The new setup better positions Aviall to build a more robust disaster-recovery plan because it supports near-real-time replication. "Before this, restores were completely from tape," Douglas says. "So we'd have to ship the tapes to a SunGard facility that had the right servers and backup equipment, and we'd restore everything from tape. At best, we were hoping we could restore everything in a week's time."
In 2008, Aviall is working to build a disaster-recovery collocation site that supports real-time data replication, reducing to just minutes the overall time to get up and running after a disaster. "We're hoping to obsolete that whole tape process by using site-to-site replication," he says. "If something happens to the primary site, all the data will just come up on the [disaster-recovery] site. And with dedicated, high-speed connections to the collocation site, we can make sure we have near real-time replication."
Douglas says Aviall receives all these benefits -- a doubling of its storage capacity, far more efficient backup and restorations, as well as real-time disaster recovery -- without increasing its overall storage costs.
"This new equipment that literally has twice as much storage and can outperform the old stuff, I wanted it for the same lease payment," he says. "You can imagine how hard those negotiations went."
Douglas says the terms are not that far-fetched, because chips and manufacturing equipment is so much less expensive now than when he leased the old equipment back in 2002. "That's why I had pretty high expectations," he says. "Plus, we knew our old EMC hardware would have a lot of residual value at the end of the lease."
In the end, Aviall got the price it wanted (it wouldn't share specifics with us). To top it off, Douglas negotiated a six-month window to migrate to the new equipment, before lease payments kicked in. "Each weekend beginning in April, we migrated something from the old array to the new array, and we were actually finished with the migration before the end of October," he says, noting that the lease payments began in November. "It was very smooth. That's one of my paradigms. We wanted to make sure there was no impact to the business, and what that really means is they were unaware the migration was going on."