Microsoft Windows Server System
Partner Solution Case Study
/ / Backup Solution Slashes Data Recovery Time, Reduces IT Work by 75 Percent
Country or Region:United States
Industry:High Tech & Electronics
Partner Profile
Sonasoft creates point-and-click backup and recovery solutions for Microsoft® SQL Server™, Microsoft Exchange Server, and Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003. The San Jose, California, firm has 20 employees.
Business Situation
Data backup and recovery are more important than ever to companies, but tape-based solutions are expensive, cumbersome, and time consuming for busy IT staffs.
Sonasoft solutions provide disk-to-disk backup and are targeted at popular Microsoft applications. The solutions simplify use and increase backup/recovery speeds.
Fast, no-headache data recovery
75 percent increase in IT staff productivity
Reduced tape and storage costs
Doubled availability
Better regulatory compliance / “If an employee loses a mailbox, calendar, or single e-mail, or even if an entire database or server fails, all it takes is a few mouse clicks to recover everything.”
Steven Wang, Director of Network Engineering, iMedica
After the September 11 terrorist attacks, data backup and recovery received a great deal of attention from IT professionals. Independent software vendor Sonasoft jumped on what it saw as a huge market need and created a suite of automated disk-to-disk backup and recovery solutions for Microsoft® SQL Server™ and Microsoft Exchange Server. By targeting specific applications and using disk rather than tape storage, Sonasoft was able to create fast, easy-to-use solutions. One happy customer is iMedica, a provider of electronic medical record solutions. By deploying Sonasoft products, iMedica has been able to reduce data recovery from hours to minutes and deliver welcome peace of mind to IT staff and workers. System availability has doubled because of the fast data restores, and routine backup jobs are 75 percent more efficient.


Data backup and recovery have always been important, but, after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, interest in backup and disaster recovery solutions picked up worldwide. With the average hourly cost of downtime estimated to be between U.S.$50,000 and $2 million (InfoStor, February 2002), the consequences of an incomplete backup or failed recovery can be debilitating to a business.

Sonasoft of San Jose, California, was founded in 2002 for the purpose of providing software-based point-and-click solutions that speed and simplify the backup and recovery processes. The company’s SonaSafe for Microsoft® SQL Server™ and SonaSafe for Microsoft Exchange Server are disk-to-disk solutions, meaning that they eliminate costly tape drives from the backup equation. They’re also application-specific, which allowed Sonasoft to create very fast, easy-to-use solutions that are well integrated into the target applications.

Sonasoft customer iMedica, of Mountain View, California, is a leading provider of electronic health-record solutions. Its flagship product, PhysicianSuite, was designed by a team of physicians to improve practice performance and communication between doctors, staff, and insurance providers. Backing up company data and recovering lost e-mail messages and other valuable documents were just a small part of the overall responsibility of the firm’s IT staff—but these tedious tasks required inordinate amounts of time.

“When salespersons call saying they have just lost their calendar or inbox, they’re not just upset; they’re beside themselves,” says Steven Wang, Director of Network Engineering for iMedica. “Our small IT staff of 2 people needed to support 25 servers, 35 desktops, and the company network, and also help with customer support issues. Backup and recovery issues were eating up way too much time.”

For example, when Wang received a panicked call reporting lost e-mail messages or a calendar, he or his cohort had to drop everything and spend an hour or more locating the appropriate backup tape and navigating a tedious restore procedure.

Routine backup of business data stored in SQL Server 2000 databases (approximately 20 gigabytes) and Exchange Server folders (approximately 28 gigabytes) was also time-consuming. “We used the built-in Microsoft Windows Server™ 2003 scheduled backup capability and Veritas to back up data to tape drives,” Wang says. “But tapes were getting more expensive, while disk prices were coming down. We wanted a solution that cost less and was easier to use.”


Before Sonasoft founders sat down at the drawing table to map out a product in 2002, they performed in-depth market studies to determine their target markets. “We could have developed solutions for Oracle, IBM, Linux, UNIX, or other environments,” says Dr. Vas Srinivasan, Vice President of Marketing for Sonasoft. “But we saw that Microsoft products were becoming more robust and more popular in businesses of all sizes. Our research showed that SQL Server 2000 use was growing at a rate of 25 percent and that Exchange Server was being used for more than e-mail. It’s also being used as a document repository and collaboration system. These Microsoft applications are mission-critical to companies that use them, and their installed bases are huge. It was a very easy business decision to focus on Microsoft.” Exchange Server 2003 communication and collaboration server, SQL Server 2000, and Windows Server 2003 operating system are all part of Windows Server System™ integrated server software.

Sonasoft developers also found the Microsoft .NET Framework to be very flexible and easy to use, which expedited product development and helped the company get to market quickly with competitive solutions. “Using Microsoft development tools probably doubled our overall productivity over competing solutions,” says Bilal Ahmed, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering for Sonasoft.

