California EMA Taps IBM to Maintain State-Wide Emergency Services

With built-in intelligence to reduce data transfer, a new solution speeds Agency’s backup of virtual machines.

IBM today announced that the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) is gaining efficiency and saving costs in storing state-wide data by using a smarter solution from IBM and business partner Pancetera that reduces the amount of data required to be backed up by 75 percent and accelerates backup to minutes rather than hours.

Cal EMA was established in 2009 combining the Office of Emergency Services and Office of Homeland Security to manage the coordination of overall state agency response to major disasters in support of local government. The Agency is responsible for assuring the state’s readiness to respond to and recover from all hazards – natural, manmade, war-caused emergencies and disasters – and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response, recovery and hazard mitigation efforts.

As such, Cal EMA has a variety of data it has to support and archive for decades, including information on physical assets across the state, reimbursement for damages, aid packages, critical infrastructure and real-time data collected by satellite across California’s 58 counties.  Increasingly, the Agency is consolidating and managing this data on virtual machines.

"Our mission is to be working when everyone and everything isn’t – in fires, floods, earthquakes, landslides and manmade crises – so we needed a backup and recovery solution that can give us timely, reliable data," said Lovell Hopper, manager, Infrastructure Services, Cal EMA.  "Our new backup combination allows us to master our virtual and physical infrastructure by backing up data with greater ease and speed."

Cal EMA relies on IBM Tivoli Storage Manager’s centralized, policy-based, enterprise class, data backup and recovery software. Recently the Agency rolled out the virtual storage optimization solution from Pancetera to further extend Tivoli’s capabilities into VMware’s virtual environment. Pancetera software recognizes the Agency’s unique new data that needs to be backed up, eliminating the need to move large amounts of empty space and redundant data.  This has translated to a 75 percent reduction in Cal EMA’s data backup.  It has sped backups in minutes rather than hours for the Agency’s rapidly growing virtual machine infrastructure.

Being able to reduce data is critical in Cal EMA’s virtual environment where a full ‘snapshot’ of the data would require about 15 to 20 terabytes of data to be backed up every time. This process could have impacted the Agency staff’s user experience but with Pancetera’s SmartRead technology, Cal EMA has significantly reduced the I/O load and bandwidth on its storage and network so it can run backups anytime without impacting performance of production systems. Because the combined Tivoli-Pancetera solution requires no staged backups or agents in the virtual machine, it saves Cal EMA the expense of supporting proxy storage while still being able to rely on Tivoli Storage Manager for managing and optimizing (deduplication) the backup and recovery solution.

About 20 percent of Cal EMA’s data is live. The Agency relies on IBM tape storage for archived data on projects years and even decades old. For example, the agency is still responsible for the data on remediation and recovery for the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles.



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