Crashplan Pro + Drobo Pro = Warm Fuzzy Feeling

We have just recently implemented Crashplan Pro as a primary backup strategy for our Mac machines.  We will slowly be rolling this out to all of our Mac users, especially laptop users and potentially PC users as well.  A few things that we love about Crashplan Pro.

  • They have a 25% discount for non-profits.  Just ask them.  I love vendors who do this.
  • Crashplan is easy to use from the server perspective and invisible to the end user.
  • It is very flexible and simple while remaining powerful.  They have really hit the sweet spot on this.  You don’t need a PhD to configure it.
  • Users can back up from anywhere across the internet.  That’s right… anywhere.  Meaning my Macbook Pro is still being backed up even when I have it at home.
  • They offer a 30 day trial.  You can run it, fully featured, for 30 days before making a decision.
  • Multiple backup targets.  My Macbook can back up to my local firewire drive AND the crashplan server.  Ok, so I’m paranoid.

Implementation was easy.  We installed the server product on an older server chassis and connected it first to local storage, which was fine but not really enough for all of our users.  Next we purchased a 16 Terabyte Drobo Pro (8 drives x 2TB).  For less than 3k for 16TB, the Drobo Pro is a great backup storage solution.  It’s iSCSI, which makes it a snap for connecting to the Crashplan server, and while I’m not convinced that I would use a Drobo for primary storage of mission critical data, this is a great product for backup data (video archiving, files, etc).  Besides, I trust EqualLogic to handle my primary storage anyway.  We’ll use this same storage (and server) to also store our Veeam backups of our VMware servers.  Now, I should also mention that we have a great offsite backup solution for our critical data.  I highly recommend you look into One Safe Place if you are looking for offsite storage.  I realize that Crashplan offers offsite, but the SQL and Exchange tools that One Safe Place provides are amazing.  I would never recommend that you only backup data onsite, you should always offsite mission critical data in some fashion, but in this case we are talking about the data that resides on individual laptops, not servers.

Licensing for Crashplan is simple.  Once you have purchased your license, you just enter the license key into the server (one time) and your clients will be licensed.  In our case, we purchased 25 licenses.  One of our hurdles to implementing more Mac computers on our campus was backup.  I should also mention that the Crashplan Pro client works for both the PC and the Mac, so users on both platforms can backup to the same server.  Mac users and PC users can use the same client licensing.

There had been lots of discussion around this solution amongst Church IT guys from around the country.  If you are church or business owner looking for a solid backup solution, you should look at Crashplan Pro.

First in action, and supported by speech

Every week at Watermark, visitors have a section of our bulletin that they can tear off and let us know how we can serve them.  I love getting to hear what people think, and really love what one visitor shared this week.  I pray that we are always a church that is a church of action supported by our words.

“Speechless. I don’t really know where to start.  My first impression was “whoa, this place is big. The people all look nice and I don’t think I’ll fit in b/c I feel so dirty.” I was intimidated by its size and the appearance.  But when I heard the message, those insecurities dwindled.  The teaching is insightful, biblically sound and wise.  I am grateful that the Lord led me to Watermark.  This church is following the example set forth by Jesus Christ – First in action and supported by speech”

Thankful to be part of what God is doing through this little community of Christ followers.

Honesty is the best policy!

I was reminded of a good lesson today.  It was the kind of lesson that kicks you in the knees when you realize that you have to sometimes live out the very lessons that you teach your kids.

This morning my wife was at Wal-mart with our two youngest kiddos, when my four year-old found a dollar bill.  Like most girls her age, a dollar is the same as a million bucks, and opens up a world of opportunities; trips to Disneyworld, new toys, etc…  But her “mean Mommy” made her give it back.  So, out of her little hand went the dollar bill along with a lesson about honesty which is worth more than a dollar.  (and Mommy bought her candy, a nice touch.)

