For eight months, Tom Hines has been a man with a mission. As the CIO of Meyers Nave, a San Leandro, Calif.-based law firm, Hines has been responsible for developing and implementing the firm's disaster recovery plan. Recent events put that mission into sharper focus.
"We started this implementation before September 11, but the scope of that disaster confirmed with our board that what I had been saying about disaster recovery was true," said Hines. "A lot of companies affected by the attack are out of business or on the verge of going out because they didn't have a plan in place."
Developing Meyers Nave's business continuity and disaster recovery plans involved reevaluating every aspect of the firm's IT environment. Nothing escaped Hines' scrutiny, and very little escaped being replaced.
"The first thing I did coming in was to reevaluate the network, the hardware and how everything was being used," said Hines. "After we did that, we determined what had to be replaced immediately."
The first to go were the servers, all clones. Hines replaced them with nine Dell servers. The change fit Hines' master disaster recovery scheme: Austin, Texas-based Dell guaranteed a two-day replacement for all Meyers Nave's servers, if the need arose.
The next piece of the puzzle was the installation of iManage, a knowledge and document management system. The software from Foster City, Calif.-based iManage enables storage of the firm's "intellectual knowledge" into client- or matter-based files, Hines said. With this Web-based system, all e-mails, voice mails, videos and documents pertaining to a client can be input to a file and then easily accessed, via the Web, by anyone in the firm's three offices.
Lexmark 820 and 720 multifunctional devices became a vital part of Hines' new system, allowing documents to be scanned and input directly to the virtual files in iManage. Documents can also be faxed or e-mailed into iManage via the Lexmark devices, Hines said.
Once Hines completed this aspect of the redesign, he had to find a way to protect all that electronic data. He wasn't satisfied with firm's existing Quantum DLTtape backup system. He felt a tape backup did not offer enough flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Also, as data volume grew in the future, the cost of buying new tapes and tape drives would be too high, he said.
Hines sought a backup solution that would support iManage and Lexmark and offer the same flexibility. "Both of these products are accessible by Web and can be controlled from a Web portal, so I felt we needed a Web solution," he said.
Hines started his search with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun Microsystems. The Sun solution, however, was much too expensive for a firm of Meyers Nave's size. "I asked them who they would recommend, and they recommended EVault," said Hines.
Walnut Creek, Calif.-based EVault offers online backup, which fit perfectly into Meyers Nave's disaster recovery and business continuity scenario. The cost and productivity picture looked good, too. Hines ran the numbers and came up with a solid 191% return on investment. Having dealt with Veritas, Legato and other backup solutions in the past, he was impressed. "None of them come close, price-wise, to what EVault can do," he said.
In fact, Hines discovered that as the firm increases its storage capacity, the price of the EVault service goes down. "The more space you get, the lower your payment is," said Hines. "I can't think of anything else in the IT industry where the cost goes down the more you need it." Since the firm's storage needs have doubled from last year and should double again next year, this EVault feature was a strong selling point.
The EVault system offered productivity gains, too. Previously, the firm's DLTtape backup process took all night to run and required server downtime. "We went from a 10-hour workday and doing a full backup until six in the morning to running four-hour backups," said Hines. Plus, no server downtime is required. "We can do backups while people are still working," he said.
With an online backup solution, Meyers Nave's data is stored safely offsite but can be accessed and managed quickly from any computer with a Web connection at any time of the day or night.
Hines now has the peace of mind of knowing that if Meyers Nave's offices were leveled to the ground, he'd have all data restored and every system back up and running in two days. "That's pretty impressive," he asserts. "I couldn't have this two-day recovery model without EVault as part of the equation."
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