For more than 70 years, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) has committed itself to educating ministers of the Christian gospel. The institution serves more than 5,000 students from across the U.S. and around the world at its campus in Wake Forest, North Carolina and via online programs.
To serve its students and faculty both on-campus and online, SEBTS has a robust IT infrastructure that includes terabytes of data it needs to protect. In an effort to reduce licensing costs and simplify management, Director of IT Wayne Jenks decided in 2016 to move away from VMware and implement a Nutanix hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) using AHV. In addition to on-premises backups, some VMs were backed up to cloud storage hosted by another provider.
A ransomware attack in August of 2019 changed the picture. While Jenks was able to avert disaster using Nutanix snapshots and other backups, he recognized the need to expand his off-campus cloud backups to improve disaster recovery. Unfortunately, the increased volume of data exceeded the vendor’s contracted storage limit of 3TB, triggering steep overage charges.
“The overages nearly doubled our annual costs with the cloud backup vendor. I wondered whether there was a way we could be paying less,” Jenks says, noting that the vendor also did not support Nutanix AHV, providing further incentive to find a better solution.
With help from Google Cloud partner, Burwood Group, worked to deploy the right solution. Burwood helped onboard SEBTS onto Google Cloud Platform (GCP) along with assisting in provisioning of multiple cloud resources that enabled successful data transfers to HYCU. The process was straightforward, the interface is really smooth, and as a result, it was very easy to get HYCU quickly setup within GCP. As Doug Burton, Executive Director, Burwood Group notes, “The HYCU team is very motivated and helpful. Their engineers were easy to work with and knowledgeable about how to get the product deployed.”
Jenks also gave the green light to HYCU Protégé, which offers simplified management of his on-premises and GCP cloud backup environments. The solution’s SpinUp functionality enables migration of VMs between on-premises and cloud platforms, enhancing data resilience.
While Jenks initially adopted HYCU to reduce costs, he soon discovered that was just the beginning of its value. “If I had known sooner about some of HYCU’s other features, like the ability to restore an entire VM or application-specific tasks, I would have switched sooner,” he says.
Significant cost savings: Moving to GCP with HYCU for cloud backups has generated tremendous savings for SEBTS. “We are now paying a fraction of the cost for cloud backup capacity for even more data,” Jenks says, noting that he can store 10TB on GCP for about $100 per month, versus $1,400 per month for just 6TB with his previous cloud backup vendor due to overage charges.
Expanded backup capability: Driving down the cost of cloud storage enables SEBTS to maintain more backups for longer. “With HYCU, I can keep backups much farther into the past,” Jenks says. “Now I can have some monthly backups from the past for those rare situations when I need to go back further.”
Flexibility and simplicity: Jenks appreciates the flexibility of HYCU’s customizable policies. “I can have a different retention policy for every single VM if I need to,” he explains, “As long as there is physical space available locally or in the cloud, I can have nearly an infinite number of restore points. That’s not something I could have managed with our former backup solution.”
Having centralized management of both on-premises and cloud backup targets also adds flexibility. “Now I have two different locations I can back up to and they don’t even have to be the same backup sets to those locations,” he says, noting that he can easily add physical storage devices or spin up new cloud targets as needed.
Impressive support: Jenks has special praise for HYCU support, including his HYCU support engineer. “Of all the support engineers I have ever encountered, he is the most knowledgeable,” Jenks says. “He’s been willing to run down any issue and not leave me hanging. I have been thoroughly impressed.”
“I could see that backing up to Google Cloud Platform with HYCU would be significantly less expensive than what we were paying our existing cloud backup vendor.” Wayne Jenks, Director of IT, SEBTS