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Feeling the Heat in Winter Park

September 14, 2009

Summary

The City of Winter Park, Florida Cooled Its Data Center Hot Spots with VMware and Symantec Backup and Security Solutions.
While energy savings are always a bullet point justification for using virtualization technology, the City of Winter Park, Florida, measured its savings in degrees—thermometer degrees. Over a span of a few years, the city grew its IT infrastructure from 20 to 55 servers in one air-conditioned server room, only to find its cooling system struggling to maintain a computer-friendly environment, with temperatures often reaching 86 degrees. By virtualizating 42 of its servers onto just four systems, the city will save nearly $30,000 in power and cooling costs alone. And once the majority of its computing had moved to VMware, the city’s IT department found additional savings with VMware-friendly Symantec applications.

Virtualization-Optimized Backup and Restore

With a cut-over to a virtualized environment, the city needed a backup and restore solution that would provide efficient data protection for its new virtual servers. Traditional backup solutions call for a two-step process, where virtual machine disk files are copied to a secondary location before they are copied via traditional disk backup software. This is less than efficient. “You have to go through the old way of server recovery where you first build a server, then load your programs back on it,” observes Parsram Rajaram, IT manager for Winter Park. Other solutions call for virtual-machine based backup software to perform data protection tasks, but these procedures slow the performance of virtual environments. For these reasons, Winter Park decided to deploy Veritas NetBackup for VMware, which takes advantage of VMware’s Consolidated Backup (VCB) technology to offload the backup process to a separate, proxy backup server. With backup (and recovery) running on a proxy server, there is no impact on production VMware servers, and Winter Park can grab full-image and single-file backups in one pass.

16X Faster Recovery, 50% Faster Backup

Using NetBackup for VMware, Rajaram estimates that recovery of virtual machines is 16 times faster than restoring traditional servers in his environment. “We didn’t want to spend half a day trying to restore a virtual machine when we could spend 15 minutes using a VMDK file from NetBackup,” he notes.
In addition, Rajaram says that the new system provides a more accurate full backup of data that is over 50% faster. “We could never back up all the servers in one pass. We did full backups of some and incrementals of the others—and the next week we’d flip it. A full backup took two weeks, and our backup success rate was maybe 50 percent. Now it takes 12 hours to get a full backup and our success rate is nearly 100 percent.”

Cutting Search Times

As a public entity, the City of Winter Park must honor a multitude of requests for public records. To streamline its search efforts, the city has used Enterprise Vault with its Microsoft Exchange servers, giving them a longer time-set of available email archives and a speedy method for retrieval of these older materials. “When we get an open records request, instead of having to hunt through everybody’s email box, we just hunt through a journal box,” Rajaram says. “It’s an advantage to us in that we still have copies of messages that people may have deleted accidentally—or deliberately.”
According to Rajaram, record searches that may have taken two or three days, now take two or three minutes. Similarly, city employees often need to recover accidentally deleted messages; in the past, retrieval may have taken 48 hours or more, but now the IT staff can recover the data in minutes.

Endpoint Stops Disruptions Cold

Using Symantec Endpoint Protection the city has also put a halt to virus infections and network disruptions. “For the last 10 years, we have not had a situation where our production environment had to be shut down because of a virus outbreak,” Rajaram says. “Symantec’s LiveUpdate feature has been very good at keeping our endpoints secure…we’ve had many instances where we caught viruses before they could attack the system.” Endpoint Protection also enables the IT staff at Winter Park to control and enforce data policies on the network, for example, limiting data that can be copied to or from removable media, adding an additional layer of data protection to the network.

Winter Park Bottom Line: Rest Easy

The city has also engaged Symantec Education Services and is contemplating adding Symantec Premium Antispam to its IT arsenal. But the bottom line for Winter Park is the peace of mind Symantec products have brought to the IT department. “Thanks to Symantec, our administration time in backup, records requests, and security have been reduced drastically,” he sums up. “It’s now easier to come home and sleep because we’re getting reliable backup.”
To read the entire Customer Success Story for Winter Park, Florida, click here.

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