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AM Lithography Case Study

Leading Print and Packaging Supplier Relies on Quantum Libraries for Protection and Archiving AM Lithography has grown into a major national printing enterprise during an era that has seen a transformation in typography and press services. When the company was founded more than 35 years ago, Macs and Windows PCs were all still off in the future, and there are entire business segments— like third-party typesetting—that have essentially disappeared during its lifetime. But the company, headquartered in Chicopee, Massachusetts, has changed, adopted new technology, and become a trusted, full-service print, packaging, and mail service provider to some of the world’s premier brands. “The printing industry today looks nothing like it did in 1983 when we were founded,” explains Fred Gamber, AM Lithography’s Director of Pre-press Services, “but AM Lithography has maintained the same mission through all the changes: give clients a one-stop shop to get all their printing needs fulfilled with the highest quality, fair prices, and great service.”

USING NEW TECHNOLOGY TO EVOLVE THE BUSINESS

In the last two decades, a major part of the company’s success has been linked to how well it has adopted digital technology and used it to support its customer base. “We were early adopters of computerized type-setting, prepress, and mail service technology, and we have long recognized that IT services are a critical part of contemporary printing,” Gamber adds. “Today, what we get from customers are digital files with their original content, which we manage, process, and use to create finished material. Protecting that content, both for the short and the long term, is extremely important to us.” AM Lithography’s IT infrastructure uses mirrored 12 TB Red Hat Linux servers to handle the day-to-day operations. “Those servers have everything—including all the files that our customers send us. The data keeps growing every year, and we keep adding new technology and processes to protect it and keep it available.”

3-2-1 BACKUP STRATEGY PROTECTS AGAINST DATA LOSS

AM Lithography uses a 3-2-1 backup strategy for all of its data using backup software and Quantum tape libraries. “The IT team here has used Quantum libraries since long before I came to the company eleven years ago,” Gamber explains. “At first it was at the recommendation of our reseller—NAPC. They have helped us find the right technical solutions for years, they understand our business incredibly well, and helped us engineer and sustain a world-class workflow, backup and archive strategy.” The IT team uses daily incremental backups and weekly fulls, writing all the data to the Quantum library. “That gives us two copies,” Gamber explains, “the primary copy and another on tape. To provide the third copy, we periodically move tapes to an off-site location for longer term protection. That gives us both short term backup files for quick restores and long-term protection as part of disaster preparedness. Because the backups are on tape, they give us an important defense against cyberattacks like ransomware that can compromise files stored only on disk.”

LONG-TERM ARCHIVE STORED

In the same library but backup isn’t the only need. “We also use our Quantum library to provide a long-term archive for our work, and for that we use Archiware P5, software specifically designed to let us easily move files to tape for long term archive,” Gamber explains. “The interface is simple, anyone can retrieve files from tape quickly and easily, and it integrates easily with the Scalar library and its LTO drives and media. We can leave tapes in the library for quick access, and we can create duplicates to move off site for DR protection, as well.” Today the AM Lithography library is a Scalar i3 designed to provide mid-sized IT environments true, Enterprise-class data protection and archiving. The library can start as small as a single, 3U rack-mountable system, but it scales in 25-cartridge increments to accommodate data growth, eventually reaching a capacity of up to 12 Petabytes. The library uses Quantum capacity-on-demand, software-key based scaling to provide easy, and non-disruptive, economic growth. Best-in-class storage density and the industry’s most energy efficient power supplies minimize data center space and cooling requirements to keep costs low.

FAST BACKUP AND RECOVERY

“The Quantum library is incredibly fast,” Gamber explains. “Backups all get finished within our allowed windows— even our weekly full backups only take a few hours—and recovery of files is also fast, almost instantaneous. Reliability has also been exemplary. Once the system was up and running, it just works—we go months at a time without having to look at it or think about it.” Recovery speed was important recently when one of the servers was taken out of commission by a cyberattack. “I admit to being nervous when I first heard about the attack, but all of our preparation and planning paid off big time. We had all the data safely on tape and we rebuilt the system in only a few hours. Nothing was lost and we were back up and working the same day.”

TAKING A PARTNER APPROACH

“AM Lithography has also thought of its clients as partners,” Gamber said. “We want to help them solve their print and packaging problems over the long term— and we pride ourselves on having many, many customers that have used our services for decades.” The company looks for the same approach in when it picks its vendors. “We put a premium on finding people we

can work with successfully for years— Quantum fits that pattern. We have used Quantum libraries over and over again, upgrading to the next generation of drives, media and platforms as our needs change. When an issue does come up, and they are rare, the company takes whatever action is needed to resolve it quickly.”

