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Software developer uses Flexential data center for DR

Out of the cabinet and into the cloud, Virtual Resort Manager's disaster recovery journey started at colocation and ended up completely off premises in a cloud.

Virtual Resort Manager is located in a high-risk hurricane zone, it has scant IT infrastructure personnel and it stores sensitive customer financial data. It's no wonder that the North-Carolina-based VRM pays a lot of attention to disaster recovery. With the addition of Flexential data center, colocation and the cloud have become key to the company's DR strategy.

The threat of stormy weather on the North Carolina coast prompted VRM to use a colocation site for DR, and then incorporate the cloud to take advantage of the latest technologies. VRM, a company that develops management software for vacation rentals, not only needed disaster recovery, but a scalable storage environment with little impact to its day-to-day operations. It eventually moved its entire IT infrastructure off site.

VRM started out with colocation services from a provider in Greensboro, N.C. However, within a year of service, the data center in Greensboro performed some hardware upgrades that, as Michael Hill, VRM vice president and director of software development, said, "didn't help us at all. Bandwidth went down, became spotty, power issues -- that type of thing."

Headshot of Michael HillMichael Hill

In 2006, VRM switched to Flexential, known as Peak 10 at the time. Peak 10 acquired ViaWest and rebranded as Flexential in January 2018. It took VRM less than 18 hours to move everything to the Flexential data center in Raleigh, N.C. The move also allowed VRM's on-premises data center to downsize from two cabinets to just one.

The Flexential data center provided VRM with redundancy through colocation for eight years. Then, in 2014, VRM's IT director left the company. On top of that, VRM's on-premises appliance was getting old, and the threat of hardware failure loomed. Hill looked into cloud services, and, after a cost-benefit analysis, ultimately chose Flexential. "For my money, it was better to colocate, take that headache off of me. We weren't going to hire a full-time IT person on top of buying new hardware," he said.

VRM was already familiar with the Flexential data center services and had established a relationship, which heavily influenced Hill's decision. Still, he explored other options.

"We did look at others to make sure we knew what others were offering and at what price," Hill said. "We looked at [Microsoft] Azure, we looked at Dell. Flexential didn't come in at the highest or lowest [in price]."

"Not having an IT guy on staff, I know that with Flexential, they are my IT department," he added.

I fully expected at least two to three hours of downtime and frustration and pulling my hair out.
Michael HillVP and director of software development, Virtual Resort Manager

Hill said he was impressed by how smoothly the cloud migration went. "Based on past experiences, like when we did the move from two cabinets down to one cabinet, I expected downtime. I fully embraced that," he said. "Our experience moving to the cloud completely blew my mind because we had zero downtime. I fully expected at least two to three hours of downtime and frustration and pulling my hair out."

VRM's data includes the financial information of the company's clients and those clients' guests. Through Flexential's partnership with BAE Systems, a cybersecurity services provider, that financial data is protected, keeping VRM compliant. This was another benefit to moving VRM's data to Flexential's public cloud, and another potential headache Hill purposefully avoided.

Moving to Flexential's public cloud also allowed VRM to incorporate Flexential Recovery Cloud into its disaster recovery plan. "Now, if something actually happened to our production environment, what normally would've taken me anywhere from three to 12 hours to get back up and running, I can get done in about 45 minutes," Hill said.

Outside of Flexential's services, Hill keeps a server for offline development and uses SqlBak to create granular backups of the company's database objects. However, these backups get pushed to Flexential's cloud, keeping VRM's data completely off premises.

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