Backup & Restore System Enhances Email Management

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2016-05-12 Email Print this article Print
Backup and Restore System

Millar, a medical device manufacturer, turns to a cloud-based system to manage email more effectively and to improve backups, restores and disaster recovery.

As data volumes grow, organizations face enormous challenges in putting data into play and ensuring that it's secure and backed up. For a medical device manufacturer such as Millar—which produces pressure catheters, pressure-volume loop systems, telemetry devices and other products—the challenges are critical.

"We have extraordinarily long periods for data retention as a result of regulations and business requirements," says Todd Miller, director of IT. "In some cases, we have to retain documents and data for roughly 25 years."

In October 2013, the 45-year-old company moved from an open-source email platform to Microsoft Office 365 to manage email. While providing effective cloud-syncing capabilities, the environment didn't provide backups.

"We realized that we were facing potential problems and needed a system that could take us beyond basic replication," Miller explains. "We did not want to run into a situation where we needed to find and restore an email message and were not able to find it—or had to spend a lot of time handling the task."

Backing Up and Restoring Mailboxes

In response to this issue, Millar turned to Spanning Backup by EMC, which backs up Office 365 email, calendars and OneDrive for Business data automatically every day. After testing the solution for about eight months starting in 2014, the company went live with the new platform in June 2015.

The system gives the company a number of key benefits, including the ability to back up mailboxes that are 20 gigabytes or larger. It also offers features that make it easy for users to quickly and easily restore mailboxes to their full original state, including metadata. In addition, it provides powerful search and find capabilities that lets employees pinpoint and grab the information they need.

Since switching on the Spanning solution, Millar has faced about a dozen situations that required a restore from backup, according to Miller. "We haven't had a single incidence where we could not find something we needed," he adds.

The cloud-based system integrates with the Office 365 administrative portal. A user simply clicks on an app icon, and the system authenticates him or her and then launches the Spanning app. In addition, administrators can view a visual representation of backups for various users.

"We can see instantly whether everything is functioning correctly or there's a problem we need to address through a manual backup," Miller reports.

The system also simplified license management and provides a full audit trail that makes Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance easier. Auditing is a critical issue because organizations operating within the medical space must adhere to strict data protection and accessibility requirements in order to remain compliant.

The biggest challenge Millar faced was pushback from a group of users. "There were some security concerns about whether it was wise to store email in the cloud," Miller explains.

However, after conducting some research, it became apparent to everyone that the system provided a high level of security. In fact, the firm can now fully control access to mailboxes, including when and where they're accessible. "It's possible to give someone partial access to a mailbox or change permissions as needed," he says.

Moreover, the system has full backups on hand at all times. Last year, when Millar was hit with CryptoLocker ransomware, for example, it was able to recover 250,000 encrypted files. "We lost only a single file due to the 20-minute gap in the backup window," Miller reports.

Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).

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