4-page Case Study
Posted: 12/15/2008
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Integrated Community Oncology Network Cancer Physicians Network Optimizes Backup of Virtualized Servers with Microsoft Data Protection Manager

Overview

Based in Florida, The Integrated Community Oncology Network (ICON) is an association of physicians dedicated to delivering an integrated approach to cancer treatment, research, education, and prevention. Patients turn to ICON for treatment of cancer or blood disorders, and the organization is committed to providing the highest possible quality of care for its patients, delivered with compassion and a respect for their rights.

The organization began as part of US Oncology, breaking away in 2002 to form Florida Oncology Associates. In 2004, it merged with a group of radiation physicians to form ICON. Today, ICON’s 400 employees work in offices throughout the First Coast region of Florida, including Jacksonville, Saint Augustine, Orange Park, Palatka, and the Jacksonville Beaches. With 70 physician specialists, ICON offers services including oncologic imaging and radiation, urologic, and medical oncology through the Florida Radiation Oncology Group (FROG), McIver Clinic, the PET/CT Center, and Florida Oncology Associates.

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* Being able to automate our backup schedule so that our data would always be available and recoverable presented real and significant business value for us. *
Dan Taylor
Systems Administrator
Integrated Community Oncology Network
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Situation

ICON currently has 400 PCs and more than 80 servers under management, with 7 people on staff in the IT department. Desktop and server operating systems being run include Microsoft® Windows® 2000, Windows 2003, Windows 2008, Windows XP, and Windows XP Embedded. The ICON IT team needed to protect 6 physical servers, and more than 30 virtualized servers running in a Microsoft Hyper-V™ environment.

The organization’s tape-based data backup system, Symantec™ Backup Exec™, was not providing the round-the-clock protection and ease of recovery that is required in an environment that maintains confidential patient and healthcare data for thousands of individuals. According to Dan Taylor, Systems Administrator at ICON, “Because we had been relying solely on a tape-based system, we were unable to run multiple backups throughout the day. If a file was changed between backups, we had no way to perform granular file recoveries to restore specific data if users requested it.” Due to the small size of the IT organization and the significant amount of time that was being spent on data recovery and backup processes, it had become difficult to carve out time and resources to pursue long-term, strategic technology goals.

Especially concerned with the safety of the more than 1TB of critical data housed on the virtualized servers, Taylor’s team knew it needed to deploy a robust data protection solution that would give them the ability to conduct continuous backups throughout the day, and support “point-in-time” data recovery. With the Symantec solution ICON had not been able to restore any data on its virtualized servers, leaving them at serious risk should any of those servers go down. By deploying Microsoft Data protection Manager (DPM) 2007, including its new Service Pack 1, ICON is now able to ensure the safety of its data—particularly on virtual servers—conduct point-in-time recoveries, and focus IT resources on higher-value activities. Says Taylor, “Being able to automate our backup scheduling so that our data would always be available and recoverable presented real and significant business value for us.”

The Microsoft Solution

Microsoft Data Protection Manager 2007, a member of the Microsoft System Center family of products, protects business-critical data using a robust replication and checkpoint system and continuous data protection (CDP). Offering tailored, application-aware protection for Microsoft Windows Server®, Microsoft SQL Server®, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SharePoint® Server, and virtualized environments, DPM 2007 enables fast, disk-based, consistent backups, and easy recovery through an IT administrator console, or for individual employees through Microsoft Windows Explorer or the Microsoft Office System.

ICON was already using DPM when it was invited to participate in the DPM Service Pack 1 Technology Adoption Program (TAP) after meeting with a Microsoft representative at an industry event. The company was already familiar with System Center products through their use of Configuration Manager 2007, Virtual Machine Manager 2008, and Operations Manager 2007.

