The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office (http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/) is a government legal agency with 1000 employees in 22 offices across the state. It is the chief law enforcement unit in the state that prosecutes organized crime and public corruption.
- Government Legal Agency
- Slow data backup between data center and disaster recovery site
- Heavy use of web applications across 22 offices
- Cisco WAAS deployed, but did not provide HTTP acceleration
- Cisco WAAS was expensive to upgrade
- Steelhead appliances deployed at 22 remote sites with the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC)
- Backup windows shortened by 80%
- Effective backup of information to disaster recovery site
- Bandwidth capacity increased by 4.8x
- Accelerated web applications
- Improved visibility into application performance across the WAN
Pennsylvania Attorney General
Riverbed Steelhead products replace Cisco WAAS at a state Attorney General’s office
The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office (http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/) is a government legal agency with 1000 employees in 22 offices across the state. It is the chief law enforcement unit in the state that prosecutes organized crime and public corruption.
The Attorney General’s Office employs 250 attorneys and manages large amounts of data that needs to be retrieved or moved quickly between sites and stored securely. Speedy access to data, reliable data security, and data retention over long periods of time are crucial to the agency’s day-to-day operations. To respond to data retention requirements for e-discovery, the agency has completely centralized its servers into a data center and maintains a disaster recovery site for data backup.
Challenge: Backing Up Data to the Disaster Recovery Site
To centralize file management and e-discovery, the agency had adopted web applications such as Micro- soft XRM, SharePoint, Agile Fleet Control, and Lexis Nexis across the 22 offices. However, running HTTP applications became a challenge for end-users. “Most people complained that access to Lexis Nexis took them minutes when it should take seconds,” said Deputy Chief Information Officer Jim Ingalzo. “People also complained it would take them too long to check out a car using the Agile Fleet Control application. We knew that upgrading the bandwidth really wouldn’t help us solve these performance problems,’ Ingalzo added.
To overcome these issues, the agency looked into wide area network (WAN) optimization technologies. “Because we are a Cisco shop, we purchased WAAS appliances in early 2006 to accelerate our email, file access, and web applications,” said Ingalzo. Nevertheless, end-users’ complaints that access to files and data were slow did not abate. “Although the office had purchased the WAAS solution, web applications were not accelerated effectively. Data backups were also slow and often interrupted business hours. We considered upgrading WAAS to see if it would solve some of these challenges, but the upgrades were costly,” he added.
Because upgrades to Cisco WAAS would have cost as much as purchasing new WAN optimization technology, the agency decided to research other options. After reading research from Gartner, Ingalzo decided to contact Riverbed. “We conducted a trial with Steelhead appliances and were impressed with the CIFS, MAPI, and HTTP optimization,” Ingalzo said. During the trials, the Steelhead appliances accelerated HTTP applications and complaints about access ceased.
Solution: 22 Steelhead Appliances Replace Cisco WAAS
To speed up data backup and accelerate web applications, Ingalzo chose to replace the Cisco WAAS offering with the Riverbed solution. Riverbed Steelhead appliances were deployed at 22 remote sites with the Riverbed CMC.
With the Steelhead appliances in place, results were immediate. “The Steelhead appliances accelerated the backup of data from the data center to the DR site and helped simplify file management without disruption to file access,” noted Ingalzo. Now the Deputy CIO can back up files quickly and without interruption. “Since deploying the Riverbed solution, we have not had to send out emails to explain there will be nightly backups that would slow down the network,” he said.
Furthermore, the CMC allowed administrators to gain full control of configuring, updating, and monitoring the Steelhead appliances through one Web-based interface. The CMC also provided visibility into how applications are performing across a WAN. “I like the CMC because it gives me an overview of the 22 appliances, without having to pull separate reports,” stated Ingalzo.
Benefits: Backup Windows Shortened by 80%
The key benefit for the Pennsylvania’s Office of Attorney General was faster and more transparent data backup and storage processes. Deputy CIO Jim Ingalzo emphasized, “Riverbed has consistently shortened our NetApp backup windows by 80% and now our backups do not run into the business day.”
All data is transmitted via WAN links back to the data center to be stored on the SAN. Periodically throughout the day, snapshots are taken of the data and then transmitted to the DR site. With Riverbed installed, Ingalzo can run quick snapshots of the data over the WAN to the DR site throughout the day.
“Riverbed is accelerating the traffic between our remote locations and the data center, and then as we take snapshots, it further accelerates the transfer of those snapshots to our DR site,” said Ingalzo.
In addition, bandwidth capacity was increased by 4.8x with data reduction of 79%. Web applications have also been accelerated effectively, which has in turn improved productivity. “With Riverbed accelerating HTTP applications, many of our attorneys told us they now can access Lexis Nexis so quickly it’s helped prevent backups in our case load,” Ingalzo shared. “As soon as Riverbed was in production, complaints stopped and we are seeing a significant increase in web application performance,” he concluded.
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General was facing slow data backups to the data center and disaster recovery (DR) site. The agency was also facing heavy use of web applications in its 22 statewide offices. In 2006, the agency had purchased Cisco WAAS to accelerate applications over the WAN, but complaints about slow application performance continued.
The agency chose Riverbed Technology for its ability to optimize CIFS, MAPI, and HTTP and its ease of management. Steelhead appliances were deployed at 22 offices with the Riverbed Central Management Console (CMC). With the appliances in place, backup windows were shortened by 80%, and bandwidth capacity increased by 4.8x. The agency has been able to eliminate file servers from its 22 offices and optimize the backup of information to the data center and DR site.
Riverbed has consistently shortened our Net App backup windows by 80% and now our backups do not run into the business day.
Although the office had purchased the WAAS solution, web applications were not accelerated effectively. Data backups were also slow and often interrupted business hours. We considered upgrading WAAS to see if it would solve some of these challenges, but the upgrades were costly.
The Steelhead appliances helped the backup of data from the data center to the disaster recovery site and helped simplify file management without disruption to file access.
I like the CMC because it gives me an overview of the 22 appliances, without having to pull separate reports.