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Monticello Associates Case Study

Quantum DXi and Scalar Provide Small Businesses with the Peace of Mind that Comes from Simplified, Tiered Data Protection

AGING INFRASTRUCTURE TOO SLOW AND UNRELIABLE FOR GROWING BACKUP NEEDS

Monticello Associates is an employee-owned asset management and investment consulting business that employs 39 people at its headquarters in Denver and another five at its Cleveland satellite office. The company has two data centers, one onsite at its headquarters and a second for business continuity and disaster recovery at a colocation facility near Denver. While it’s a small business, Monticello is growing quickly, with a long-term strategy that envisions the adoption of new technologies and services like desktop virtualization. When Trevor Fougere, Monticello’s IT Director and Computer Systems Analyst, joined the firm in 2007 as its lone, full-time IT professional, one of the first things he noticed was that the company had a very old and questionable backup system. “It was old and troublesome,” says Fougere. “We were dumping our main file shares, as well as our mail storage onto an old Dell PowerVault LTO-2 tape system. Tapes were recycled every two months. We kept the most recent months’ worth of tapes onsite and sent the others to offsite storage. But there was no way to tell if the tapes were useful, and we experienced many failures during backup and recovery operations. We would have to restart backup jobs after each failure and monitor until completion.” “Basically, we had old tape, old tape drives, and an older-generation server. It just wasn’t 100% reliable.” Having long worked in the financial services industry, Fougere knew this was a serious and immediate problem for Monticello. As a stopgap, he implemented a disk-to-disk-to-tape (D2D2T) system with a single LTO-2 tape drive. Monticello would have the ability to do limited restores from disk, but not much else. He also adopted a more rigorous backup process, with weekly backup tapes stored offsite with Iron Mountain for a year and annual tapes going offsite for seven years. But Monticello’s technology foundation was expanding. The company was growing both its file server and Exchange server structure, had added a virtualized environment using VMware, and had implemented an EqualLogic SAN at its main Denver offices that replicated to an identical SAN at its secondary facility for disaster recovery. Now the company needed to upgrade its data protection.

QUANTUM DELIVERS COMPREHENSIVE DATA PROTECTION

Fougere wanted to establish a solution that would provide 3-5 years of headroom for the company’s backup and recovery needs. He still believed D2D2T offered the most cost-effective approach, but he wanted a system that was faster for both backup and restore, more reliable and less costly than his current system, and one that reduced the cost of tape and minimized manual handling. He also needed it to incorporate support for Monticello’s legacy LTO-2 tape. “Given that we’re a highly reputable company that deals with many influential clients and money managers, I didn’t want to experiment,” Fougere notes. “Disk-to-disk-to-tape is a proven system for backup, and you can’t beat it for price.” In addition to better performance, Fougere wanted to be able to store a full month of data onsite (one full backup and four incremental backups) under a greatly expanded backup plan that included additional system-states and a development environment—as well as the possibility of virtualized desktops using Citrix’s VDI. At the outset, Fougere estimated the total backup size to be approximately 900GB before deduplication, with the potential for that to double once the new backup plan was fully in place. Monticello sought bids from hardware vendors and VARs, including H.A. Storage Systems, which specializes in data storage and data management solutions. Monticello considered three options:

  • A basic hardware upgrade of its current system, comprised of a Dell T420 server with local storage and a PowerVault (LT0-4) tape library.
  • An EMC DD620 deduplication appliance with DataDomain and Tandberg t40+ tape (LTO-5) connected to an unspecified server. Monticello would have had to find a third party to migrate its legacy tape to LTO-5.
  • A Dell R310 server, Quantum DXi4601 deduplication backup appliance, Quantum Scalar i40 (LTO-5) tape library, and a single LTO-3 tape drive for legacy data access (the solution proposed by H.A. Storage Systems).

In the end, according to Fougere, the choice was simple.

“From a capability/performance standpoint, the Quantum-based solution was tailor-made for our needs,” he says. “I really liked the idea of having an integrated solution, and I’m very familiar with Quantum.” DXi OFFERS ROOM TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS The 8TB capacity of the DXi solution leaves quite a bit of room for Monticello’s expanding data needs. So even as the company has added server-states and more Exchange data, with the appliance’s powerful data deduplication they haven’t come close to maxing out the system. “We keep upping our retention periods to try and get past the 20 percent level of storage used on the DXi, and we still can’t get there,” Fougere comments. And Monticello Associates is also benefiting from the impressive performance of the DXi solution. Full backups are set to run after close of business on Fridays and are usually done by early Saturday morning—just a fraction of the time they used to take. From Fougere’s perspective, the backup capacity and speed are matched by the reliability of the solution. “We haven’t had an ounce of trouble with it,” says Fougere. “With our old system, I’d wake up in the middle of the night with nightmares of failed backup jobs. But since we started using the comprehensive DXi and Scalar solution from Quantum, our backup failures are pretty much non-existent.” In addition, the Scalar tape component is a key part of the overall system. Monticello is now able to keep six months of weekly file server backups on hand. “It’s great to have those available for immediate restore if we need them,” he notes. Overall, the new solution has been a perfect fit for a small business-like Monticello Associates. “Compared with some of the other vendors and VARs we spoke to, working with Quantum and H.A. Storage Systems has been a pleasure,” says Fougere. “We’re really happy”.