The company began deploying DPM 2007 in the fourth quarter of 2007. Today, a total of 40 ICON servers are backed up with DPM2007, including 6 physical servers and an additional 34 running in a Hyper-V/Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 environment. The workloads DPM currently protects include Microsoft Certificate Services, System Center Operations Manager 2007, System Center Configuration Manager 2007, Windows file servers, SQL Server 2005 and Exchange 2007. ICON’s DPM 2007 Service Pack 1 deployment is ongoing, with plans to add Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007, and to also support offsite replication of the DPM backup in the coming year.

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* It’s been invaluable for us to be able to run incremental disk-based backups throughout the day instead of relying on a single overnight tape backup. The peace of mind we have knowing we are no longer at risk for catastrophic data loss is tremendous. *
Dan Taylor
Systems Administrator
Integrated Community Oncology Network
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Increase in Data Backups

With the DPM deployment, ICON is now able to perform multiple data backups throughout the day. “It’s been invaluable for us to be able to run incremental disk-based backups throughout the day instead of relying on a single overnight tape backup,” says Taylor. “The peace of mind we have knowing we are no longer at risk for catastrophic data loss is tremendous.” Secondary backup to tape is now only conducted on the weekends, and only for certain servers.

Fast, Easy Data Recovery

One of ICON’s biggest issues with regard to data restoration was its ongoing need to perform granular, point-in-time data recovery when end users requested it. With the Symantec solution, data restoration overall was a slow, arduous process that monopolized much of the company’s IT resources; recovering data that had been modified since the previous night’s backup was virtually impossible. Today, thanks to DPM 2007 automated incremental backups, ICON can now perform point-in-time data recovery for end users whenever it is requested, and the users themselves can self-recover data directly from their desktops, eliminating the need for IT intervention completely.

Prior to deploying DPM, ICON had no way to restore the data from a virtualized server if it went down. Today, the data housed in ICON’s virtualized servers is easy to restore using DPM. “This is a great solution for backing up virtual machines,” he says. “It automatically alerts us if a server goes down in our Hyper-V environment, and the recovery process for the VMs is fast and smooth.”

More IT Resources for Strategic Projects

As a small group that is on point for all infrastructure and support issues across a healthcare agency, the workload for the IT team at ICON can be heavy. Add to this the additional burden of managing a backup and recovery solution that is not able to adapt to the needs of the organization, and IT resources become noticeably thin. The level of management required by ICON’s tape-based solution had begun to erode the team’s ability to focus on strategic projects.

By deploying the DPM 2007 disk-based backup solution however, ICON’s IT department is now able to focus more of its efforts toward developing and deploying solutions that support the organization’s long-term, strategic technology goals. Says Taylor, “Being able to shift our focus from managing data recovery and backup to other projects has enabled us to really add value as an organization. We now have more hours to devote to projects like migrating to Exchange 2007, and rolling out other new business applications.”

Microsoft System Center Microsoft System Center is a family of leading IT management solutions that helps you proactively plan, deploy, manage, and optimize your IT environment. For more information about System Center solutions, go to: www.microsoft.com/systemcenter 
Solution Overview



Organization Size: 400 employees

Organization Profile

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, the Integrated Community Oncology Network (ICON) is an association of physicians dedicated to delivering an integrated approach to cancer treatment, research, education, and prevention.


Business Situation

ICON’s tape-based data backup solution was not providing round-the-clock continuous data protection and ease of recovery that the organization required.


Solution

By deploying DPM 2007, ICON is now able to ensure the safety of its data—particularly on virtual servers, conduct point-in-time recoveries, and focus IT resources on higher-value activities.


Benefits
  • 100% increase in speed of data restoration for virtual machines
  • Exchange and file server data backups now performed continuously every 15 minutes, instead of once nightly
  • 86% decrease in tape backups conducted
  • 10% increase in IT availability for strategic projects

Software and Services
  • Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager 2007
  • Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V
  • Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007
  • Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008

Vertical Industries
Health Provider

Country/Region
United States

Languages
English

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