Insight Investments Combines NetApp, Riverbed For Remote Replication

Insight Investments has built a remote data replication and disaster recovery services platform for midsize and enterprise business customers, and plans to make it available to other solution providers looking to offer similar services to their clients.

The Orange, Calif.-based solution provider and independent lessor of IT and medical equipment this week officially unveiled its Insight Recall Division to offer the new services based on technology from storage vendor NetApp and WAN acceleration appliance vendor Riverbed.

The Insight Recall solution provides each customer a dedicated NetApp storage appliance that sits in a remote Tier-1 data center in Chandler, Ariz., to which data is replicated on a continuous basis over a T1 line, said Chris Aliberti, senior vice president and director of national sales at Insight Integrated Systems, the IT solution provider arm of Insight Investments.

Also included is a pair of Riverbed Steelhead WAN acceleration appliances, one at the customer site and the other at the remote site, Aliberti said.

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Changes to the customer's data are replicated using NetApp's SnapMirror, SnapVault and SnapManager for Exchange applications via the Riverbed appliances over a T1 line as they occur, he said.

The result, Aliberti said, is a secure and highly available remote data replication and recovery service for midsize and larger customers in the $100 million to $800 million revenue range, which allows them to quickly recover data in the event of a disaster.

Trying to find the right combination of technologies took some time, Aliberti said.

"I've worked at NetApp and EMC in the past, and I've seen many attempts to set up off-site replication services," he said. "Before, we experimented with replication with NetApp, but it didn't really work until we brought in Riverbed."

Riverbed's Steelhead WAN acceleration appliance was the key to the service as it allowed the replication to be done over a T1 line, Aliberti said.

That is because Insight makes a seed backup copy of the customer's data at the customer site directly to a NetApp appliance, and then ships that appliance to the Arizona facility. After that, only changes to the data are replicated over the T1 line.

Most businesses' data changes at a rate of less than 10 percent daily, well within the bandwidth capabilities of the Riverbed appliances, especially with compression, he said.

Insight decided to provide each customer a dedicated NetApp appliance at the remote site instead of using a shared storage platform for increased security and to make the appliance transportable, Aliberti said.

"We can use a certified courier to move the box when the customer needs to restore all data," Aliberti said. "We can get the box back to Southern California often within six hours."

Aliberti said the choice of Chandler, Ariz., for the remote data replication and disaster recovery solution was no accident. "There's low power costs," he said. "And there's no earthquakes. We originally planned to replicate the data to another location in Southern California, but customers here ask, 'What about earthquakes?'"

Insight Recall is being targeted at customers ranging from small businesses to large enterprises, said Dave Carpenter, director of business development at Insight Integrated Systems.

For smaller customers, Insight will provide a NetApp StoreVault storage appliance at the remote site, with a base configuration that allows replication of up to 3TB of data at a price of about $2,000 per month, Carpenter said.

For midsize and larger customers in the $100 million to $800 million revenue range, Insight will provide a NetApp FAS2020 appliance, with pricing starting at $2,400 per month for up to 3TB of replicated data.

In either case, the company offers a professional service ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 to help customers understand what data needs to be replicated and to ensure the correct level of bandwidth, Carpenter said. This includes leaving a NetApp appliance at the customer site for a week to measure the rate of change of the data and test the mirroring capabilities, he said.

Carpenter said that even though NetApp has just recently announced the end-of-life of its StoreVault appliance, his company still has several units in stock. However, he said the FAS2020 offers much greater scalability for larger customers.

Insight will also work with customers who have implemented a virtual server environment using VMware to tie their virtual servers into the Insight Recall replication offering, Aliberti said.

In addition, Insight will be offering its service to other solution providers that have customers who need remote replication but who cannot offer the service themselves, Carpenter said. "We can partner with other VARs to use our professional services, or to resell our Insight services," he said.

While NetApp invested resources to support the new service, it is not limited only to customers with NetApp infrastructures, Aliberti said. "We use NetApp because it works well with all vendors' storage products," he said. "And it's the only company with all the protocols that we need."