News of ransomware attacks has become all too common in this modern age of cyberattacks. Some say it’s not a question of if you’ll be hit by a ransomware attack, but when.

Such was the case with Sky Lakes Medical Center. On October 26, 2020, an employee at the medical center clicked on an innocent-looking link to a Google doc delivered in a disguised phishing email. The employee did not know this link pointed to a malicious site that dropped the Ryuk ransomware payload into the medical center’s network and systems.

Within 12 hours, the Sky Lakes IT team identified they had been hit and had to shut down all their systems. This meant 650 servers and 150 different applications the healthcare provider relies upon to run the hospital and treat patients were now offline.

After the Ryuk payload was removed, the medical center’s IT team had a huge challenge in front of them: How to quickly recover their data from before the attack? Time was of the essence. To highlight the sense of urgency, the medical center could not treat its cancer patients until key clinical applications were brought back online.

But the Sky Lakes IT team had a gem in their tool chest: Cohesity running on the Cisco UCS® platform. Instead of taking several weeks to recover their servers, applications and data – as would have been the case using the medical center’s legacy backup and recovery system – operations were restored in minutes with a few clicks, using Cohesity DataProtect and its integration with on Cisco HyperFlex™.

Previous legacy backup solution far too complex and inefficient

A few years prior to the attack, the Sky Lakes IT team realized that–like most large companies–they had a data fragmentation problem. Their data was spread across multiple locations, including data centers, remote offices, and the cloud. This data fragmentation created a tremendous number of complexities and inefficiencies, as it was nearly impossible to search and find the right data when it needed to be rapidly restored to a previous point in time.

In fact, previously, Sky Lakes devoted a full-time engineer to manage its legacy backup solution due to the complexities and the amount of time required for restores. Backing up a single virtual server, creating schedules, and ensuring no overlap with other jobs took multiple hours to complete.

Proactive modernization of backup and recovery pays off

The Sky Lakes IT team proactively realized they needed to modernize their backup solution to help the engineering team be more efficient and effective in their work. As such, they searched for a solution that would consolidate their data management silos and put in place a single platform to more easily manage their data. A core requirement was the ability to quickly bring restores back online.

Sky Lakes IT chose the Cohesity backup and recovery solution running on Cisco UCS hyper-converged infrastructure, which enabled the consolidation of much of their workloads. Cohesity brought additional benefits such as Cohesity SmartFiles for file and object services that replaced their entire Microsoft file server clusters. As a result, Sky Lakes now can easily see and backup all its data, whether on departmental shares, personal drives or storage in the cloud. Since Cohesity-certified Cisco UCS is integrated with Cisco Intersight™, Sky Lakes IT can manage its entire infrastructure from one place.

Foresight saves the day (and lives)

Little did the Sky Lakes IT team realize at the time of the switch to Cohesity and Cisco UCS how critical their foresight would turn out to be. Trying to recover 650 servers and 150 applications after the October 2020 ransomware attack, using their legacy backup solution, would have been a nightmare.

Being proactive also helped save lives. As anyone with experience with cancer knows, cancer doesn’t wait for clinical applications to be brought back online. Simply put, deploying Cohesity on Cisco UCS helped Sky Lakes quickly get back to doing what it does best: Help heal its patients.

“I can’t imagine where we’d be without Cohesity running on Cisco UCS.”
– John Gaede, Director of Information Services, Sky Lakes Medical Center

Learn more about the Sky Lakes Medical Center story here.

Next step: Cohesity integration with SecureX

To help companies further strengthen their defenses against cyberattacks, Cohesity’s anti-ransomware solution is being integrated into Cisco SecureX™. SecureX provides a single pane of glass dashboard for multiple security products. The Cohesity integration adds data security to this capability. As a result, through SecureX, companies like Sky Lakes Medical Center can put in place heightened security that includes network, end points, and now data.

For example, with the Cohesity integration, a security admin will be notified of virtual or physical servers potentially affected by ransomware or malware. The security admin can then work with the backup and compute admins to restore the affected servers.


Learn more about how Cisco and Cohesity work together to deliver market leading data management solutions!


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Jawwad Memon

Senior Product Manager

Cloud and Compute BU