Founded in 1996, AutoNation (NYSE: AN) is the largest automotive retailer in the United States. It provides new and pre-owned vehicles, collision centers, and automotive parts through AutoNation Precision Parts. Headquartered out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the company currently owns and operates over 360 retail operations throughout the U.S with more than 25,000 employees. The company sells and repairs 35 different manufacturer brands and is ranked #145 in the 2019 Fortune 500. For fiscal year 2018, AutoNation recorded revenue of over $21B.

The Challenge

AutoNation has a large IT environment with a primary data center in Denver, Colorado and a secondary disaster recovery (DR) site in Plano, Texas. The company has over 1,300 virtual machines, 200 physical servers, and growing data of 1.2PB that supports retail operations.

Due to the company’s legacy data protection environment, the IT team at AutoNation was experiencing a host of issues, including up to 6,000 backup failures per month requiring a dedicated employee with more than 70 percent time to address constant challenges. Not all applications were supported or protected, and existing storage appliances did not scale, which resulted in expensive forklift upgrades. Backup and recovery costs were growing exponentially and the company needed a scalable solution for modern backup and recovery. In addition, with increased application development in AWS, AutoNation required a hybrid solution with seamless integration.

With a DR site refresh on the horizon, Adam Rasner, Vice President of Technology Operations, challenged his team to come up with a backup and recovery solution to address infrastructure issues and reduce cost. The team began looking at available options, including hyperconverged solutions.

The Solution

The AutoNation IT team evaluated multiple solutions, including Cohesity, Rubrik, and Veritas. After an extensive proof-of-concept (PoC), the team selected Cohesity to be AutoNation’s next-generation, data management platform based on performance, ease of implementation, and lower TCO.

It was key and critical for AutoNation and its go-forward strategy to implement Cohesity to integrate across all environments, including moving data from on-prem to multi-cloud and back to on-prem. With more and more next-generation apps now developed in the cloud, AutoNation will rely more heavily on cloud storage, including AWS. Cohesity’s ability to support backup and recovery, as well as other use cases like file and object across a hybrid environment were instrumental. “Storing multiple terabytes of document management files, SQL logs, and various unstructured data under the same Cohesity UI was a natural choice for us,” Rasner said. “This was key to consolidation of data across our operations.”

The Results

By deploying Cohesity, AutoNation not only reduced complexity and built a highly-efficient backup and recovery environment, but also lowered its TCO. With Cohesity, AutoNation saved 60 percent per terabyte compared to traditional SAN, and has reduced its yearly maintenance costs by 50 percent.

Rasner further explains, “Today most of our apps run on Tier 1, very expensive, high-dollar storage and Cohesity provided a solution to run some of our lower-tier apps at a lower cost. AutoNation has moved multiple applications from NetApp primary storage onto Cohesity, saving significant dollars and freeing up Tier 1 storage for production systems. Cohesity enables our business to move to the next level and differentiate ourselves from the competition. We look forward to expanding our partnership with Cohesity and further leveraging innovative use cases to drive technology efficiencies and cost optimization across multiple lines of business.”

AutoNation reduced overall backup windows by 50 percent and improved replication between data centers. The company also reduced job failure rates by 20 times, transforming efficiency and freeing up staff for other business-critical projects.

From a single pane of glass, the IT team can back up and replicate VMs, applications, and data between both environments. “One of the most significant benefits with Cohesity is the ability to have a single platform for modern backup and recovery, failover, and disaster recovery. Cohesity has given us flexibility to use AWS for backups older than 40 days, as well as legacy applications that are refreshed or refactored,“ states Rasner.

In addition, Cohesity’s ability to provide seamless integration with AWS from a single pane of glass to manage both cloud and on-prem backups was a key benefit. AutoNation can use AWS Glacier for long- term retention, offloading data from appliances to lower cost storage. The company can also backup VMs from on-prem and spin them up in the AWS environment for dev and test or a quick data validation. Being able to take VM snapshots on-prem with Cohesity and bring the VM online in the cloud, delivers what Rasner calls ‘on the fly’ infrastructure capabilities. The ability to spin up AWS EC2 instances from Cohesity backups creates a tremendous amount of flexibility and efficiency for the IT team, as well as cost savings to free up capacity on Cohesity clusters.

Key Benefits

  • Reduced overall backup windows by 50%
  • Saved 60% per TB compared to traditional SAN
  • Reduced its yearly maintenance cost by 50%
  • Reduced job failure rates by 20x

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