The following is a case study about a manufacturer of industrial explosives and accessories that desired to improve its data backup and disaster recovery processes. Thanks to the implementation of FalconStor Software’s storage virtualization, Austin Powder dramatically improved its backup of applications and reduced server deployment to less than one hour.

by Chris Benco, network administrator at Austin Powder


Austin Powder is the second oldest manufacturing company in Ohio. The company manufactures a full line of industrial explosives and accessories and provides blasting services to customers throughout North America and around the world. Austin Powder’s main plants are in Ohio, Texas, and Mexico. Its products are distributed throughout the U.S. and Canada in 65 company-owned stores.

The Problem

Austin Powder is a manufacturer seeking to protect its data while minimizing operational expenses. The IT department is responsible for business-critical applications, including Sybase and Microsoft SQL Server databases and e-mail. Austin Powder needed a solution that would be manageable by its small IT staff of 10 people, who are responsible for supporting 1,000 users. The company’s goal was to virtualize its data storage in order to increase efficiency and decrease costs, improve its data backup and disaster recovery (DR) processes, and lay the foundation for a remote DR site in the near future. Additionally, the manufacturer sought to avoid vendor lock-in, purchasing the best storage arrays available at the lowest cost. 


Virtualization offers a solution addressing each of the company’s goals. The digital revolution has led to a proliferation of data. This has resulted in separate islands of storage in the data center, each requiring independent management and protection policies, complicating storage administration. This complexity results in resources that are either under-utilized or over-utilized, which is both a waste of power and money. Virtualization allows manufacturers to consolidate storage resources into one virtual pool for simple and centralized management with flexibility, reducing primary storage capacity requirements and cutting storage capital investment. Additional benefits include the ability to leverage low-cost hardware with data services while migrating data between tiers, thus minimizing cost. Virtualization increases day-to-day operational efficiency of manufacturers and reduces overhead costs, allowing for quick recovery.
Austin Powder considered virtualization solutions from 11 vendors, including Dell EqualLogic, and ultimately chose FalconStor® Network Storage Server (NSS) because of the flexibility, customization, and control it provides. Virtual server environments are exceptionally well-served by virtualized storage. With storage virtualization, Austin Powder can quickly and easily create a new disk resource to house virtual machine files, and disk resources are easily re-allocated to different servers or shared among servers to facilitate virtual machine high-availability (HA) operations that require shared disk. 

Austin Powder uses storage virtualization for its primary storage area network where the manufacturer stores three terabytes of data. In deploying these solutions, the combined virtualization and SAN technologies reduced server deployment time from over a week to under one hour. Additionally performance has increased. Austin Powder has improved its data backup process to recover from any fault, from a single lost file to the recovery of an entire machine with applications up and-running, often within just minutes of beginning the process. 

This new approach to data protection has enhanced IT operations for Austin Powder and dramatically improved and increased business operation efficiencies. Reducing downtime and providing constant access to business data and applications has a direct impact on the top line, as well as the bottom line of an organization. 

Chris Benco is a network administrator for the Austin Powder Company.  With over 14 years experience, Chris is an award winning network engineer and project manager that has earned a wide range of IT certifications including most recently the PMI Institutes PMP certification.