Magazine Article | December 13, 2012

VAR Relieves Healthcare Client's Backup Pain With Disk-Based Solution

By Pedro Pereira, Business Solutions magazine.

A solutions provider earns additional business from an existing client after a demo of its automated disk-based backup solution.

After learning of an existing client’s data backup pain, Advanced Computer Connections (ACC) of Norwalk, OH, quickly prescribed a cure — an automated disk-based solution to replace an aging tapedrive backup system. The old system was taking 12 hours or more to perform overnight backups, which meant the process was still running when employees reported to work in the morning.

The client, Northern Ohio Medical Specialists (NOMS), is a physician group with more than 40 doctors in seven locations. Secure backups of patient data and billing information are a major priority, and while no data was ever compromised, the client was starting to experience occasional backup failures.

NOMS’ data had grown to 20 terabytes, and the old system couldn’t hack the load. The lethargic backups hurt productivity and put the client at risk of running afoul of HIPAA regulations. “Tape-drive backups were starting to put a strain on the network,” says Denao Ruttino, CEO of ACC, a solutions provider with 29 employees that focuses on network consulting and managed services.

The Promise Of Improved Productivity Sells Backup Solution
During a routine quarterly meeting to review IT needs and status, the client apprised ACC of its backup woes. “The client required a backup solution that could handle a high amount of daily changes due to a dynamically changing data environment and would also integrate with SQL, Active Directory, a SAN (storage area network) device, and multiple servers,” he explains.

Even though NOMS was already an ACC client, the company sought bids from a couple of ACC’s competitors. In reviewing available options, ACC decided on the Unitrends Recovery-731 and Unitrends Recovery-832 data backup and disaster recovery appliances. Working in tandem, the units would completely change backups at NOMS from an overnight affair to a dynamic, as-needed system. ACC Sales Manager Shannon Clark says Unitrends calls the approach “incremental forever.” Every time the system detects a change, such as a modification to a patient record, it automatically backs up the new data.

Clark also explains that while its existing relationship with ACC factored into the client’s decision to stick with the solutions provider, NOMS needed to assure itself the solution proposed by ACC was the right one. Ultimately, though, the Unitrends solution wasn’t that tough a sell. “We were able to demonstrate the Unitrends bare-metal recovery in action, and that was the best way for the client to see that it actually performed the way it was described,” says Ruttino.

A Two-Week Rip-And-Replace Implementation
It took about two weeks to implement the Unitrends system. The actual installation took one day, and the rest of the time was spent on network integration, fine-tuning, and training. Integration was simplified by the fact that none of the old backup system remained in place; it was a full-on replacement. Integration with other network components, such as servers and a SQL database went smoothly, according to Ruttino and Clark. As for training, it took a few hours to explain the software to the staff, and a video on the Unitrends website served as a reference for questions that came up.

With NOMS becoming more weary of the laborintensive requirements of the tape-backup system, the Unitrends solution’s automated approach spoke for itself, Ruttino says. No longer was there a need to routinely swap out tapes, spend money on replacing malfunctioning tapes, or dedicate labor to managing the strain the tape backups were putting on the network. This freed the IT department from many manual time-consuming tasks. The new system also helped doctors and nurses by eliminating their previous frustration regarding a slow network when conducting records searches. Having deployed the Unitrends solution successfully, ACC now uses the project to win new business by showing other customers how they can improve their data backups.