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GPA Case Study

Smaller IT Organizations Face Unique Support Challenges

Mission-critical systems can be found in all sizes of organizations. GPA’s database systems drive their business, but their environment’s size didn’t justify the costs of a full-time resource and the extra costs associated with hiring one including recruiting, HR administration, benefit plan contributions, 401K and retirement plan contributions as well as contributions to Medicare, Social Security and Unemployment.

In addition, consistency of support is also a challenge for smaller shops. GPA understood that a single- threaded resource would not be able to provide them with the constant coverage their systems required. They were aware that support personnel need to take vacation, sick and training days. The administrator’s resulting unavailability during those times would jeopardize support continuity and consistency. In addition, GPA also understood that support personnel who are always on call with no downtime are prone to becoming frustrated and eventually move on to other positions.

Ensuring Critical System Availability Can be Cost Prohibitive for Many Small Businesses

When a mission-critical application becomes unavailable, it can threaten the survivability of the organization. The financial impact of downtime is not the only issue that faces companies with critical application failures. Loss of customer goodwill, bad press, idle employees and legal penalties (lawsuits, fines, etc.), must also be considered. The impact on a small business can be catastrophic.

Respondents to a CA Technologies Survey of 200 small businesses stated that, on average, their organizations experienced 14 hours of system downtime per year. Fifty percent of the respondents replied that the outages damaged their business reputation with 18% describing the impact as “very damaging.” In addition, the survey respondents estimated that their businesses lost an average of $55,000.00 per year due to critical system unavailability.

A DTI/PricewarehouseCoopers study also reinforces the negative impact that data loss has on small businesses. The study’s report showed that 7 out of 10 SMBs that experience major data loss go out of business within 1 year. In addition, a Carbonite sponsored survey of 1,000 small business IT professionals found that 45% of the respondents stated that their organization experienced a data loss, which resulted in an average of nearly $9,000 in recovery fees.

The challenge for many small businesses is that they cannot incur the product and labor costs required to install, maintain and administer the monitoring systems required to ensure their database environments are highly available, easily recoverable and performing as expected.

GPA Investigates Alternatives to In-House Staffing and Consultants

GPA began to investigate support alternatives. Their goal was to choose a cost-effective solution that ensured their systems received the highest quality support possible and were effectively monitored to safeguard their availability and performance. They understood that although their environment didn’t justify hiring a full-time employee, their database-driven applications were critical to their business and required expert support.

GPA began to recognize that remote DBA services provide a cost-effective, viable alternative to in- house staffing and consultants. GPA was also aware that internal personnel and consultants didn’t come prepackaged with a service delivery engine that includes monitoring systems, work request portals and a fully-staffed, 24x7x365 database operations center. GPA performed an analysis of leading remote DBA services providers, compiled a short list of competitors and selected RDX as their vendor.

GPA Selects RDX’s Full Support Option as a Cost-Effective Solution

RDX worked with GPA to estimate the amount of time required to support their environment and agreed upon a block of hours that was far less than a 160 hour Full-Time Equivalent (FTE). In addition, RDX’s flexible offering allowed GPA to tailor a monitoring and administrative service package that met their unique support requirements.

RDX assigned a primary DBA to GPA that matched the database products GPA deployed, features utilized and their corporate personality profile. RDX’s offering guaranteed the support continuity that GPA was looking for. RDX Primary DBAs automatically come with assigned secondary support professionals who would intimately know GPA’s environment. GPA’s RDX support team would always be there when needed.

GPA Leverages RDX’s Service Delivery Engine

In addition to expert DBA talent, one hourly rate provided GPA with access to RDX’s Database Operations Center that is fully staffed around-the-clock. In addition, GPA was able to leverage RDX’s ServiceNow application for work requests, Secret Server for secure credential storage and SolarWinds for database and operating system monitoring.

GPA also gained access to RDX’s Database Operations Center (DOC) team. RDX’s DOC team guaranteed GPA 15-minute response times (in their system working) for all critical issues. The DOC team consists of dedicated professionals who are trained in database administration, monitoring, problem pattern identification, problem prevention and quick problem resolution. RDX’s DOC team customizes event identification, notification, escalation and resolution procedures to the customers’ servers, databases, application jobs and specific return codes. GPA was able to benefit from a 100% customized monitoring solution.

“RDX’s monitoring services have alerted us to situations which would have interrupted operations for extended periods if not taken care of immediately.”

Stu Farnam, GPA

RDX DOC and Primary DBAs First Trial by Fire During GPA’s Busiest Week of Year

Seasonal business owners face unique challenges. Their ability to survive and grow is dependent upon a few short months when the majority of their revenue is generated. The computing systems their business depends on during peak seasons have to be available and performing as expected. High workloads are the norm, not the exception, during peak seasonal periods.

Early in the relationship with GPA, an unforeseen and catastrophic disk array failure affected a critical business application. RDX’s DOC team immediately identified the issue and notified GPA of the problem.

“There is one situation in particular in which RDX provided us with exceptional service. One of our production servers hosting one SQL Server went down hard due to a failure in a disk array. Our business is highly seasonal and this failure occurred during the busiest week of the year.

RDX monitoring alerted me to the failure, which occurred over a weekend. We migrated to new server and storage hardware over the weekend and engaged with RDX on Monday morning to start restoring the database.

Although our DBA at RDX could have handed the case over to the next shift, he elected to continue to work with us until we were back online and in production. Our RDX DBA had worked for 24 hours straight to get us back up and running. Since we do not run production over the weekend, this outage only cost us a bit over one day of peak production, due in large part to RDX’s involvement.“

"Needless to say, we are extremely satisfied and committed to RDX"

Stu Farnam, GPA

GPA Achieves Their Goal of Cost-Effective, High Quality Database Support

By utilizing RDX, GPA was able to achieve their goal of providing high quality database support for their critical, database-driven applications at a cost that was less than a full-time employee or on-site consultant. RDX's offering guaranteed GPA with support continuity and provided them with immediate access to the skills they needed at an affordable price.

The relationship with RDX also provided GPA with access to a robust service delivery engine that includes industry-leading software packages such as Secret Server's password vault for secure credential storage, SolarWinds for robust end-to-end enterprise monitoring and ServiceNow for work requests and time reporting. GPA was able to leverage the benefits of RDX's software packages as well as the monitoring and problem resolution services provided by a 24x7x365 Database Operations Center.

About RDX

RDX is the pioneer of remote data infrastructure services having offered these services since 1994. For over two decades, RDX has helped hundreds of companies lower support costs while increasing database performance and availability. RDX provides customers with peace of mind knowing their environments are administered by expert professionals utilizing industry-leading SSAE16 Type II best practices. RDX's staff is backed by a monitoring and support infrastructure that has been continuously improved and enhanced over its 20-year history. RDX recently achieved its sixth SSAE16 Type II Certification and its fourth PCI-DSS Compliance in Q1 of 2016.

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