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Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Wins Big With EMC's Next Generation Backup & Recovery

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, a premier entertainment resort in Las Vegas, has implemented EMC Corporation's Avamar deduplication backup software and VMware virtualization solutions to centralize and streamline data backup operations and increase the efficiency of its information infrastructure through consolidation.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is in the midst of a major property expansion, increasing its number of guest rooms from 650 to nearly 1,600. Even as construction continues, the resort's critical systems, such as 140 point-of-sale (POS) terminals that employees use to check in guests, make reservations for spa treatments and process payments for food, drinks and merchandise, still need to be up and running.

"Doing a major property expansion while we're open is kind of like trying to solve a Rubik's cube," says Rob Kosier, IT director, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. "We still need to maintain top-flight guest services even as we periodically shut down certain operations because of construction. Our old tape backup system was making the situation even more challenging because growing backup windows required that we take our production applications off-line more often. Plus, our tape backups were sometimes failing and our tape costs and administration time were growing every month."

The solution
To address these issues, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino replaced its Symantec NetBackup system with EMC Avamar deduplication backup software. Hard Rock uses Avamar to remove redundant data and back up its revenue-generating POS system, spa management files, Microsoft Exchange emails, Microsoft SQL database and other applications.

Today, approximately 60 physical servers and VMware virtual machines are backed up daily to a centralized Avamar storage grid. With VMware ESX Server, Hard Rock consolidated the majority of its physical servers as 40 virtual machines, which are stored on EMC CLARiiON networked storage along with other applications.

"Because of this flexibility, our ROI with EMC has been a lot faster than we forecasted," says Kosier. "As we nearly triple the number of rooms on our property, we know our critical data will be available during this complex transition period and later across a much larger enterprise."

Hard Rock reduced file and VMware server data by over 97 percent as a result of Avamar's global, sub-file data deduplication technology. With a more efficient and centralized disk-based approach, backup windows have shrunk from 18-36 hours using tape to only 4 hours, and Microsoft Exchange backups decreased from 12 hours to 4-12 minutes. Recovery times also have improved dramatically, now taking just minutes versus 3-7 days to recover from tape.

Kosier says, "Basically, we've gone from a complex system where we would do full backups one day and incrementals the next, to a really simple EMC Avamar solution where we back up everything daily. The backups are much faster so we've reduced the impact on our production operations. And our storage requirements have gone down with so much redundant data taken out of the mix."

EMC has enabled Hard Rock to keep pace with expansion and support of its current systems without significantly expanding its hardware footprint or adding IT personnel.

"In Las Vegas, everything moves quickly," notes Kosier. "A three-year construction project anywhere else takes half the time here. With EMC, we're a lot more flexible and responsive. We were able to get everything moved over to Avamar and train our people in a week. And it only takes a few minutes to add a new client - virtual or physical - to Avamar."

In addition, Hard Rock uses the EMC SourceOne information governance solution to archive emails from its EMC CLARiiON production system to EMC Centera for long-term, cost-effective archiving. By archiving the content to Centera, Hard Rock was able to recoup primary storage space as well as reducing costs and risks associated with e-discovery requests.

"As our business has grown, we've received more requests from our legal department to produce old emails," says Kosier "EMC has saved us a ton of time and cost over the last year. I can now do email investigations in about five minutes."

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