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IPR International Improves Data Security and Availability

Nexsan’s Assureon online archive gives IPR the reliability and compliance-level privacy

Nexsan's Assureon online archive gives IPR the reliability and compliance-level privacy it needs to deliver high data availability to its customers while reducing overall costs by 40%

Leading disaster recovery and data protection service provider IPR International was facing growing operational and capital costs associated with its data archive infrastructure for customer emails and unstructured files. Needing to lower overall costs without risking the high service-level they guarantee their demanding customer base, IPR turned to Nexsan. Nexsan's Assureon online archive has given IPR the reliability and compliance-level privacy it needed to deliver high data availability to its customers while reducing overall costs by 40%.

Headquartered in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, and serving clients in 17 countries, IPR International was founded on a simple concept: that technology will change at such a rapid pace that most mid-size organizations will not be able to keep up with it. Thus, the company has dedicated itself to providing state-of-the-art data protection technologies, so clients can focus on their core business operations knowing their electronic data is safe and accessible at all times.

A recognized leader in managed data center and data protection services, IPR International offers a comprehensive suite of solutions to protect, preserve, secure and make available clients' data at all times. By offering constantly improving and evolving services combined with a passion for security, integrity, availability and ingenuity, IPR helps its clients maintain their own business operations and supports them through any interruptions.

For IPR, the service levels offered to their customers are critical. While governments and corporations alike require that data be kept for extended periods of time, and in a retrievable form, inactive data can have a negative impact on the performance of the production environment. To help solve these challenges, IPR needed a robust archiving solution that would satisfy operational, performance and compliance requirements for its clients.

"Our customers need to reduce the capital and operational costs of managing and archiving data," said Kevin Sullivan, head of services, development and marketing, IPR International. "Additionally, our customers need to improve their compliance posture by using a service where they can reallocate their IT resources for other, more strategically important objectives. We created our DataGuardian® service to meet these increasing customer demands."

With customers ranging from mid-sized law firms and insurance companies to healthcare organizations, IPR takes its DataGuardian service levels very seriously. These types of organizations require constant access to their email and unstructured file data while being prepared to recover from any disaster, from simple server outages to extensive unexpected natural events. To meet backend storage needs, IPR was using a combination of NetApp and EMC SANs. However, the infrastructure was becoming increasingly costly and difficult to manage as the volume of customer data increased. To maintain very high service levels for their customers without incurring extensive costs, IPR needed to identify an alternative archiving solution upon which to base its DataGuardian service.

Solution: A Comprehensive Archiving and Failover Strategy Based on Nexsan's Assureon and SATABeast Systems

After evaluating the high cost of expanding its existing infrastructure, IPR began to look for a highly reliable, lower cost alternative. During their search, IPR evaluated a number of solutions, including those from Nexsan and EMC. IPR selected Nexsan's Assureon archiving platform over Centera because of the flexibility in configuring redundancy. With Centera, two copies are required at both the local and disaster recovery site in order to ensure redundancy.

Replicating to another Centera would mean having four copies of archived data (two at each site) instead of one per site. While Assureon can be configured similarly, it also allows administrators to configure the systems so that only a single copy is stored on each Assureon while ensuring the highest levels of data protection. IPR still maintains two copies of the data, but they are at two locations in order to provide DR protection. IPR deployed two Assureon appliances, each with two SATABeast systems, connected via 4 Gb/s Fibre Channel. Each Assureon / SATABeast combination is installed at separate IPR locations and set to failover to the other in case of any failure. With Assureon, IPR has doubled its usable capacity over Centera while spending less on purchase costs and operating expenses. Nexsan's Assureon storage appliances provide IPR with a safe, cost-effective means to archive the growing volumes of customer email. The appliances keep email online and rapidly retrievable so that customers always have access to them. At the same time, the Assureon appliances dramatically reduce the time required to back-up current, active email by offloading archived email into a separate repository. "We were very impressed with the reliability and flexibility of the Nexsan solution," said Sullivan. "Assureon is delivered as an appliance, with the storage, and Nexsan remotely connects, monitors and performs automatic updates on the systems without our staff involvement, which makes these systems exceptionally easy to administer."

Results: High Performance and Reliability Means Strong Customer Satisfaction

The Nexsan Assureon solution has reduced IPR's overall capital and operating expenses by 40% compared to expanding their previous solution. Cost savings have come from replacing NetApp Filers and EMC Celerra NAS systems (traditional iSCSI and CIFS storage) with the Assureon CAS storage archive. With Assureon, Nexsan has delivered the most efficient and scalable approach to storing unstructured data (email and documents).

In addition, the Nexsan-based storage infrastructure ensures that IPR can deliver high service-level guarantees to its customers while knowing that it has the scalability to easily grow its storage capacity to meet future customer needs. Benefits IPR has received from its Nexsan-based archiving infrastructure include:

• Compliance-level privacy - Assureon uses innovative security features to ensure data privacy. The software establishes an unalterable audit trail for the life of data in the archive; every time archive content is accessed, a record is kept of who accessed it and when.

• High-availability storage - Supporting the innovative Assureon appliance is Nexsan's highly reliable SATABeast green storage, which provides redundant controllers, power supplies and fans along with support for RAID 6 to overcome double drive failures.

• Automated retention and deletion - Assureon offers automated integrity management and file immutability technology that protect against accidental or unauthorized file deletion. This ensures that files can be retained for regulation compliance or flexible time periods, and be deleted when their retention period is over.

• Self-auditing and self-healing - Assureon continually monitors files for fingerprint discrepancies, protecting them against tampering, viruses and corruption as well as accidental or deliberate deletion or theft. If discrepancies are discovered, Assureon notifies the system administrator and self-heals the file.

"Nexsan has greatly reduced the IT resources required to deliver recovery services thereby improving overall cost-efficiency for clients," said Sullivan. "We are happy to have selected Assureon as our archiving platform and very content with what the solution has allowed us to do."

About IPR

IPR was founded as one of the first Managed Electronic Data Protection Service Providers in the United States and is one of the very few companies to have developed and deployed a complete set of services to protect its clients' data. Currently, IPR protects data for over 240 clients in 17 countries around the globe, providing protection for over 2.5 petabytes of data in our Data Centers. With the opening of the IPR Reading Business Continuity Center in 2008 and the Wilmington Data Center in 2010, IPR has expanded its Managed Data Center and Infrastructure Services to include production and dedicated recovery computing environments for our clients. IPR enjoys a 97% client retention rate, as well as 40% annual growth per year. IPR has been named one of "Fastest Growing Companies" in the Philadelphia Region ("Philadelphia 100") in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009 and Inc. Magazine ranked IPR as number 593 on its first-ever" Inc. 5000" list of the Fastest-Growing Private Companies in 2007.

More Stories By Derek Harris

Derek Harris Sr. is a senior technology writer and blogger with more than 20 years experience in journalism.

While covering a broad spectrum of technology segments, his focus is weighted on enterprise technologies in the data storage, security and infrastructure spaces.

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