And there there was my day…

At Watermark we have been in the process of renewing our licensing for our Aruba wireless controller and needing to upgrade our licensing to support the additional access points for the new building.  We have received the upgrade quotes, and the entire bill will run nearly twelve thousand dollars for the license upgrade.  It’s a significant chunk of change… a lot more money than I want to spend.  However, today I found out that Aruba made a mistake, a big mistake.  After spending a bit of time looking at our wireless controller, I discovered that instead of the 48 access point license that we bought several years ago, Aruba somehow mistakenly had given us the very license keys (for 128 APs) that we need for the new building.  It was like finding a twelve thousand dollar bill on the floor at Wal-mart…  Except that it couldn’t be right?  Could it?   So I called Aruba to find out for sure… and sure enough, both sales and the system engineer confirmed that the license is valid.

Except now they know what I know…and now that they know that I have something I didn’t pay for, I still have to renew my support on Aruba.  Renewing my support means paying for the upgrade after all because I can’t just do the 48AP support renewal and pretend that everyone is happy.  They can’t do it, and neither can I.   It just wouldn’t be right.

I believe that I work hard to steward the resources that God has blessed us with at Watermark.  It would have been really nice to have saved that money.  I would have really liked Aruba to have come back with a “it was our mistake, so you don’t need to pay the difference, just use it…”  But they didn’t and I was selfishly a little disappointed.  I’m guess I’m hopeful that they will give us a better deal on the price because of our honesty.

Then again, we don’t do the right thing because we hope to get something for free, or a better deal.  We do the right thing because God tells us to.  In Luke 16:10 Jesus tells the disciples, “Who can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (NIV)   Paul in his first epistle to Timothy says to “Cling to your faith, and keep your conscience clear.  For some people have deliberately violated their conscience; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Tim 1:19 NLT)

So whether it is a dollar on the floor or twelve thousand dollars tied up in obscure licensing mistakes… Honest always is the best policy.

Questions;  How have you wrestled with these types of situations?  How did you handle it?  What areas of growth have you seen personally from behaving honestly?

Texas Church IT Roundtable Recap

February 23rd saw our first “Texas sized” church IT roundtable.  From my perspective it was a great success.  We had over 50 people involved in learning, sharing, and networking with other church IT leaders and key vendors.  Whenever you can get that many IT guys to show up in one room, I feel like it is an automatic “win” for the Kingdom.

The best part of my job is getting to network and learn from other people much smarter than me.  Yesterday I was blessed by a room full of those kind of people, so I walked away challenged and encouraged to take new ground in the ministry of IT in the local church.  It was great to have so many subject matter experts from Dell, Apple, and others sitting in and listening and providing their expertise.

My hope is that everyone who was there walked away with at least one takeaway that will impact their ministry.  Maybe more, but at least one.  And my other hope is that everyone left better connected with friends who serve in similar positions of ministry.  Once you catch the value of community, you are better equipped for the ministry that God has called you to.

One person asked me “how we continue to discussions that happened today on a regular basis”.  To that question there is an easy answer.  There is an IRC chat room that is almost always filled with Church IT guys from around the country.  It has been a great resource for me personally to ask questions, and occasionally be available to help others with an issue they are having.  You can connected to the chat room (#citrt) on IRC freenode, or by simply clicking this link which will launch the chat in a browser.

Lots of good conversations yesterday.  Thankful for how God is allowing us to use technology for the Kingdom.  Even more encouraged to see how so many folks are using their giftedness.

As I shared yesterday morning from Philippians 1:3-6,  “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”


Excited about what God is doing…

Church IT Jesus Freaks are a fun bunch.  We had a great time at the Dallas Church IT open lunch today.  15 folks from church and para-church organizations throughout Dallas joined together to talk about the future of our ministry together.  We are tentatively setting September as the next “full-day round table” and each person was challenged to seek out another ministry in the Dallas area and bring them along.  It was fun to hear all of the great technical discussions going on at the table… from social networking, virtualization, SAN solutions, web platforms, ChMS solutions, wireless… it was all good stuff.

The best things about my job are getting to interact with people who love Jesus and getting to share Jesus with those who don’t know Him yet.  Today I got to hang out with people who are geeks like me AND love Jesus.  That’s greatness. 

If you are part of a Dallas area ministry and want to get involved, drop us a line at or check out the forum at