2 page Case Study
Posted: 2/19/2014
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Walbridge Construction Firm Reduces Backup and Recovery Costs by 80 Percent with Hybrid Cloud Storage

Walbridge is a global construction firm with annual revenues of more than US$1 billion. With rapidly growing storage needs for backup and recovery, it realized that it needed a more innovative approach. It could no longer go on buying increasingly expensive conventional storage arrays. To save on expenses, Walbridge deployed hybrid cloud storage from Microsoft based on StorSimple and Windows Azure—and reduced database restore times by more than 80 percent.

Business Needs
Walbridge job sites are often remote and have very limited Internet access. An onsite office is usually either in a trailer or temporary office space. The company needed to find a way to have all its critical data and files available instantly at every job site. In addition, it wanted to implement a corporate IT strategy designed to move everything possible to the cloud within three years.

“Our desire is to steadily reduce the size of our corporate data center until it is just one small room containing only one server. Everything else will be in the cloud,” says Cynthia Weaver, Vice President of IT at Walbridge.

In fact, 40 percent of data at Walbridge was already in the cloud. The company had already migrated to Office 365, which unites familiar Microsoft Office applications with the power of Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online into one connected, online solution.

The company’s main challenge was to discover the right way to manage file storage, because each job included numerous large files. In addition, it needed to make all the different types of files and data portable for its field operations.

Walbridge didn’t want to have to worry about how much space each and every new file used as it was added to the system. Adding to its woes was the fact that many of its files contained huge 3D visual models of new projects. One serious problem for Walbridge was that it had to save and back up multiple versions of the same large files that were only slightly different from each other. As a result, it needed a cost-effective method of deduplicating files to save both massive amounts of storage space and money. The major dollar savings would come from the fact that it would no longer need to buy as many expensive new storage arrays.

Walbridge had much more data than it had space for. Rather than continuing to add more and more conventional storage and backup systems, it decided to adopt a cost-avoidance strategy by looking for a more sensible storage solution.

Walbridge found just what it needed in a StorSimple and Windows Azure hybrid cloud storage solution. After comparing the cost of more conventional storage arrays to the StorSimple proposal, it was convinced that the solution was the best choice for the company.

* To recover a file, all we need is the date and time the file was deleted and the file is restored in a matter of minutes, compared to several days using the old system. *

Cynthia Weaver
Vice President of IT, Walbridge

The StorSimple family of cloud-integrated storage solutions is an on-premises enterprise SAN (storage area network) that interoperates with Windows Azure to provide hybrid cloud storage for primary, backup, archive, and disaster recovery needs.

StorSimple stores frequently used data on solid-state drives for very fast performance. Older or less frequently used data is stored either on serial-attached SCSI drives or in Windows Azure.

Walbridge uses StorSimple data deduplication to compress its data. It also uses the Capacity Charting feature to see how much data is on every server and to measure rapid data growth in real time.

“We needed to find a new technology that could help us cope with the explosive data growth that we are experiencing,” says Weaver. “Storage space that used to last us five years now only lasts for three. With Windows Azure and StorSimple, we found exactly what we were looking for.”

By using the hybrid cloud storage solution from Microsoft, Walbridge has been able to significantly increase the speed of backup-and-restore processes and dramatically reduce the administrative overhead of data protection.

After deploying the StorSimple and Windows Azure solution, Walbridge also saw substantial savings over the conventional SAN alternative because employees were able to handle the company’s tremendous data growth in a more cost-effective way.

Faster Restore Processes
With the hybrid cloud storage, the company reduced restore times to a just a few minutes. “To recover a file, all we need is the date and time the file was deleted and the file is restored in a matter of minutes, compared to several days using the old system,” says Weaver. For example, it now takes only two minutes to recover a file versus days using tape.

The company reduced individual database restore times by more than 80 percent, from two hours to fewer than 20 minutes. It also scheduled backups to be done at night to avoid interference with critical daytime applications.

Reduced Storage Management Time
By taking advantage of the features of the cloud-integrated storage solution, Walbridge slashed the administrative time required for backups and restores in half. Backup times were also reduced significantly.

Cost Savings of Up to 80 Percent
In the past, Walbridge had problems saving and backing up files containing huge 3D visual models. The company found that hybrid cloud storage was a cost-effective way of deduplicating files to save both great amounts of storage space and costs. It reduced overall storage costs 60 to 80 percent through thin provisioning and deduplication. It also saved the cost of tapes and other equipment.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 1000 employees

Organization Profile

Walbridge, a Fortune 1000 global construction company, specializes in large construction projects, including office buildings, airports, and manufacturing plants. It is based in Detroit, Michigan.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Microsoft Office 365
  • StorSimple
  • Windows Server 2008

Vertical Industries
Architecture, Engineering & Construction

United States

Business Need
  • Cloud & Server Platform
  • Cost Containment