The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is the largest organization in the world representing the interests of professional musicians. Whether negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying to legislators, the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape.
Data Storage Corporation (DSC) was selected by the American Federation of Musicians Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM&E Pension Fund), headquartered in New York City, to provide backup and recovery solutions to ensure business continuity.
The AFM&E Pension Fund has some unique information needs. While the organization is small, there are more than 80,000 subscribers that often need access to records that go back 40 years.
These subscribers are professional musicians from the U.S. and Canada that retire after working for decades for hundreds of employers and have paystubs that contribute to the pension fund from every employer. These paystubs and the contributions to their pensions need to be recorded and available.
The CTO, Guy Sanfilippo, explained that there were decades of microfilm and microfiche files in addition to all the newer electronic files. In the mid 1990s, he began using imaging and workflow and all the data was digitized, stored and entered into one master database.
With the mass amounts, over 2.8 TB, of information stored in this one database to run AFM&E Pension Fund’s operations, its core systems were protected and fairly easy to recover upon failure, loss of data or a full DR scenario. Using tape backup methods in the past, backup and recovery had been quite time consuming and the organization’s RTO and RPO requirements were not being met. A change needed to be made.
Selecting a DR Partner
AFM&E Pension Fund selected DSC’s managed offsite DSC Vault and DSC DR solutions, powered by Asigra, as well as DSC professional services for network upgrades and data, SharePoint, Exchange and VMware infrastructure implementation and management.
Since 2001, DSC has been providing efficient, cost-effective and transformational cloud backup and recovery solutions that align the value of data with the cost of protecting it.
“DSC allowed us to evaluate the Asigra powered solution and they provided detailed data reports and a great explanation of all the Asigra benefits and services; from being agentless software to providing features such as LAN discovery, de-duplication, compression, encryption, continuous data protection, incremental forever technology, near metal restores and a local storage option for fast recovery (LAN speeds). These features/benefits, along with DSC having multiple data centers and providing replication of our Dell SAN, as well as working with us on converting physical servers to virtual (using VMware) and showing how easily the Asigra solution works in virtual environments was a very compelling proposal and made our choice simple… DSC and Asigra was the solution for us,” explained Sanfilippo.
The Current IT Environment
In AFM&E Pension Fund’s core network there is a mix of systems and networking gear from Cisco, HP, Dell, Checkpoint and Stonesoft on the hardware side to MS Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, document management software and many specialized systems on the software side. It has Dell Equallogic SANS (replicated to the DSC Westbury NY Data Center) and mostly physical servers running specialized Pension Fund applications (mostly Windows-based, some Linux servers). Currently, DSC’s solutions powered by Asigra are protecting 13 servers, running over 25 backup jobs with protection of FLAT files, an Exchange database and Exchange MAPI, Domain Controllers, SharePoint, Linux server data, as well as the system states on all the machines. AFM&E Pension Fund also has numerous laptop users, which they are now trialing VMware’s VDI environment for virtual desktop. “We have seen excellent compression ratios from the DSC/Asigra solution. The overall compression rate is 5.86 to 1 but for our SQL-based applications, we are running at 6.39 to 1,” explained Sanfilippo.
With Data Protection Server, a “snapshot” of all data being backed up online may also be stored locally. This provides a Hybrid Cloud Solution by protecting the data off-site in the Public Cloud and also locally in AFM&E Pension Fund’s Private Cloud. In the event of a disaster, we can restore the latest snapshot of data directly from the Data Protection Server on the local network instead of over the Internet. In this way, the local restore feature enables AFM&E Pension Fund to restore our latest data quickly at LAN speed.
Return on Investment
AFM&E Pension Fund has realized a significant value as a result of switching to DSC’s solutions.
- Backup times have reduced from 20 hours for weekly backups to less than 1 hour using the Incremental Forever technology in Asigra’s solution.
- The complexity of creating and managing backup sets for individual applications and systems reduced from a multi-day activity, to a matter of 1 to 2 hours upon initial setup.
- Once DSC setup AFM&E Pension Fund’s local storage/cache option, it was able to reduce full system restores (near metal) from a 2 day activity to a 2 to 4 hour activity.
- The Fund is now able to provide customized RPO and RTO for each business unit, internal division or specific application.
- cost savings from paying for Symantec Backup software on each server, to now an Agentless system are significant.
The IT staff now has more time to dedicate to other projects and, when a data or system recovery is needed, the one-click restoration and Message Level Restore of Exchange Users are an IT department’s dream application, according to Sanfilippo.