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Abilene Christian University Studies Advanced Data Management

Partnering with Actifio for Strategic Technology Application

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Who: Abilene Christian University.

Challenges: Transforming a legacy tape backup environment to reliable disk-based data backup & Disaster Recovery (DR) to gain improved scope, speed, and simplicity.

IT Environment: One on-campus data center, 90% virtualized, SQL, Oracle, WordPress, Google email, IBM Cognos

Solution: Partnered with Actifio for the transition from tape and expanded coverage to include backup, DR, deduplication, and future expansion to cloud-based services.

Executive Summary

Advancing strategic uses of technology throughout their academic programs is an essential factor in how Abilene Christian University prepares students for a media-rich future. Their IT infrastructure needs to maintain advanced capabilities, and they faced a challenge to transform an aging legacy tape backup environment to a reliable disk-based platform with improved scope, speed, and simplicity. Based upon favorable reviews from university contacts, Actifio was chosen as their new backup and disaster recovery platform. The outcome has led to a true partnership between Abilene Christian and Actifio that has streamlined their processes, minimized backup and recovery times, and provided improved data management control. With active support, regular open communications, and efficient Actifio technology, Abilene reduced IT headcount and lowered licensing expenses by 20%.

Abilene Christian University Overview

Founded in 1906, Abilene Christian University is a private, non-profit university committed to transformative, energized learning. Supported by a faculty of Christian scholars, the university prepares undergraduate and graduate students for service and leadership throughout the world. Division I athletics, intramural sports, 100+ student organizations, and many service and worship opportunities contribute to the university’s vibrant student life. Also, ACU Online offers graduate and doctoral degrees geared toward working professionals.

The Challenge

Technology is an integral element of Abilene Christian University learning strategies. From architecture and engineering to science and music, technology is integrated across its diverse curriculum. Students are equipped for a technology-rich future using mobile devices, mixed media, online education, blogging, and more. Toward that end, the University IT organization acts as an advanced support function for both administrative and academic requirements. To remain flexible and avoid excess physical infrastructure, they have adopted an applications-as-a-service strategy with apps hosted remotely whenever feasible. However, to manage expenses, most infrastructure elements continue to be maintained in an on-campus virtualized environment that is regularly refreshed. Now, the time had come to modernize the university’s data backup and disaster recovery platform by replacing their aging TSM Tivoli tape backup system with an advanced disk-based backup capability

“Actifio has enabled us to pivot from traditional tape backups, reduce our overall backup licensing costs, and expand our disaster preparedness by integrating the cloud as a backup target.”


The Solution

As they reviewed options, the IT team looked closely at Actifio. They heard favorable reviews from other university IT organizations and developed an initial plan to use Actifio for data management on their storage area network while continuing the use of TSM as a backup agent. However, as their contract renewal time approached, IBM increased license pricing to the degree that forced a re-evaluation. “As we began to formulate a new approach, we realized that Actifio’s native backup agents could be used to not only manage the storage but backup the entire system,” said Brant. “And it could be done natively within the virtual environment, and it wouldn’t increase the cost for what we had already purchased.” The outcome for Abilene Christian has streamlined their processes. Where restoring files with the former tape system could take days or weeks, Actifio can do it in minutes. System admins have greater control. Support is easy. Communications are regular and open. A full-time backup administrator is no longer needed, and license expenses are 20% lower.”

“Actifio is much more than a vendor to us. They’re a partner. Now, they’ve taken on an active and invaluable advisory role as we consider moving backup or DR to the cloud.”



1. Partnership with a strategic ally in support of university objectives

2. Technical functionality, feature richness, flexibility, and ease of use

3. Elimination of one full-time backup administrator staff position

4. Decrease in license expense by 20%

5. Fast, helpful and responsive support

6. High-performance backup and recovery with recovery times reduced from days to minutes

7. Data management/protection streamlined and simplified