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Be prepared

Be prepared

04/07/2011 | Channel: Technology, E-Business / IT, Business

Stobbarts construct a solid disaster recovery plan with a system from Acronis

Based in Cumbria, Stobbarts provides a wide range of construction services across the North West of England. Employing over 250 people and with an annual turnover in excess of £20 million, Stobbarts prides itself on providing exceptional value and service in the fields of building, civil engineering, facilities management, plant hire, demolition, decommissioning, nuclear works, and repairs and maintenance.

The introduction of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has led Stobbarts to take an active role in decommissioning nuclear sites and a large part of its business is carried out at the Sellafield site in Cumbria. The site has been operational since the 1940s when it was used as a Royal Ordnance factory during the war. Today, decommissioning nuclear waste treatment and commercial operations still take place at the site.

The nuclear industry is heavily regulated. Consequently, much of the data held by Stobbarts is needed to meet strict regulatory requirements. For example, records about anyone operating on a nuclear site must be held for the lifetime of that person for radioactive dose monitoring purposes. Because of such requirements, it is essential that the data that Stobbarts holds is kept secure and can be easily and quickly accessed.

Stobbarts was using a prior version of Symantec’s BackupExec to back up its seven servers holding sensitive information onto tape. Stobbarts’ IT partner, Chris Rogan at Unleashed Group, was growing frustrated with the length of time the backups were taking as they were starting to cause disruption to Stobbarts’ business; this was largely due to the fact that the volume of data being backed up was increasing
exponentially. The rapid expansion of the business as well as an increasing demand to shift away from paper to emails and electronic documents was causing an
increase in stored data. He resorted to taking the backups in the businesses operational hours during the day but this could only be a short-term solution.

Chris was also aware that the backups were only file based, so if Stobbarts’ IT systems failed it would take around a week to reinstall the operating systems, applications and files from scratch. He grew increasingly concerned about whether Stobbarts could recover from a disaster and how long this would take.

Backup time reduced by 90 per cent Chris decided to review Stobbart’s backup
and recovery solution. Several solutions were evaluated including a more recent version of Symantec’s BackupExec offering. However, he decided that a bare metal recovery solution, rather than a file based backup solution, was needed so that should disaster strike Stobbarts would be able to recover more rapidly with minimum disruption to the business.

Acronis stood out as the leader due to its easy to use, yet affordable imaging technology. Stobbarts was also particularly impressed with the optional data deduplication module, which would allow the company to greatly reduce the storage capacity required. The company also favoured Acronis Universal Restore, which allows recovery to dissimilar hardware for faster restore times.

Stobbarts installed Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 in September 2010. They found the software easy to use and intuitive. Robert Cooper, finance director at Stobbarts
explains: “The backups now only take a few minutes in some cases as opposed to several hours previously, firstly due to the fact that a lot of the data is being deduplicated – in fact we have achieved 55 per cent reduction in storage capacity requirements. Secondly, we are now backing up to a NAS device and have found disk based backup much cheaper than the previous cost of the tapes and autoloaders.”

A full image backup of each server is taken once a month and is supported by a differential backup once a week and an incremental one once a day. The time it takes to back up the servers each day has now been reduced by 90 per cent and now takes less than an hour per server.

Robert continued: “We use the validation tool on the Acronis software to check that the backups are working correctly so if system failure does occur we can easily recover. We have also invested in redundant hardware and are confident that if our servers did go down, we could restore to the dissimilar hardware and have the systems back up and running in less than a day.”

The company is also using backup solutions from Acronis to protect its MSQL and Microsoft Exchange servers. Robert concluded: “The ability to automatically back up the entire server infrastructure, including all of our data, is priceless. We are now confident that our disaster recovery plan will allow us to operate 24/7 and that we are compliant with industry regulations.”

Stobbarts Ltd
Stobbarts Ltd is a multidiscipline contractor working in the construction, nuclear, decommissioning and facilities management industries. Through its ‘Building Partnerships’ approach to business it is committed to the delivery of exceptional value and service.

For further information, visit: www.stobbarts.com

Acronis is a leading provider of easy-to-use backup, recovery and security solutions for physical, virtual and cloud environments. Its patented disk imaging technology enables corporations, SMBs and consumers to protect their digital asset.

For further information, visit: www.acronis.co.uk