The Strong is the world’s only collections-based museum dedicated
exclusively to play. It houses the most comprehensive collection of
historical play materials anywhere, and provides a multifaceted array
of research, exhibition, and interpretive activities for adults, families,
children, students, teachers, scholars, and collectors the world over.
Robust Enterprise Requires
From a technological perspective, The Strong is a robust enterprise
that requires a highly complex technology infrastructure. A majority
of systems are hosted onsite with applications that include:
• Multiple externally facing and intranet websites
• Financial system
• Admissions and group scheduling system
• Fundraising and membership management system
• Gift shop POS system
• Collections management system
• Dynamic and interactive museum exhibits
• Reporting and analytics system
• Digital materials storage and archiving
Located at opposite ends of the campus, primary and secondary
data centers house machines that are 85% virtualized with large
capacity Network Attached Storage (NAS) units holding over nine
terabytes of business and archival information. IGI met with Ross
Rugaber, Director of Technology at The Strong, to review their
current IT needs, which included an update to their existing data
backup and restore capabilities.
Backing Up the Back Up
The Strong had employed a leading backup product to protect and
preserve its assets, leveraging a wide variety of licensing agents to
cover its SQL databases and Windows systems. But as the amount
of data and number of devices increased, issues of performance and
integrity began to crop up: unreliable backups, inefficient deduplication,
high storage costs, a full backup process that took more than 30 hours,
and an overall loss of confidence in media integrity and restoration.
The Strong was in the process of evaluating their data protection and
preservation strategy when IGI introduced them to Unitrends.
Unitrends and IGI Make It Work Together
“We looked at a number of solutions and Unitrends was the one that caught our attention,” said Rugaber,
“And we certainly haven’t been disappointed. Unitrends delivers crazy fast backups, finishing in minutes
what once took hours. The data integrity is flawless, and we love the intuitive user interface.”
Of equal importance is the system’s efficient backup space utilization, great dedupe and compression capa
bilities, and the best support experience Rugaber has ever had. With IGI coordinating the installation, initial
setup and configuration ran flawlessly. The Unitrends engineers were knowledgeable and well-prepared, and
Rugaber’s team enjoyed unlimited access to internal Unitrends resources throughout the process.
One instance was especially telling. “During installation,” Rugaber recounted, “there were two engineers
addressing different pieces of the setup. At one point, the second engineer entered a new support request
while the first engineer was on the phone with Unitrends. After the first engineer’s issue was resolved, the
Unitrends rep said he that noticed a new ticket had just been entered and offered to address the issue right
then and there since we were already on the phone. I’ve never had that happen before.”
Today, the system is configured to protect an initial 9TB of data with room enough to accommodate anticipated growth for the next three years.
Unitrends Support Protects The Strong’s Investment
Since its installation, Unitrends support has been called on several times, and the team is always there to
ensure the technology is doing what it was designed to do: protect and preserve The Strong’s most valuable
As a result, the organization has averted many potential difficulties before they became truly disastrous.
For example, the Unitrends solution recovered very granular email messages, and an entire physical server
was restored as a virtualized server in just a few hours after a catastrophic hardware failure.
The quality of performance just keeps coming. At this point, restores take less than two minutes from the
time they start to the time of server logon.
The Team Approach
IGI and Unitrends worked closely to meet and exceed The Strong’s expectations through discovery, negotia
tion, facilitation, and technological expertise that enabled everyone involved to drive the project to successful
“IGI brought a best-in-class solution to us with Unitrends,” added Rugaber. “They make a great team.”