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Derek Devernoe @ WAFS
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I should add that we take tapes offsite every day, alternating between east and west of orlando, and we get offsite tapes shipped to us from the branches monthly, and we keep tapes in fire retardent media safes in the house. We also leave tapes at the hardened colocated datacenter every week. Some designers also manually back up thier drawings to DVD or CD, and sometimes USB flash drives while they are working on jobs. The other concern is encrypting the data on these laptops, because they could be stolen. We are currently researching the best way to do this for the masses. Anyone have any experience to share with doing that?
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2006 on Save Us at The H-Factor
Wow, the cost has come down quite a bit since I priced it out, like 5 years ago :) But of course we were looking for a 10+ user license then...
Toggle Commented Nov 1, 2006 on Zooooommmm at The H-Factor
WebX works fairly well for your situation, but like all other things there can be issues with it. I *have* seen vendors include VNC with thier setup for this same purpose but of course has its qwirks as well, and security issues. Internally we use Dameware Utilities which includes a mini remote control service we load on the PCs. But in your case you don't have ownership of the machines so you cannot do that, and instead will have to go to the expensive WebX/Go2MyPc sc3enario. Good luck with that!
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2006 on Zooooommmm at The H-Factor
I work for the IT Department of Wayne Automatic, and felt I should share our experience on this front. Recently Clark Guy hired a consulting firm to do a 'Business Continuance' test on our IT team. We pretended that we lost the top floor of our corporate office, which included all our Ocoee servers, my office, etc. I had to go home and get tapes and the restore data to our (at that time not so robust) co-located servers. We were able to move phone service and faxing (thanks to Co-lo 2 server our VOIP setup) no problem, restore data, access drawings, process payroll, and accounts payable, schedule jobs, basically do most job functions. The test was mostly successful, but it came with some lessons. Noted on the report was that our designers saved the drawings to their local machine, and only periodically, manually backed up the files. This was identified as a potential problem, so I had to come up with a solution. That is why I recently created and implemented an automatic backup procedure for all CAD workstations here at Wayne Automatic. Our standard engineering platform is a laptop, and therefore we like to have the designers take the laptops home with them, on to job sites, etc. to be able to work on their drawings. Because of that, we store the files locally and work from there. The Microsoft implementation of 'Offline files' is very slow, limited, and buggy (people generally hate it) especially when working from home. You see with offline files, the default storage location is on the network (server) if detected. We have our engineers connect thru VPN into our system, so loading and saving drawings over a 1.5/128K DSL connection is excruciatingly slow, let alone dialup access. Procedurally speaking, when a job comes in, it is saved to a fully hardware redundant server (which of course is backed up to tape and synced to our offsite collocation), then the engineer copies them to their local hard drive to do the work. When done they copy them manually to the server and delete off their hard drive. But you cannot count on them to always do this, and there is definitely potential for data loss. Thus the need to develop our own custom solution. How it works: Basically there is a group policy with the Win2K3 AD Organizational unit of 'Engineers' set to run logon and logoff scripts. When the cad laptop logs on our LAN it will back up the entire contents of the drawings folder (or other local folder structure, the app is customizable) to the designers folder on a server location I call cadsync. The cadsync contents are view only for all so drawings can be shared if people are out of the office and access is needed to what they were working on. Only the original designer can modify the files syncing with their machine, this is to prevent multiple version issues if someone else messed with the files. For them to do so, they will have to copy to their machine, which of course will sync with their folder. Depending on the designer, PC, number of jobs they are working on, etc. this process takes from 5-30 seconds when they log on or off - not enough to really slow them down - to them it is seamless. We supplement this logon and logoff script with 'AT' or 'Scheduled Tasks' commands to run the sync at 1AM in case they never sign off or on. Every day it syncs, a log file is stored on the server with a listing of all their drawings on the machine at time of sync. When the complete a job, manually copy to the job folder on the server and delete the files off their laptop, the server will delete the files 14 days after they are deleted from the laptop. (This is to protect against the 'oops' human error factor) This is done by a script that runs on the server and compares the current file list to the 14 (+) day old list. It then deletes what is no longer on the laptop - last known to be there 14 days ago. Keep in mind cadsync is simply a temporary storing location, mimicking the drawings directory of a designers PC. This is not where the final files go, it is all temporary JUST for backing up the data automatically. The Cadsync share is on a Hardware RAID-5 array on the server, so we can lose a single disk before we lose that, and we monitor for disk failures remotely. We then back up this temporary location to tape every night, and we also 'synchronize' these drawings to a Co-Located server in a hardened data center every night. This makes it almost impossible to lose a file. Also this co-location setup has an exact replica of all of our servers file shares that is updated nightly, so it ties into our business continuance plan. If we lost a facility I can set up a temporary staging area with laptops in the datacenter (or VPN from home) and give users access to their files from yesterday almost instantly. I am currently also working towards backing up our branch servers using Acronis True Image (not the data file shares, just the OS, and Exchange server), then restoring them to a VMWare based virtual network server, so if a server goes offline, I restore the most current backup, and the server can be online in our collocation fully functional and ready to go - albeit with yesterdays data. I hope to get this rolling soon, I have tested it, it works, just space, time, and connection speeds for the branches are some hurdles to cross. Perhaps this will be online next year. We also keep a 'spare' laptop so in case a machine dies, we can 'loan' it out until we fix the original PC. Of course we end up having to allocate this when a new person is hired with no notice, so we TRY and keep this, but don't always have a spare available. Also depending on the designer we also have the AutoCAD auto save function set for 5-10 minutes, and we also use the crappy Microsoft 'offline files' for their 'My Documents' folder, so other files are saved on the double backed up server as well. Their e-mail is Outlook 2003 running in cached mode, so the e-mail is stored on the server with a copy on the local machine - so that cannot be lost. So that is what we do here for now. Like anything we could change direction next week, but this should stay for quite some time to come. Derek
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2006 on Save Us at The H-Factor