Living life in the fast lane is much more than just a metaphor for the racing team of Gorilla Racing. The group meticulously records, monitors and analyzes moment-to-moment data collected at the track to best prepare its 400-horsepower Nissan 350z race car and its two drivers to succeed on the high-speed racing circuit.
Laptops connected to the race car gather a wide variety of key racing information—downloaded directly from the pit at any given racetrack—to be studied later. This includes data on lap speeds, steering wheel position, braking, turns, track conditions and G-forces at work, according to Joe Traut, chief engineer for Gorilla Racing, which is based in Ayer, Mass.
But Gorilla Racing quickly discovered that data is only as good as its accuracy and availability to end users when its needed most.
After some close calls—wherein laptops were damaged or information was not properly synchronized following races—Gorilla Racing hit the pedal, turned to GenXSP LLC and chose the service providers SyncSave managed backup services offering featuring Televaluting software that GenXSP had use of from an OEM deal with Asigra Inc.
Gorilla Racing tested its mettle in 13 races this year as a participant of the Grand-Am Cup series of professional racing events. Each race stretches over about 200 miles and generally takes more than 2.5 hours to complete.
The Nissan 350z is maintained by DWW Motorsports; the race team is Gorilla Racing. The support work is contracted out to DWW, which performs maintenance on the vehicle in its shop. (DWW stands for David W. Woodle, the owner of the shop, noted Traut.)
Gorilla Racing competes in the “grand sport” class of racing, which features very fast cars. The team typically lines itself up against race cars such as the BMW M3, the Porsche 997, the Acura TSX and RSX, and the Chevy Cobalt, to name a few.
Gorilla Racing rebuilt the heart of its race car using its Motec Systems USA engine management system, since circuit rules allow Nissan models to use a completely different engine make. It is the Motec program that feeds data into laptops during races, Traut said.
“Every time we go out in the car [during a race], we can watch all the sensors. When the car comes [into the pit], we can download every single wheel speed, steering angle, throttle input—everything the driver did,” he said. “From the car, we get rpm [data], temperatures on the gear box and temperatures on the rear end.”
This isnt just nice-to-have information. “Thats all pretty important data when you have two drivers because they like to compare driving styles and adjustments,” Traut said. “No two drivers drive the car the same, so its important they can learn from each other.”
The Gorilla Racing team can use the saved data to streamline performance on a specific track, for example, determining how a specific brand of tire handled on the track under a drivers unique steering control. The results are then analyzed to help improve the cars capabilities and performance in time for the next race.
This year, the Grand-Am Cup series took the Gorilla Racing team from Daytona, Fla.; to Virginia; to the Dominican Republic; to the California Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. The rigors of travel and constant repacking of hardware, tools and other materials were deemed too high a risk for laptops carrying sensitive data, Traut said.
“The real problem is, if something happens to the laptop, we cant get that data from the car. We had one time where the computer wasnt stored very well within the trailer, and it was damaged. We had to get another laptop on the road,” Traut said.
Further pushing the envelope to institute a reliable backup offering requiring little or no intervention, Traut said race preparations and time spent at the track took a heavy toll on backup duties once an online connection was made available.
“Youre trying to back up [data] as best you can, but when you have race groups going out and some of the days are quite long, you do what you can. But it just wasnt a foolproof method. Theres so much to worry about—so many lists, making sure you have the right equipment, all the right parts, everything is recorded—there just isnt enough time in the day. It [is] one of those nagging things that will turn around and bite you,” he said.
On the recommendation of a friend within the IT services industry, Traut and his organization kicked the tires on SyncSave, an off-site managed backup services offering from GenXSP. SyncSave also provides managed e-mail, managed security and spyware protection, noted Steven Gorriaran, president of GenXSP, in Providence, R.I.
Effortless Installation with SyncSave
Traut, who described the SyncSave software installation as “no hassle,” said the initial implementation of the managed service was effortless, and any roadblocks encountered during early deployments of the technology were easily corrected.
“Weve had no problem whatsoever. The software is free; you just pay for the storage,” Traut said.
“Getting it up and onboard, they walked me through it the first time. After that the support has been there. When the computer died we called [GenXSP] up, and they walked us through it again, making sure we had everything correct because of encryption and other concerns.”
Gorilla Racing is paying about $15 per gigabyte of storage with the SyncSave service. Data is remotely backed up to GenXSPs data center in Rhode Island, where it is stored on disk and encrypted.
