Economical Backup and Restore Solution Helps Safeguard Businesses Recovering from Catastrophe

Case Studies Aug 19, 2013

neighborhood destroyed by tornado with debris everywheree

Heartland Technology Solutions has been taking care of business in the nation's Midwest for more than 26 years. As one of the nation's fastest-growing managed service providers specializing in solutions for small to mid-sized businesses and K-12 educational institutions, the company sprung into action in May 2011 to help companies get back on their feet after an EF5 tornado devastated more than 500 businesses in Joplin, Missouri.

The Challenge

This natural disaster dramatically illustrated the effects of catastrophic data loss and the need for effective backup and disaster recovery strategies. Studies have estimated that nearly half of the small to midsized businesses which suffer catastrophic data loss stand to go out of business within five years. But even the loss of a single file can interrupt business processes and result in costly downtime. Heartland engages in ongoing efforts to identify and implement better and more effective ways to ensure data integrity through any kind of disaster.

Later in 2011, Heartland embarked on what became a year-and-a-half evaluation of hardware and software to identify more flexible and effective ways of providing maximum protection for its clients' data—and its own. The dedicated backup and recovery system that Heartland had been using had begun to show its age—and its limitations. Cost, capacity and scalability were key considerations; upgrades to the old system required the purchase of an entirely new hardware.

Action Taken

Heartland opted for a combined solution, choosing Buffalo Americas for hardware and StorageCraft Technology Corp. for software.  Heartland selected Buffalo's TeraStationTM WSS NAS Appliance and StorageCraft's ShadowProtect® and ImageManager® as its backup and disaster recovery software. Because the TeraStation WSS runs Microsoft® Windows Storage Server software, it proved to be an ideal platform for ShadowProtect and ImageManager, which are designed to run on Windows-based systems. The TeraStation WSS uses industry-standard RAID 5 technology to provide the fault-tolerance that is necessary for data back-up solutions.

Heartland was so impressed with the performance of the combined offering that they not only began replacing backup-and-recovery systems at each client site with the new solution, they implemented it as the backup solution for their data center as well. Very quickly, it became central to Heartland's solutions offering.

Heartland serves a number of rural clients in tertiary markets where high-speed Internet connections are often unavailable, and clients sometimes struggle to achieve even a 512 Kbps upstream connection. Using ShadowProtect, Heartland creates an initial "seed" image and stores it on an external device, such as a USB hard drive. That device is shipped to Heartland's data center to be replicated on the server.

By shipping the disk with the initial seed image, the client avoids having to upload gigabytes of data over its Internet connection. The incremental backup can transfer at its own pace so the backup isn't throttled by their Internet connection. It will run even if their Internet connection is down and can transfer the incremental updates when the connection is restored.

The client's Windows-based servers, running applications such as Exchange or SQL, use StorageCraft ShadowProtect to back up data to the TeraStation WSS that is located on-site. StorageCraft ImageManager, which runs on the TeraStation at the client site, sends incremental changes to Heartland's data center in Papillon, Nebraska, to update the off-site image. Heartland uses multiple TeraStation WSS units at their data center to store their clients' ShadowProtect images.

ShadowProtect not only backs up data, it creates an image of the entire operating system and all applications, settings and data files. Everything that is on the server is contained in the image. In a disaster recovery scenario, the image data can be used to quickly restore an entire server—even to different hardware. The image can also be restored to a virtual machine to minimize downtime.  When clients want to recover, they don't have to go to a web portal and download a file; they can just pick the files they need and restore them on the fly.

For their own use, Heartland reversed the process used for their clients. Since Heartland's data resides at its data center, the backups are made from the data center to TeraStation WSS devices located in their offices.


TeraStation WSS Windows Storage Server NAS appliance combined with StorageCraft ShadowProtect offers a cost effective and comprehensive solution for Heartland's clients, preserving the integrity of valuable data.  

"We were looking for something that would allow us to be more creative with our solutions. This combination offered a flexible solution scalable to a variety of needs."

- Derek Kuhr
NOC Manager, Heartland Technology Solutions

The protected data is always accessible because it is continually backed up. In turn, the backup is archived off-site at the data center, ensuring a prompt recovery if disaster strikes. "It just works!" said Kuhr.

Key Benefits

Windows Storage Server platform ideal for StorageCraft software
Initial "seed" image oers quick installation with paced incremental backup to reduce throttling
On-site backup solution with with o-site imaging
Quick data restoration to a virtual machine for minimal downtime
Economical and comprehensive backup soltuion to ensure data integrity