ATV dealer flattens data backup issues in Symantec Protection Network test drive

The thinly stretched IT staff of a Fort Worth, Texas-based dealer of all off-road bikes and all terrain vehicles (ATVs) managed to reduce backup downtime and improve staff efficiency during a beta test of a recently released online data storage system from Symantec Corp.

Technicians at the Tucker Rocky Distributing said the Symantec Protection Network (SPN) suite of Web-based products will drastically streamline their backup and recovery procedures.

The company, which has stores across the U.S., will be switching from a taped-based storage system to SPN’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) product this month.

“Software-as-a-service definitely works for us. It’s a much cheaper and easier method of backing up and protecting data,” said Blou Baker, network administrator for Tucker Rocky.

She said SaaS effectively cut the downtime associated with maintaining backup tapes and reduced the need for technicians to be on location when maintaining the system. “Now there’s no need to load an unload tapes during backup and the system can be run online from any location.”

The SPN debuted in February with the launch of two SaaS offerings: Online Backup; and Online Storage for Backup Exec.

Online Backup is a Web-based application that manages information stored at off-site Symantec data centres.

Online Storage for Backup Exec is a hybrid product that also works off-site but relies on Backup Exec (Symantec’s popular on-premise storage software) for management.

The Web-based products are ideal for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited IT resources, according to Chris Schin, director of product management for Symantec.

SMBs are turning to SaaS in a big way because of the advantages it offers and vendors that can take advantage of this stand to profit, he added.

“The online nature of the product eliminates the need for up-front investment in hardware or software,” he said.

For instance, he said, after resellers or installers have conducted the initial site assessment, policy configuration and integration, “in-house operators can pretty much takeover because the system is so easy to manage.”

The online data storage market is growing fast as SMBs increasingly rely on data and face more regulatory requirements to collect and store information according to analyst firm IDC.

Smaller operations are looking at alternative ways to protect and backup data since traditional systems are inadequate or too expensive, according to Dough Chandler, research director for storage service at IDC.

“Online backup has become more attractive with the advent of cheaper broadband access, greater user comfort level with Web-based services and the need for a remote data storage site,” he said.

The complexity of Tucker Rocky’s backup system was taking its toll on the small IT team of the off-road vehicle distributor.

Baker said her time was often eaten up by the maintenance and management demands of data tapes which had to be loaded and racked manually during backup sessions.

The need to have these tapes trucked to a third party off-site storage was also expensive and not very secure. “We had no control over those tapes on the road between our headquarters and the storage site,” said the network administrator.

When the company tested SPN, Baker realized that backups can be accomplished in real time, in just a matter of seconds, with the touch of a button.

The data is encrypted and transmitted online to an off-site Symantec backup facility.

The Web-based system also enabled her to accomplish this and other maintenance tasks from any computer hooked-up to the Internet.

This feature is ideal from Tucker Rocky’s small IT team that often have to visit the company’s other locations. “Technicians are no longer tied to a single console they can access the system from any machine.”

Other company personnel can also have immediate access to data and would not have to wait for stored tapes to come back from the physical storage site.

Baker also said SPN provided her team with accurate reports regarding the data backup process and warned them if there were any system issues.

Tucker Rocky will roll out SPN gradually onto its five servers starting this month.

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