SyncSave is well-suited for employees who frequently work outside of the office, Gorriaran said. But the clientless SyncSave also performs well for companies that implement it at a workgroup or department level, since it performs common file elimination (much like a filter) to cut down on storage during backups.
“[SyncSave] has access to machines that are running in backup. If theres a problem, we get in there [and] we fix it. Its not [a matter of] going hunting and looking for tapes,” said Gorriaran. “Customers want the solution to a problem; they dont care how it gets done. People are just too busy. We can manage the whole [backup operation] for them.”
SyncSave is a rebranded version of Asigra Televaulting. The Televaulting software platform is designed to deliver managed backup services. The software features an associated billing system that uses multiple currencies, offers SLA (service-level agreement) monitoring and management, and can manage backup at many remote or branch offices. Gorriaran said that GenXSP believed Televaulting would fit in nicely with his companys service provider delivery model because of Asigras strong channel experience.
“We knew we wanted to do backup, but do we try it ourselves? Do we OEM it? We found that Asigra was really set up to work with the channel, and thats what we liked about them,” Gorriaran said. “We didnt want to lose control of the account, so we went to them, and they said, Well OEM the software; we had it completely rebranded.”
In terms of rebranding, Eran Farajun, executive vice president for Toronto-based Asigra, said his organization takes care to ensure its technology is well-tuned to a service providers offering, look and namesake.
“We rebrand [our] software for service providers by inserting new artwork into the splash screen when you launch an application. We change the user documentation, and we change the icon trays when youre looking at the desktop,” Farajun said. “That way, SyncSave and the service [look] like [the partners] service, and customers really dont know about Asigra at the end of the day.”
Farajun said Asigras licensing model establishes for GenXSP, as well as other service providers, a low entry barrier to ramp up its business by purchasing licenses based on capacity—much in the same way a customer would buy disk space.
Asigras Responsiveness Keeps Gorilla
Having both good and bad OEM experiences with larger companies, Gorriaran said Asigras approach is a welcome departure from what can become a tangled web of red tape.
“We do a lot of work with much larger companies, and the [OEM] deal can be a nightmare. You almost dread calling. Even if you found a problem in their software, you want to point it out to fix it. You almost dont want to get involved because of the time you spend trying to fix it, as opposed to Asigra who is ready to listen,” Gorriaran said.
GenXSP has seen SyncSave grow beyond its expectations, Gorriaran said, to the point where the company is looking at stretching the capacity of its machines to house bigger amounts of clients data.
That move, Farajun said, will open up GenXSP to bigger customers that will place a greater emphasis on SLAs.
For his part, Farajun said that Asigra is eyeing its own type of expansion in terms of the data protection managed services it will help service providers enable: for example, the safeguarding and retention of firewall configuration files in the case of data loss.
“Weve recognized the appetite for customers to protect network device data. Service providers can grow out and deliver backup services for different types of things for different data. Basically, network edge devices, routers, switches—thats something thats coming down the pipe from us,” he said.
For Gorilla Racing, removing the distraction of worrying that critical data may be lost has a somewhat calming effect during incredibly fast-paced race car pit stops.
“The beauty of [SyncSave] is all of our backup files are immediately downloaded once you use the software. Practically every day were making changes, so when you go … to a hotel room and plug a computer to the Web, the latest and greatest is loaded and stored,” Traut said.
- Customer Gorilla Racing
- Location Ayer, Mass.
- Organizational snapshot Gorilla Racing runs a high- performance Nissan 350z race car in the Grand-Am Cup series in multiple races during the year; the company operates a race shop that helps customers prepare, build, support and maintain a wide assortment of race cars
- Business need Relying heavily on performance, track, diagnostic and driver data collected during Grand-Am Cup races to improve its vehicle efficiency, Gorilla Racing sought a backup offering that would remove the burden of manual backup, as well as the risk of laptop-held data in the event of hardware damage or data loss
- Technology partner GenXSP, of Providence, R.I.
- Recommended solution Gorilla Racing chose GenXSPs SyncSave managed backup services offering to secure its data; the service, which is priced at $15 per gigabyte, is a rebranded version of Asigras Televaulting technology; SyncSave safeguards the race cars sensor data and engine management software housed on multiple laptops by enabling remote backup, eliminating identical files during download via an online connection; the reduced backup size cuts down on costs
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