Case Study: A Local Government Success Story

Town of Mount Pleasant, SC, Achieves Effortless Nutanix AHV Protection and FOIA Compliance With Unitrends Cloud-Enabled BCDR

Having cloud backups in addition to the onsite appliance is a huge help. We like having that quick restore ability locally, but having data replicated offsite as well, the assurance that we have with Unitrends is that no matter what the situation, we feel that we will always be able to get to our data. Jay Waller
Information Technology Manager

Unitrends Solution for Town of Mount Pleasant

Protected Environment
  • 40+ TB
  • Physical Linux Servers
  • Virtualized servers (Nutanix Acropolis)
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) mapping
  • Hypervisor-level backup and disaster recovery for Nutanix AHV environment
  • Improved backup and recovery times (file, VM, application)
  • Automated RTO & RPO testing and reporting
  • Long-term data retention with granular recovery
  • Ease of use
  • Holistic support
  • Regulatory compliance (FOIA)

The Challenge

Serving as the town’s Information Technology Manager for many years, Waller has always placed an emphasis on keeping up with the current IT landscape. “Technology’s always been such a highly changing area,” Waller explained. “There’s always things to learn, things you need to be up to date on and proactive about.” When the time came to evaluate how the town’s backup solution at the time stacked up to the market, Waller saw an opportunity for more robust protection and recovery capabilities. Prior to using Unitrends, the town relied on a Barracuda backup system for their needs. While the system was working “OK”, a recent investment in Nutanix (and migration to their native AHV hypervisor) compelled Waller to look for a solution that could accommodate native hypervisor backups for Nutanix while providing support to systems that could not be virtualized and improving recovery time objectives (RTOs) across the board. Previously, their system performed backups “strictly at the file level” and the town struggled with slows restores with moving backups off the system and into production.

The need for native support for AHV, coupled with limited offsite capabilities of their current solution, led Waller and his team to re-evaluate their approach.

“Everything we support, we backup,” says Waller. “Physical servers, and we have a lot of VM’s that we’re backing up too. We use the Nutanix hypervisor system, and Unitrends works hand-in-glove with Nutanix. That was a huge factor in us choosing Unitrends.”

Beyond protection of their heterogenous environment, including agentless protection for Nutanix AHV, Waller and his team were looking for a solution that would be able meet more aggressive SLAs, was easy to use for his small staff and offered predictable, cost-effective, long-term data retention, recovery and compliance for data preserved under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“Having our backups local here, that was a concern for us,” Waller explains. “The data was backed up, but it was still onsite. We live in a hurricane zone and being so close to the coast, we’re also in an earthquake zone. That’s always in the back of our minds. Should anything happen to this location, we could lose our backups.”

After a thorough search and evaluation, the town opted to deploy a Unitrends Recovery Series appliance coupled with Unitrends Forever Cloud for secure, offsite, long-term retention.

“Having a system like Unitrends, we can go back many years and pull files out of the cloud. That’s been a big help to us. Given where we’re located, we don’t know what’s going to happen with regards to accessibility to things locally. You never know if you’re not going to be able to get into the building or if there’s no power. Those offsite copies are there for us if and when we need them.”


Town of Mount Pleasant
Nestled just east of Charleston Harbor and Wando River, the town of Mount Pleasant, SC, is steeped in rich colonial history dating back more than 300 years to when the first English settlers arrived in 1680. Today, the town of Mount Pleasant is home to a population of more than 91,000, making it the fourth-largest municipality and the largest town in South Carolina. Jay Waller, Information Technology Manager, leads a team of six IT professionals who support all information technology functions from networking, application support, endpoint management, desktop support, cybersecurity, data backup and disaster recovery and more for over 600 employees and thousands of residents throughout the township.

Follow Up

From the jump, the time-to-value Waller and his team had been looking for was immediately apparent. “After we had it installed, we were up and running,” recalls Waller. “Unitrends has been easy to use, easy to adopt. For our network administrator, it wasn’t like he had to sit down and painfully go through manuals and screens to figure out what to do with how intuitive it is.”

“We can make better use of our time now,” Waller explains. “It’s easier to search for things. Where in the past it would take hours to get things restored back onto drives, now it’s much quicker. We’re not having to worry about how long it’s taking and there’s never been any issues restoring anything from Unitrends.”

Being able to search for and recover data from the Unitrends Cloud to their local appliance and restore into production as needed has helped the team more effectively process requests from citizens as relates to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

“We deal with a lot of FOIA requests,” says Waller. “We’re constantly getting requests for those forms. Having a system where we can go back and get files that have been backed up, even if they’ve been deleted off servers here, that’s a big help to us.”

Beyond FOIA requests and retrievals, Waller and his team use Unitrends to assist other departments and keep various town operations running smoothly. The indexing of backups has improved their search capabilities and time-to-recovery.

“Our Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Group does a lot of testing,” says Waller. “They have maps and other things saved on their servers. They had been working on one of those projects for quite a while and one morning they lost the drive. We pulled the data off Unitrends and were able to get everything restored within half a day. That project would’ve taken them at least a week if they had to go back in and rebuild it from scratch. We were able to restore that particular mapping project by that same afternoon.”

Beyond the accessibility and ease of recovery of their local and cloud data, pairing their local appliance with purpose-built cloud storage has instilled Waller and his team with new levels of confidence. With the region’s propensity for extreme weather, Waller was determined to ensure that, should anything happen to their local environment, their solutions provider would be able to reverse seed data quickly back to the local environment.

“Having that offsite backup, that redundancy built in, that’s huge for me,” explains Waller. “We know if our appliance goes down, Unitrends will ship us another one prepopulated with our data from the cloud. We won’t have to spend days transferring that back down. If for some reason we can’t get back to this location, we can have the replacement sent to where we’re at and spin up the data center. That’s the anchor. We’re extremely happy with the product and the services we’ve received.”

Although not often, whenever the team has needed a little extra assistance, they’ve leaned on Unitrends’ 24/7/365 U.S.-based customer support.

“When we’ve had to contact Unitrends for support, they’ve always been very responsive,” recalls Waller. “They responded quickly, and we were able to get to a resolution within hours. Unitrends actively worked with us to tackle our issue instantly. The support has been really good.”

“We know it works,” Waller continues.

“It’s been very reliable. As far as everything goes, the reliability of Unitrends, the technology there, from the hardware to the ease of use with your interface, it’s all been a great package. We’ve had a lot of success with it. We do tests, we know the data’s there and it’s not something we’re worried about. We don’t have a fear of failure. Unitrends is one thing we have a lot of faith and confidence in. It’s a wonderful product.”