Back it up Featured

9:01pm EDT October 31, 2011

It is — or at least it should be — a given that you are backing up your company’s critical data. However, as you may have already found out, conducting those backups can be a costly and time-consuming process.

Shawn McCullough of Ulmer & Berne LLP was looking for a better backup solution. Working alongside his partner, Black Box Network Services, he was able to find the solution with EMC Avamar.

According to EMC, Avamar was developed to solve the challenges associated with traditional backup. They state that EMC Avamar backup and recovery software, equipped with integrated global, client-side data deduplication technology, facilitates fast, daily full backups for VMware environments, remote offices, enterprise applications, LAN/NAS servers and desktops/laptops.

Smart Business spoke with McCullough about Avamar, how it has helped them and what it can do for your business.

What challenges were you experiencing that led you look for a next generation, backup solution?

For us, it was all about getting rid of tapes. Managing the tape library we had for backups was expensive and time-consuming. We were spending $5,000 to $10,000 every six months just to replace the tapes. Not only that, we don’t have a dedicated IT staff at all of our locations, so if anything went wrong at those locations, we’d have to spend the time and money to travel to those locations to address the problem. It just wasn’t feasible to do it that way anymore.

Besides protecting our data and cutting down on the cost of tapes, we wanted a backup solution that would protect our virtualization endeavors without putting a strain on the backup infrastructure. We also needed a solution that would allow us to utilize the backups from one central location. Another factor was the timing. As we all know, timing is critical. With multiple locations and data that’s constantly being moved around, we needed a consistent, reliable backup system. EMC Avamar addressed all those concerns and then some.

Another benefit that we didn’t even consider was deduplication. Why back something up if it’s already backed up and stored? This has reduced our backups and saved us a lot of time.

What were the factors that made the EMC Avamar solution the best choice?

This solution allows us to have a zero sum game — we can add more applications anytime we want without increasing space or bandwidth. It’s a very well rounded solution. Plus, it’s an instant solution. Before, if something went wrong, our backups were down for days. Now, there is no downtime. And, you can find exactly what you need almost instantaneously. Recovery is fast and amazing. A restore that used to take an upwards of 18 hours can now be done in under two. Also, there is no need for client licenses to backup and restore.

What cost savings and ROI were you able to realize by implementing EMC Avamar?

We really didn’t realize just how much we were spending to maintain and store our tape library. That cost saving alone has made it all worthwhile. When you factor in the time we’re saving as well, the ROI is very strong.

How did the EMC Avamar solution reduce the cycles your IT staff was spending to perform backup or recovery tasks?

This was the biggest benefit for us. Before we were spending five to eight hours a week managing and troubleshooting our backups. Needless to say, it was incredibly time consuming. Now, we maybe touch it a couple hours a month!

What guidance would you give to other companies with similar backup concerns and challenges?

EMC Avamar can be a costly solution, but it’s definitely worth the investment. Don’t just look at the price — look at how much this solution will help you. It has amazing features that will save you a lot of money in the long run, more than offsetting the initial cost.

Shawn McCullough of Ulmer & Berne LLP can be reached at

For more information on Black Box Network Services, visit their website at