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Learning the Importance of Data Protection

November 10, 2009


After paying the price for failing to protect its data, this picturesque California city has achieved peace of mind with Symantec Backup Exec.
Big Bear Lake, California, may be renowned for its rugged beauty, but for years the city’s IT systems left much to be desired.
Situated on Southern California’s largest recreation lake, the City of Big Bear Lake relied on one part-time employee to manage IT services for 6,000 residents. Not surprisingly, processes were outdated. Non-standard practices were standard. Critical servers were routinely rebooted in the middle of the day, knocking out the email server. The city’s network was available only 50% of the time.
Enter Ken Watts, who is now manager of the city’s information systems. Hired three and a half years ago to deliver the high-quality IT services the city needed, Watts learned in no time that the city was putting important data at risk.
It turned out the part-time IT administrator performed backups weekly, but only of one file server. The city’s Microsoft Exchange server and various production servers were never backed up. Those few backups were completed on site.
“The city had one tape, and he just left that tape in the drive all the time,” Watts recalls.

A costly lesson

Watts was on the job less than a month when a disk drive failure jeopardized years’ worth files that city employees had scanned into a document imaging system. A specialty data recovery company was able to salvage the images, but the service cost $25,000.
“That experience taught everyone in the government that we need stability in our IT systems,” Watts says.
At about the same time, a series of wildfires near Big Bear Lake highlighted the importance of moving data backups off-site. As Watts recalls, the time had come to convince the city to invest in a more reliable technology infrastructure.
With the help of Colorado-based Advanced Internet Security Inc., a Symantec Gold Partner, Watts set about centralizing the city’s servers into a data center that runs only high-quality hardware and software. A key component of the AIS solution has been the implementation of Symantec Backup Exec, with agents for Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft SQL Server.

Surefire backup and recovery

Today Watts protects the data on all 18 of the city’s servers with nightly incremental backups and once-a-week full backups. That amounts to a 126-fold increase in the scope of the city’s data protection. Incremental backups are stored on a local server, which makes restores very fast for data that has changed within the previous week. Full backups are saved to tape, which Watts sends off-site for storage.
Should a disaster occur now, Big Bear Lake would lose little data from any of its servers.
“Our data recovery has been 100% successful,” Watts says. In fact, the city has lost zero data in three years. And it has significantly reduced the risk of repeating the system failure that required the $25,000 data recovery service.
Watts, the city’s only IT employee, is quick to credit AIS for its support of Backup Exec. When he needs help with the software, AIS is a phone call away. “And they take care of it,” he says.
Looking ahead, Watts hopes eventually to implement Symantec Enterprise Vault to archive the city’s emails and other documents. He worries that the city could be exposed to litigation should it be unable to produce old files that have been deleted. Enterprise Vault could also save the city from buying a new Exchange server, a savings of $12,000 to $15,000, Watts says.
Summing up what Symantec and AIS have done to protect the City of Big Bear Lake’s data, Watts doesn’t mince words:
“I don’t think there’s another backup solution that would do a better job for us,” he says. “For what we need, Symantec Backup Exec is the perfect fit.”

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