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Fast recovery with minimum downtime.

Storage Expo : 02 October, 2007  (Technical Article)
Centralised server data protection using True Image Enterprise Server. was founded in Birmingham nearly four years ago, and installs computer networks for small and medium sized businesses across the Midlands including Virdi-Smith Opticians, Geldbach and Reliant Windows. The company quickly realised that it could provide a value-added service to its customers by including software on each server that it installed with the capacity to recover data in the event of a system malfunction, software corruption, virus attack or unexpected disaster.

William Spanfelner, one of the directors at HippoMachines, explains: "We selected Acronis True Image Enterprise Server after examining data backup and recovery software from a number of vendors including Symantec. Acronis True Image Enterprise Server was by far the most intuitive product we tested and it offered all the functionality that we needed to help our customers protect their networks. It enables them to recover their entire system including data, operating systems, databases, applications and bespoke system configurations quickly and effectively - without needing to have a dedicated IT team on-site or a great understanding of technology."

Nick Allen, one of Reliant Windows' directors, comments: "Before we knew about Acronis True Image Enterprise Server, our computer systems were unreliable, insecure and unrecoverable. HippoMachines surveyed our network, installed and configured True Image and provided training so that every user knows how to backup and recover files at the click of a mouse. Knowing that we can recovery our Customer and Service Databases as well as restore workstations to full working order within minutes makes all the hype regarding Internet threats seem insignificant."

By using Acronis True Image Enterprise Server, HippoMachines' customers are able to take a snapshot image of each server and, should the worst happen, reload that image to get their systems operational again within a few minutes - without necessarily needing access to storage resources or bootable media. Using the Acronis Snap Restoreâ„¢ function, they can even use their IT network while Acronis' software recovers the data and associated applications, keeping any downtime to an absolute minimum.

Stephen Thompson, Director at Geldbach, comments: "HippoMachines were recommended to us when we setup a new office in the West Midlands. We wanted a secure and reliable server-based network that would allow us to concentrate on running our business of importing industrial flanges.

HippoMachines created a top-class backup strategy to protect our data using Acronis True Image Enterprise Server. No one has to hang around the office at the end of the day waiting for the backup to complete due to the fact that the backup process starts automatically and completes within minutes. More importantly, we can rest in the knowledge that if we suffer the loss of the server, our down-time will be minimal since we have the Universal Restore component allowing us to recover to a totally new server if necessary."

In addition, HippoMachines' customers can configure the software so that it takes regular automated images. This means that they can quite literally forget about the software once it's installed. Spanfelner takes up the story: "If they do want extra assurance that their backups are being carried out, then Acronis True Image Enterprise Server can be configured to send an email, SMS or pop-up notification each time it takes a snapshot. The software can also ensure all backups are virus-free by automatically running anti-virus software before taking an image of the server so customers aren't inadvertently creating unusable backups."

This is extremely important for HippoMachines' customers as many of them do not have a dedicated IT department to implement regular backups and upload new anti-virus patches. Without Acronis True Image Enterprise Server in place, these customers would be extremely exposed to network downtime as a result of lost or corrupted data.

"On average, companies need upwards of 70 patches to protect their systems from viruses, and ensuring you have all the latest ones is a very time consuming task for an SMB," comments Spanfelner. "Even if the anti-virus software is kept current, it's not one hundred per cent certain that the patches you have will provide complete protection. Our clients use Acronis True Image Enterprise Server alongside anti-virus software to offer a second line of defense in the event that their software doesn't protect them - and to cover them if they forget to upload the newest patches. This means they are freed from the periods of doubt and uncertainty when a new worm, virus or other form of malware is identified and they can breathe easily knowing that one missing patch won't bring down the company."

Mrs Vidri-Smith, Partner at Vidri-Smith Opticians, takes up the story: "We recently upgraded our computers and asked HippoMachines to do the job because of their experience with Acronis. We had to be certain that our patient record database was protected and HippoMachines agreed to make the necessary backup files prior to making any system changes. They delivered our new network with everything required to commence work immediately. Thanks to Acronis True Image we were able to send our scheduled batch of Patient Reminder letters on time."

HippoMachines itself relies on Acronis True Image Enterprise Server and has first hand knowledge of how lost data can be recovered in a quick and simple manner. "Last year, we installed a new server in our headquarters," explains Spanfelner, "and the RAID feature failed on it within days of during the process moving all of our data across. Fortunately we had prepared for any unforeseen problems by using Acronis True Image Enterprise Server to make a copy of the all the information and applications that were housed on it before the changeover. This meant that we got everything back almost immediately."

Spanfelner continues: "Network downtime is unacceptable in most market sectors, but it's particularly frowned upon in ours. Our customers come to us for reliable and robust networks and we wouldn't set a good example or inspire much confidence in our capabilities if we couldn't place an order or complete an installation because our systems were down. I'm convinced that if we hadn't used Acronis True Image Server Enterprise Server software, we would have faced a much larger problem and could have lost many of our customers as a result."

As HippoMachines continues to grow, the company plans to expand its use of Acronis' backup and recovery software. Spanfelner concludes: "We already put Acronis True Image Enterprise Server software onto every server we install but we are planning to introduce future clients to Acronis True Image Workstation so that they can protect their PCs and laptops to the same standard. There's also a possibility that we might expand into managed services - in which case it will be even more important for us to have a reliable data backup and restore solution in place. Regardless of the direction our business takes, you can be sure that we will continue to use Acronis True Image because it is the only product we trust to provide reliable backup and recovery for our own needs and those of our clients."

Acronis is exhibiting at Storage Expo 2007 the UK's largest and most important event dedicated to data storage. Now in its 7th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme and over 100 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 17 - 18 October 2007.
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