FlexGen PC Data Backups

FlexGen Power Systems provides energy storage solutions with their revolutionary FlexGen HybridOS platform. Oak City IT worked with FlexGen to create an agile PC Data Backup solution.

“One size fits all” is the biggest lie. It should read as “one size someone, somewhere, probably.” And just like a comfy sweater, your organization’s IT needs may fit a bit differently than others.

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Unique Background, Unique Needs

Oak City IT consulted FlexGen during rapid growth as a startup pivoting into leading as a provider of green energy storage solutions. As an agile engineering company FlexGen needed agile solutions for their IT systems. Keep in mind you may need something different. We partnered to develop a system that allowed rapid deployment of new PC’s to employees in only 5-15 minutes!

Don’t Re-Invent the Wheel

We used existing systems that FlexGen already owned, were trained, and trusted. FlexGen’s leadership aimed to stay agile by streamlining any on-premises infrastructure and relying on cloud technology for flexibility.

Employee Data

Understanding our goals, we developed a robust while lean and agile system. Data on individual employee PC’s were treated as ephemeral working copies. We safely did this by having all employees sync important data to their company Dropbox, securely stored in the cloud. For the computer engineers we worked with the DevOps team to establish github repositories migrating from the dated subversion repositories.

Software and Configurations

After taking care of the data, what about the PC’s software? Did we really want to manually re-install every app every time? In fact we couldn’t do that. We worked with another IT service provider that had an Acronis backup solution in place. Acronis provides wonderful tools for backups, but they weren’t flexible enough for FlexGen’s needs. FlexGen employees echoed: “It works for everything else but there’s that one program we all install manually because it’s easier.”

Compare the manually setup PC’s that took around 4-8 work hours and occasionally longer. FlexGen would often require agility to hire a new employee and have them start work in a couple weeks. It’s hard to carve out a day of our work time for each PC setup. Cloud systems tend to bottleneck when deploying large amounts of data. Thus we became convinced that there would need to be an on-premises solution for our software and configuration deployment.

New Life to a Trusty Old Server

FlexGen had an existing server that ran an aging version of Windows Server. We could have upgraded, but we decided to save that cost and headache. Instead, we found robust FOSS solutions for no additional license fees. FOSS stands for Free Open Source Software which is free as in freedom and free as no cost.

We found a great system that was capable of deploying images and prepared several template images ready to go. Images are a snapshot of all the software on a PC including installed apps and configuration. We built images for each their different job roles. FlexGen uses mostly Windows PC’s. Microsoft’s Volume offered a fraction of the cost and we could deploy images to all PC’s. This system aided updates for Windows 10 when Windows 7 was approaching EOL (End Of Life).

Unique Needs Meet Unique Solutions

We refurbished FlexGen’s Windows Server and installed linux and FOG Project for the imaging. The FOG server can deploy images with the latest version of Windows 10 and everything already installed. And it runs fast! For example on FlexGen’s network the server can deploy an image at speeds over 4 GB/min. Many images we created ranged in size from 20 GB to 35 GB. In summary we could deploy a fully installed and configured system in about 5 minutes!

FlexGen PC Data Backup Solution Results

Let me repeat that: we got new PC setup from 4-8 work hours down to 5 minutes! That’s a 99% reduction in real-world time to complete a new PC setup!

Added Benefits

Employees regularly synced or pushed any business critical work data to Dropbox and GithHub. Whenever there was an issue on their PC that couldn’t be fixed quickly, we could deploy a fresh image. Their PC was ready before they could finish a coffee break.

FOG server image multicast

If anyone been compromised by ransomware, then we could have used the multicast option on the FOG server and deployed all the PC’s then syncing up with cloud data. The whole process for the organization could have easily completed within one hour or less. Though it never happened, we were ready in advance to recover from such disasters which are increasingly common. Thanks in no small part to our cybersecurity plan implemented for FlexGen, but that’s a story for another post. Check out more posts about our security consulting work.

Need help with PC and Data Backups? Contact us today for your free initial consultation!

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