Goodwill Deploys Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print
cloud-based disaster recovery

The nonprofit adopted a disaster recovery system that leverages public and private clouds and an internal data center to improve performance and lower costs.

By now, it's apparent that growing volumes of data are ratcheting up the risks and dangers surrounding disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC). However, translating the business and IT challenges into a viable strategy—and putting the technology to work effectively—can be a daunting task, particularly for smaller organizations with limited budgets.

Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana is among the organizations that have been forced to confront this issue over the last few years. The nonprofit, which operates within 29 counties spanning a 70-mile radius of Indianapolis, has about 15 terabytes of data residing on its internal systems. Last year, executives realized that traditional storage and backup technologies, which had initially cost upward of $250,000, weren't keeping up with modern demands.

"We had created a disaster recovery environment where we were doing a lot of replication between two sites," says Jeff Ton, CIO and senior vice president of corporate connectivity. "The challenge was keeping both sites synced and up to date. Every time we added a new server to production, we had to add a new server to the disaster recovery environment."

The task devoured hefty chunks of time and money, Ton says. What's more, "We would spend anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks per year overseeing a disaster recovery test. We had to dedicate an entire team to handling the task -- and that was time they couldn't spend on other important initiatives."

After examining a number of potential solutions and providers, Ton turned to a cloud-enabled disaster recovery service from Bluelock. Goodwill had already tapped the service provider to host several applications within a cloud-based virtual data center, so moving over DR seemed like a logical next step.

"It was a way to use our resources more effectively and focus on customer problems and the overall business," Ton explains. "Our existing relationship factored heavily into the decision."

The solution, which went live in April 2014, relies on a hybrid method, leveraging public cloud, private cloud and an internal data center. The Recovery-as-a-Service (RaaS) approach also required more intelligent network services, according to Ton. As a result, Goodwill turned to TW telecom and its Intelligent Network to deliver dynamic capacity that allows the organization to dial bandwidth up and down as needed.

Goodwill's data is now replicated from an internal storage area network (SAN) to Bluelock's data center. Ton says that with the current infrastructure in place, there is "hardly a blip on the pipe" as the replication process occurs.

Goodwill of Central Indiana is now saving about $25,000 annually. "We were able to switch from CapEx to OpEx and save money," Ton notes. More importantly, the organization now has a system in place that's fully suited to its business and IT requirements.

He says that the foray into the cloud has proved its potential. The agency plans to expand other functions into a hosted environment in the months ahead.

"The solution has provided both tangible and intangible results," Ton explains. "We are able to use business and IT resources far more efficiently."

This article was originally published on 2014-09-15

Samuel Greengard is a contribuitng writer for Baseline.

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