Ontrack Provides Database and Backup Restores After a Flood.

The Situation

Dell Equallogic™, Storage Area Network, VMware ESX base and RAID 10 backup server.

A flash flood in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany in Spring 2016 permeated the walls of a server room in a hobby and art supplies store, severely affecting the IT system.

Vast amounts of water flooded into the server room affecting two Dell devices: an EqualLogic SAN with 96 hard drives and a RAID 10 backup server with 12 hard drives.

The storage capacity of the SAN hard drives was between 300 and 700 gigabytes and the backup server contained 24 terabytes of data. About 30 terabytes of data were lost when the SAN volume and the iSCSI connections for the SAN in a VMware ESX Server were damaged. Due to the importance of the data and that most of it contained critical customer information, an emergency recovery was arranged with Ontrack. Several SAN virtualized LUNs running in a VMware environment were prioritized as critical information, with one of them storing a particularly important Oracle database that needed to be recovered as soon as possible. The client also needed to recover two additional LUNs with important data, as well as all the data on the backup server.

The Solution

After working with the client to assess the data loss and prioritize the data that needed recovering, it was determined that the hard drives in both systems needed to be processed simultaneously. All the hard drives were picked up by Ontrack and delivered to the data recovery lab in Boblingen, Germany.

Upon arrival, the hard drives were initially processed in a cleanroom environment to safely remove dirt and inspect the full extent of the damage. The data on each hard drive and its server location were also documented at this time.

Fortunately, the drives in the SAN had no mechanical problems and could be read properly. However, some of the drives from the backup server were faulty and these had to be processed further in the cleanroom in order to extract copies of the data.

The SAN data recovery was very complex, as the water damage interrupted the connection to the VMware ESX Server and the power supply while in operation. This meant that the mapping links to the EqualLogic SAN and the LUNs in the VMFS datastores (as well as the Oracle database and other files) were heavily corrupted.

To perform the recovery, Ontrack’s proprietary data recovery software tools were required to reconstruct the system and the file structures in order to get to the actual files. However, reassembling the Dell backup server was relatively easy since it hardly experienced any data corruption.

The Resolution

The engineers from Ontrack’s Boblingen data recovery lab succeeded in reconstructing the main points of both affected devices so that the data could be accessed again, including the critical Oracle database and the full backup.

Overall, the customer was very satisfied with the work of the recovery experts from Ontrack. The recovery efforts were also mediated by the Dell Support Team so the data could be restored into a new storage system, as the information required was urgent and needed as soon as the recovery was complete.