This article was first published in the Winter 2014 issue of OnWindows
AE&C Services in the US provides repair and overhaul services to aviation customers worldwide. The company is certified by the FAA and EASA as a Part 145 Repair Station in component repair and overhaul, specialising in electro-mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic-type aircraft components and accessories.
Like many fledgling small businesses, AE&C Services began with an IT infrastructure comprising little more than a few desktop computers and a Microsoft Access database for managing work orders, inventory and so forth. As business quickly grew, the company recognised the need for a more sophisticated infrastructure.
AE&C Services started out with a Dell PowerEdge SC420 server running Microsoft Office Small Business Edition. Over several years, the company added larger hard drives, more RAM and faster processors. Then, when the time was right, it upgraded to a Dell PowerEdge 1420 server for enterprise-level growth.
AE&C Services also upgraded its software to keep up with business requirements, building a SQL Server database and a comprehensive content management system (CMS), which has evolved over the years into a mission-critical solution for AE&C Services.
“The custom CMS software and the SQL database are absolutely critical to our business,” explains Jason Holland, system administrator and software developer at AE&C Services. “Everything is integrated in there, including inventory, work orders, purchase orders, sales, and shipping and receiving information. It’s now 5TB and it continues to grow every day.”
To provide back-up and recovery for that critical data, AE&C Services was using NovaStor’s NovaBackup. However, the solution required a great deal of manual intervention and failed to deliver either the recovery point objective (RPO) or the recovery time objective (RTO) that the company needed – especially since the building is in an industrial area that experiences frequent short power failures.
For more reliable, automated back-up and quick recovery, AE&C Services decided to implement AppAssure from Dell.
With AppAssure, AE&C Services is able to protect its mission-critical workloads and data with snapshots it can count on, as often as every five minutes. “We currently have AppAssure take snapshots every hour,” says Holland. “Therefore, we have been able to cut our recovery point objective from two days to just one hour, minimising data loss to a level we are comfortable with. And AppAssure is completely reliable; it does what it’s supposed to do. I no longer have to constantly be checking on backups and tweaking settings.”
With AppAssure, AE&C Services can recover quickly from a failure, so Holland knows he will never again have to spend a whole weekend painstakingly restoring the environment. “I’ve dealt with Novell back up, tape back ups and a variety of software back ups – often you have to go through several clicks and three or four tabs to find what you’re looking for,” explains Holland. “The AppAssure UI is very smooth. If some file needs to be recovered, you can just go in there and boom, you’re looking at it. Because I have added a battery back up to handle the blackouts we experience, I have not had to make a large-scale recovery, but I estimate it would take less than half a day with AppAssure, rather than the 48 hours or longer it used to take.”
AppAssure has enabled AE&C Services to reduce costs by 10%. In addition, Holland is saving an hour of work each day, giving him more time to focus on other projects critical to the business, such as the disaster recovery planning required for both business continuity and regulatory compliance.
“Because AppAssure is so reliable and easy to use, I save an average of an hour of work each day on backup and recovery,” says Holland. “With that time, I’ve been able to use AppAssure to implement a disaster recovery strategy and achieve compliance with FAA regulations. In particular, the FAA requires us to keep printed copies of the updated work orders and the manuals the technicians use. With the AppAssure backup repository offsite, if the main building were to go up in flames, I could quickly get another server and be back up within a couple of days. Because we could reprint all of the required documents, we are now in compliance with the regulations.”
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