I just recently published a Customer Success Story for the County of Montcalm that highlighted the resourcefulness of their IT manager. Eric McLaughlin is the IT Director and the only member of the county’s IT department. He is required to protect over 30 servers for county departments as varied as the building department, Commission on Aging, controller-administrator, courts, drain commissioner, emergency services, equalization, maintenance, Michigan State University Extension, prosecutor, register of deeds, sheriff, treasurer and more. The county was previously using a tape backup system but the maximum capacity had long been exceeded and they were losing data regularly.
McLaughlin followed the strong recommendation of their technology partner MNJ Technologies and purchased a Unitrends Recovery Series 933S hardware appliance. In addition to 37TB of physical capacity the appliance has the ability to host applications as an emergency backup to failed servers. This feature provides instant local failover to protect against server disk failures, electrical issues and human error using backup copies of the data.
McLaughlin really took advantage of this capability. In his own words – “Just after installation of the Unitrends appliance we had a critical hardware failure and lost a full server. This happened three months before the new budget year. I was able to spin up a backup on the appliance and only lost about two hours of work. We kept the application running on the appliance and were able to get that through until the next budget, setup a VM on a new Hyper-V Manager, and migrate the data from the appliance to the new home and no users were the wiser.”
While running a production application on the backup appliance for an extended period is not considered a best practice, Montcalm County shows that it can be done. The appliance has enough capacity and power to run the production apps and continue to perform backups and data replications to protect the remaining systems. When you are an army of one and have very limited budget alternatives it is nice to know that your backup solution can perform double duty in an emergency. Kudos to McLaughlin – a backup hero.