The Sonasoft SonaSafe products are software-only solutions that run on any Microsoft Windows Server 2003–based server. They provide automated disk-to-disk backup and recovery using an easy-to-use point-and-click interface. A network administrator can manage multiple databases through a single console and apply single-click recovery commands. Sonasoft also produces a disaster recovery solution through intelligent standby capability that allows data to be backed up on any remote target server in any location as often as once per minute.

“The standardization that Microsoft has implemented across its Windows Server System products has helped ISVs [independent software vendors] create products that work without modification on any [Microsoft] Windows®-certified hardware,” Ahmed says. “This simplifies our development efforts, speeds installation for our customers, and simplifies support. It also opens up huge markets for us.”

iMedica selected SonaSafe because of its disk-to-disk approach to backup and its specialization in Microsoft SQL Server and Exchange Server. “With our skeletal IT staff, we don’t have the luxury of time for backups and recovery,” Wang says. “We found SonaSafe to be far easier and faster to use than Veritas tape backups.”

iMedica deployed the SonaSafe products in about an hour and used the built-in task scheduler to schedule automatic backups of SQL Server databases and Exchange Server folders. During backup, all relevant backup information is accumulated and made available in comprehensive reports. This eliminates the need to manually record this data during each backup process.


Since implementing the Sonasoft solution, iMedica has been able to automate the entire backup process, reducing backup times by 75 percent and freeing IT staff hours for more important activities such as customer support. The easy, sub-minute data recovery made possible by SonaSafe has palpably increased the productivity and peace of mind of both IT staff and employees.

Fast, No-Headache Data Recovery

“Where SonaSafe really shines is in its recovery capability,” Wang says. “If an employee loses a mailbox, calendar, or single e-mail message, or even if an entire database or server fails, all it takes is a few mouse-clicks to recover everything.” Wang simply opens the graphical SonaSafe console, and the application automatically determines which files need to be restored and quickly performs the recovery from stored backup data to internal hard disks. There’s no need to hunt for backup takes or determine the correct restore path.

“One of our sales managers recently wiped out his calendar due to a configuration error when syncing his cell phone to Exchange Server,” Wang says. “SonaSafe saved the day. It took me about five minutes to restore his calendar; with a tape-based solution, it would have taken an hour or more.”

The dramatic speedup in recovery not only returns meaningful chunks of time to Wang and his other IT staff colleague by eliminating frantic data hunts, but it also restores a considerable measure of sanity to their days. “Before SonaSafe, I knew every day that I would face one or more firefights related to data loss,” Wang says. “My mind was never at home; I always knew that something was going to happen. Today, I seldom get called after hours to restore data. The value of peace of mind is immeasurable; I know that SonaSafe is going to be there for me.”

75 Percent Increase in IT Staff Productivity

Automated SonaSafe backups and restores have reduced IT hours for these tasks at iMedica by 75 percent. “With the time savings that SonaSafe is providing, I have more time to complete upgrade projects, help customers, create new capabilities such as collaboration, maintain the network, and so forth,” Wang says. “In the past, if I had a month-long project, I would allow three months because of all the data recovery-

related interruptions I knew that I wouldhave.”

The savings have been so significant that iMedica has been able to redeploy its second IT staff member to other responsibilities, especially helping new customers get up and running with the iMedica PhysicianSuite software. Today, Wang single-handedly supports 65 employees and a growing customer base, whereas in the previous tape-based backup environment, two IT staff members were required to support 35 employees and far fewer customers.

Reduced Tape and Storage Costs

By reducing its dependence on magnetic tape, iMedica estimates that it has reduced its tape and tape-drive costs by $700 annually. Also, built-in high-speed data compression features in SonaSafe reduce storage costs at iMedica by 70 percent.

Doubled System Availability

SonaSafe has doubled the uptime and system availability of SQL Server and Exchange Server systems at iMedica because of the ease of restoring failed servers. “Because of the rapid recovery made possible by SonaSafe, our server recovery time is cut in half,” Wang says. “Instead of a full day to restore a failed server, we now spend three or four hours. And there’s absolutely no loss of data.”

Better Regulatory Compliance

Companies in the healthcare industry must comply with stringent governmental regulations related to the confidentiality, transferability, and security of patient data. iMedica encourages its customers to use Sonasoft backup solutions to help meet these regulations. “Sonasoft helps our customers backup patient data more easily, which helps them meet HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] and other requirements,” Wang says. “Many of our customers depend on Sonasoft as much as we do.”

Microsoft Windows Server System

Microsoft Windows Server System integrated server infrastructure software is designed to support end-to-end solutions built on the Windows Server operating system. Windows Server System creates an infrastructure based on integrated innovation, Microsoft's holistic approach to building products and solutions that are intrinsically designed to work together and interact seamlessly with other data and applications across your IT environment. This helps you reduce the costs of ongoing operations, deliver a more secure and reliable IT infrastructure, and drive valuable new capabilities for the future growth of your business.

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