infrastructure and reducing costs.

It continues to be an exciting time, and we look forward to where this Actifio journey to success will take us next.

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