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Investment Firm Transforms Backup Environment Using EMC for Significant Leap in Cost Savings, Efficiency and Compliance


Sandell Asset Management Replaces Tape and Leverages EMC Avamar to Backup and Deduplicate Information in Physical and Virtual Environments.

HOPKINTON, Mass.- EMC Corporation (NYSE: EMC), the world leader in information infrastructure solutions, announced that Sandell Asset Management Company—a leading private investment management company—has strengthened its entire backup infrastructure to accommodate new and future business requirements by leveraging EMC Avamar backup and deduplication software. With the help of EMC, the company has vastly improved its backup operations and strengthened its approach to data retention and compliance.

Like many financial services companies, Sandell is subject to stringent federal regulations regarding data retention, backup and recovery. To ensure compliance, Sandell had relied for many years on an off-site tape backup and recovery service, with a separate application running on office desktops for local recovery.

As the volume of data grew to more than 1.3 terabytes across its three offices (in New York, London and Hong Kong), the tape-based backup system was costing Sandell more than $250,000 per year, and was becoming too slow and costly to meet the company’s needs. The full and incremental backup processes had become cumbersome and time-consuming, requiring a complete backup of all data whether or not it had changed since the last backup. Compliance managers and other employees needing to recover a specific data file would be subject to a long wait while IT staff manually searched through the tape backup. Plus, the need to know and maintain two separate backup systems had placed an additional burden on Sandell’s IT staff.

John Modica, Sandell’s Chief Technology Officer, said, “With such a large volume of data, the recovery times involved in these manual processes were just not acceptable. The backup system — and the costs — had grown exponentially with our data. We rely on quick, easy access to data. If someone is missing a file, the longer it takes to get the information, the worse we look and the greater the potential risk for our firm to lose money and potentially find ourselves out of compliance.”

In addition, since much of Sandell’s data infrastructure consists of SQL Server databases running on VMware ESX virtual servers, the company needed a solution that would support backup of a virtualized environment.

To meet these challenges, Sandell chose EMC Avamar for backup and deduplication of its physical and virtual environments, helping reduce the size of backup data at the source (in Sandell’s case, the client desktops in the three offices). Daily backup data has been dramatically reduced before it is transferred across the network and stored to disk.

“Comparing a number of different backup solutions, EMC Avamar came out on top – and it offered clear benefits through its data deduplication and overall cost savings,” said Modica. “Overall, the Avamar product is fantastic and is the best in the market from what we’ve seen. Compared to our existing system, the Avamar solution offered a 20-month return on investment. In addition, we’re very impressed with Avamar’s scalability, which enables the system to be easily expanded as the volume of data grows simply by adding additional servers. EMC and its Avamar solution are helping companies revolutionize the way they approach data backup and recovery into the foreseeable future.”

The new Avamar implementation provides data backup, replication, and restoration for the data environments in the New York and London offices, which consist of VMware ESX servers running Microsoft Exchange SQL Server. Now, Sandell has been able to bring all of its data backup and recovery processes in house, with one data grid to back up the New York office, and another to back up VMware data at the London and Hong Kong sites. Seamless replication is also provided to remote users in Hong Kong across Sandell’s wide area network and all data is replicated to an offsite data center, which satisfies the firm’s compliance requirement to provide redundant backup in two locations. EMC Celerra® unified storage and EMC Centera® content addressed storage systems complete the storage area network and provide redundant replication between New York and London.

With Avamar’s data deduplication technology, Sandell is now doing nightly full data backups in a fraction of the time once required by the previous system.

“With the old service, it would take about 23 hours to do a full backup with 600 gigabytes of data — but now that we’re only backing up new and changed data, it takes about three hours,” said Modica. “For instance, PST files used to be a big problem for us, because our Microsoft Exchange users were storing their emails in personal PST folders that could grow very large — and the old system was backing up the entire PST file every night. Now, the system only replicates the new emails that have been added since the last backup.”

With the new system, Sandell has been able to remain in compliance with its own one-year retention policy for business-critical data and documents. “With Avamar, you just set the retention period and go on with your day. There is no need to worry about recycling and re-labeling tapes or trying to figure out which tapes can be overwritten. You also have the assurance that, if a user accidentally deletes a file, he or she will be able to recover it quickly and easily as long as it’s less than a year old,” said Modica. “We even have the capability of doing file searches and locating documents quickly even when the user doesn’t know where a file was moved, or when. That is a huge advantage over the previous system.”


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