Case Study – Jan 2012

IT Engine specialises in disaster recovery planning and execution.
This case study is an example of how we were able to assist a client in January 2012. While we cannot name the client, they have given full permission for IT Engine to use this event for case study purposes..


Summary of Client

  • Public facing community project-based entity
  • From 6 staff, and up to 50 at peak project times.

Case Study – Jan 2012

September 2011

When IT Engine engaged the client, the infrastructure consisted of two physical servers: a Small Business Server (SBS) 2003 and a Terminal Server – there were four key issues at hand once an initial site inspection had been completed:

  • The warranty has expired on both servers, presenting risk in the event of a hardware failure;
  • Microsoft Exchange (email) had reached its upper limit and the email was failing regularly. As this is a media intensive organization, not being able to receive large graphics files was causing productivity issues;
  • There had not been a reliable and complete backup for three weeks and the backup software was out-of-date presenting a huge risk to the business;
  • Unsupported operating systems: the suite of products in SBS 2003 were out of mainstream support.

Immediate steps were taken, performing maintenance on MS Exchange enabling users to get on with their work, and resolving the backup issues: updating the backup software and reconfiguring it to perform regular backups conforming to best practise.

Additionally, we installed our customised monitoring software to ensure immediate visibility of server performance and backups.

Naturally, IT Engine takes a “due diligence” approach – before beginning any work with a new client, we take a full, complete, and verified backup of the server we are working on.

With the servers out of warranty, we had to make sure that they were able to get through to their major project conclusion in April 2012 as they were unable to replace the server until then – the key reason is that they required stability and did not want any potential disruption until their project had concluded.


January 2012

In the fortnight before the client’s project was to start, a drive failed in the disk array in the SBS Server, corrupting the entire Microsoft Exchange database. Fortunately, IT Engine had a spare drive available and replaced the drive immediately.

We were able to restore the Exchange and set the server to rebuild the disk array. However due to the size of the database and the age of the server, the rebuild took close to 36 hours. No email was available during this time.

Once rebuilt, there were apparent stability issues with the hardware. With project delivery imminent, and to ensure minimal disruption to the client, IT Engine executed its Disaster Recovery Plan.

IT Engine was able to procure a “loaner” server from Hewlett-Packard (HP), significantly reducing stress on the client as there was no capital expenditure required right before their project delivery.



Disaster Recovery Timeline:


  • Disk fails in server (late evening)
  • Alert generated
  • Alert actioned and disk replaced before lunchtime
  • Disk array rebuilt
  • Exchange begins rebuild
  • Exchange continues rebuilding
  • Other server functions available with degraded performance
  • Last check at 11.00 pm, Exchange still rebuilding
  • Engineer confirms Exchange rebuilt at 6:00 a.m.
  • Business as usual for client
  • IT Engine receives loaner server and readies for delivery
  • That evening, server backup ok.
  • Business as usual for client
  • IT Engine installs loaner server onsite
  • Does test recover of last backup to new hardware, which was successful
  • That evening, server backup ok.
  • 7.00 am – IT Engine arrives onsite and begin restoring Thursday’s backup of the old SBS server to the “new” loan server. Client is running exactly the same software, but on newer and more powerful hardware.
  • 12.30 pm – Server restore completed, up and running and the next hour is spent with staff ensuring that printers are working and they were able access all IT resources.
  • 1.30 pm – IT Engine leaves site.

Six weeks later

With the major project completed, the client purchases the loaner server and also upgrades the server software to take advantage of the new hardware.

The upgraded software allows (in particular) a larger email database therefore removing the limits of the previous software.



The success of this Disaster Recovery can be attributed to:

  • The right tools in place;
  • Good supply lines and logistics to deliver the hardware;
  • Building a Disaster Recovery Plan;
  • Recognising when to execute that plan.
  • Engineers that were prepared to work all hours to ensure that there was minimal disruption

Because steps were taken by IT Engine at the beginning of the engagement to ensure there were solid backups and backup systems in place; when there was a hardware and operating system failure there was an immediate plan and path to resolution which ensured a successful outcome for the client and IT Engine.

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