Superior Protection With a 1 Year Payback

Reporting is a night and day difference both in readability and delivery. Unitrends Support continues to be awesome. Richard Foster
General Manager, Unitrends Customer since 2018

Unitrends Solution for Agrex, Inc.

Protected Environment
  • Virtualized Windows servers
  • Physical servers
  • Improved backup and recovery
  • Easier, automated management
  • Cloud Disaster Recovery -as-a-Service
  • Full payback in one year

The Challenge

In early 2018, Agrex moved its data center to a larger location and didn’t want to migrate their Tivoli tape backup system, which they found to be inefficient and manually intensive. The company’s General Manager Richard Foster noted the financial scope of the challenge. “Our options were to either get off of tape [backup], or to upgrade the tape.” Including the estimated cost of professional services and IT admin hours, “that’s a capital outlay of at least $50k, probably more like $70k,” Foster says.

Given this scope and budget expenditure, Foster found the Unitrends all-in-one backup appliances especially promising. Otherwise, to stay with and upgrade their existing enterprise tape system, Foster notes that “this would mean replacing 207 LTO-4 tapes with the equivalent, new Fiber Channel LTO drives, a new library, a new server with all the HBA trimmings, AND a replacement for the old IBM storage array.”

Foster adds, “This investment would also mean that we remain mired in the tape cycle for at least another 5 years. It is always a challenge to manage tapes.”

“Our month-to-month professional services for the care and feeding of the tape system was about $2,000.”

Agrex was also looking for a new cloud backup and Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) solution, preferably one better integrated with backup. Their existing solution from SunGard was constantly increasing in price, and the process of making system changes was difficult with little support from the vendor.

Overall, Foster noted that the company’s recovery point objectives (RPOs) were not being met. “When inclement weather struck, [or] there was a holiday, [or] the administrator who does the tapes is on vacation (and I forget), our DR strategy immediately took an RPO hit. In the event of a disaster, our immediate needs would have included the procurement and installation of a server/tape drive/tape library system capable of reading all the data we had so diligently been backing up. [But] this was not something we had on hand.”

For the tape and cloud DRaaS services, Agrex was paying over $130K per year. Yet they were unable to fully test their recovery program. Additionally, they no longer wanted to have to manage tape systems with the physical moving and tracking of the media. Agrex sought a more modern approach to backup and continuity — to consolidate their data protection and DR coverage under a single, less expensive provider.

Agrex, Inc.
Agrex, Inc. is a full-service agricultural products trading company with its headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. Started in the 1970s as a grain exporter and operator of grain facilities in Nebraska, Agrex is now owned by Mitsubishi Corporation and has locations in multiple mid-western and western states. The company trades in grain, grain by products, and hay and supports a worldwide customer base. Richard Foster began working at Agrex as a senior network engineer and is now the company’s general manager.

Follow Up

Taking into account their client’s need for low total cost of ownership (TCO) and seamless integration between backup and DR, Unitrends reseller ConvergeOne introduced Agrex to Unitrends all-in-one backup appliances paired with the Unitrends Cloud. The teams began technical review and product demonstrations, then quickly settled on the following portfolio:

  • Unitrends Recovery Series physical appliance, sized at 1U with 10TB of data backup
  • 7TB of Unitrends Forever Cloud capacity with 90 days of retention for off-site storage
  • 15 VMs of Unitrends’ Elite DRaaS services with a 24-hour recovery SLA

The Unitrends DRaaS option allows Agrex to quickly spin up 15 VMs in the Unitrends Cloud in the event the main data center is unable to function. This service includes a service level agreement (SLA), which is a contractual guarantee that Unitrends will have the designated applications up and running within 24 hours. The Elite DRaaS service includes free monthly testing so Agrex will never have to wonder if their applications will successfully recover in the cloud.

Agrex chose the new Unitrends solution in just 3 weeks. The total cost of the solution was about $100K, so Agrex immediately reduced their backup and disaster recovery budget by $30K. The company had been paying $130K per year for their previous set of products. The Unitrends backup solution delivered very quick payback and superior performance.

Foster reports, “Our environmental footprint went from:

    • 4U Rack Mount for Spectrum (formerly Tivoli) reporting server
    • Blade Center S (1 active blade) for TSM 6 server
    • IBM DS3524 storage array for disk pools/deduplication
    • Dell TL4000 (rebadged IBM) tape library + 2 FC LTO-4 drives
    • Landfill trash for tapes as they wear out
    • Iron Mountain fossil fuels + emissions, 2-way trip, every business day

To: One (1) 1U Unitrends backup appliance.”

“Reporting is a night and day difference both in readability and delivery,” Foster adds. “Unitrends Support continues to be awesome post-install/post-handoff to the operations team. Case in point, we had an instance where we were showing a failed backup and Unitrends Support let us know that our backup was fine, the report was wrong and they corrected it. The cloud express seed option was fantastic as well. I was able to set it up myself and have it ready to rock in maybe 30 minutes.”

“With Unitrends, the DRaaS data just keeps on trucking, no matter [what].”

“After demoing the solution from Unitrends, Foster was so happy that he declared that he owed me a bottle of my favorite liquor for bringing Unitrends to them,” says Josh Flyntz, a data center design architect for ConvergeOne. “I’ve had happy customers before but Foster was extremely excited after seeing what Unitrends could do in a single, easy-to-manage solution. The fact the Unitrends engineers had answers for every question they asked also helped.”

Agrex has continued to renew their Unitrends subscriptions since 2018, and in 2023 they added another IT Complete product from Kaseya — IT Glue, a truly powerful IT documentation software.