Publisher transforms storage architecture

Customer Success Stories

Connected® from Iron Mountain gives McGraw-Hill optimum mix of central and virtual data storage and back up

29 October 20158 min
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Connected® from Iron Mountain gives McGraw-Hill optimum mix of central and virtual data storage and back up


Local storage of end-user files was not only uncertain and insecure, but also caused costly headaches for the IT department


Connected® Backup for PC and Mac allowed McGraw-Hill to adopt a new user-centric storage strategy


Both the IT team and end users get peace of mind and stability, while demands upon central resources are mitigated


McGraw-Hill Education is part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, a leading global information services provider founded in 1888. Using traditional materials, online learning, and multimedia tools, McGraw-Hill Education empower the growth of teachers, professionals, and students of all ages. It is also a leading provider of reference and trade publishing for the medical, business, engineering, and other professions.


As in many large organisations, McGraw-Hill Education Europe had historically adopted a data centre focused IT strategy. In terms of user data backups, its people were expected to save local copies of their files on disks or other media. Even when the more conscientious among them had taken the trouble to back up their data, the approach was still exposed to problems – a failure to get a good burn to CD, a chair rolled accidentally over a disk, the wrong files copied, or back-up files not readily available when needed. Mick Symonds, Director of IT for EMEA at McGraw-Hill Education, takes up the story: “At the end of the day, it was an IT issue. We were backing up all the data residing in our back office servers, and we needed to treat laptop and desktop data the same way. If someone lost data, they were wasting IT resources – their disk crashed and then we were taking up our time trying to recover that data, looking for old copies and old backups that might have existed six months before.”

“This Connected solution brought a huge amount of stability to a previously unstable environment, because it secured all the data. And that’s the critical thing.”


Mick Symonds
Director of IT for EMEA
McGraw-Hill Education Europe


What was needed was a centralised solution that would give the IT department control over unstructured user data. Following a market survey, McGraw-Hill Europe chose Connected® Backup for PC and Mac from Iron Mountain. This service automatically backs up computers following a customer-defined schedule. Data is encrypted and transmitted securely over the internet to geographically separated Iron Mountain data centres. Patented technologies allow backups to complete quickly, even over dial-up connections, without the need for user intervention. Mick Symonds says: “Until we looked at Connected, there had never really been anything that so successfully enabled IT to secure desktop and remote-based data in a uniform way.” During pilot testing, end users were given vivid demonstrations of the power of Connected data protection. Mick Symonds would go to people’s machines and ask which of their files were the most critical. Then he would press the delete key. Mick recalls: “And as they started to turn white, I would quickly retrieve the files from the Connected server. We made instant believers with those demonstrations.”

Soon after their Connected solution was implemented, McGraw-Hill Europe realised that secure local storage allowed a rethink as to where user data should reside. As the Connected solution was deployed, the IT team worked closely with users. The team asked questions to identify the data on which users worked alone, the data they shared widely and the data they shared within their respective workgroups. Mick Symonds says: “We began pushing user data back out to the desktop. The data that’s clearly theirs, such as email, we secure at the desktop.”

Automatic, reliable and secure data protection was the cornerstone of this new storage model. It centralised control of what had been unstructured user data. Mick Symonds confirms: “Having Connected in place provides us with peace of mind, makes us feel comfortable with the fact that users have much more data within their control, because the good thing is, now, we also have control.” Explicitly making user data the responsibility of IT requires a change in thinking. “Everyone talks about the enterprise, but then they focus only on the back end side of it,” Mick continues. “We try to view the enterprise as a whole and consider every node.”

“Having Connected in place provides us with peace of mind.”

Mick Symonds
Director of IT for EMEA
McGraw-Hill Education Europe


It wasn’t long before the investment in user data protection started showing returns. “In addition to the peace of mind we’ve found with data protection, Connected reduces the amount of time it takes for us to build and deploy new machines to existing users,” says Mick Symonds. “For example, one of our employees opened the overhead locker on a flight and his machine came crashing out. Since we had all of his data backed up, we were able to reinstall all his files in a new machine within an hour.”

The greatest benefit to the organisation has been the new found capacity to store user data – especially email – safely beyond the data centre. “The real godsend with Connected is the ability to effectively secure data outside our file servers and quickly redeploy that data wherever it is needed – for any reason,” says Mick Symonds. “We can set flags and triggers to alert us to the last time each machine was backed up, to ensure that all of our backups are completed every night.”

Securing user data locally, beyond the data centre, allows McGraw-Hill to take advantage of the multi-gigabyte hard drives found in today’s PCs and laptops. “Having Connected enables us to reliably store user data beyond our data centre, so our back-end systems don’t bear the whole burden,” says Mick Symonds. Beyond the benefits of protecting PCs and reducing the load on enterprise servers, the Connected solution brings assurance to Mick Symonds and his staff by taking what was unstructured and vulnerable company information and putting it under the control of IT.

“I think every IT professional understands the need to back up important data that resides in locations outside their servers,” concludes Mick Symonds. “This Connected solution brought a huge amount of stability to a previously unstable environment, because it secured all the data. And that’s the critical thing.”

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