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CWGC ends tape back-up

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Case Study: Taking a step away from thought leadership into real-life scenarios is critical for a balanced view of the merits and challenges of cloud computing.  Here we present an interesting case study produced by back-up software specialists Asigra, for a solution deployed and managed by Techgate Plc for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

Overview
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) cares for cemeteries and memorials for Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during both world wars. The organization maintains a vast amount of important digital records and archives that must be protected in the event of data loss caused by human error, system failure or natural disaster. CWGC chose Disaster Recovery Specialist Techgate plc which is powered by Asigra. CWGC was able to significantly reduce the complexity and management overhead of their backup environment while improving overall performance.

Customer Overview
CWGC ensures that the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. The organization cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations across 153 countries. CWGC values and aims, as laid out in 1917, are as relevant now as they were almost 100 years ago. The Commission is proud of the work it carries out to commemorate the war dead, from building and maintaining cemeteries and memorials to the preservation of records. The Commission continues to set the highest standards for its work, leveraging preeminent architects of their day, who have included Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Herbert Baker and Sir Reginald Blomfield.

CWGC ensures that the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten.

Because of the important records maintained by the Commission, a highly reliable backup solution is necessary to ensure that the data is always accessible. The organization had been reliant on a tape backup solution by Symantec, but this was a highly distributed technology that required each backup environment to be managed independently around the world. Furthermore, because tapes were stored off-site and required significant manual processes to recall the data from this medium, a full business continuity plan invocation would take far too long – approximately 30 days. Additionally, because of the large amounts of data that needed be backed up, it was taking longer to protect the information. As a consequence, the Commission was not able to meet its recovery time objectives ford at a from primary business applications.

Business Situation
The CWGC maintains and manages more than 20TB of data with more than 4TB of historical casualty records. This data is located across disparate physical locations and continues to grow in size. The Commission’s legacy tape backup solution was having difficulties keeping up with the growing volume of data which was causing issues with backing up the information within a finite backup window and recovering the data in a timely manner. Because the tape system’s recovery times were 30 days to restore all non-critical data and at least 24 hours for critical data, it became a major risk for the day-to-day operations of CWGC. They needed to improve their recovery times significantly in order to ensure business continuity for the long term.

Because tapes were stored off-site and required significant manual processes to recall the data from this medium, a full business continuity plan invocation would take far too long – approximately 30 days.

“Because of the importance of the records we keep, data availability is very important to the mission of CWGC,” said Will Webster, Head of IT for CWGC. “The Symantec tape backup solution we had in place was no longer able to support this mission and therefore needed to be replaced. During our review process for alternatives, we determined that key criteria should not only include backup and recovery performance but also management simplicity for the sake of operational efficiency.”

In addition to recovery performance challenges, CWGC was also dealing with the complexities of managing a vast number of backup tapes. Sending these tapes off-site and retrieving them for recoveries was becoming extremely time intensive as data volumes increased. As a result, the Commission sought to change from tape backup to a Cloud based managed backup and recovery service using disaster recovery specialists Techgate. Techgate provides the Asigra Cloud BackupTM service from its highly secure, Tier 3, UK-based data centres, utilizing cuttingedge IBM server and storage infrastructure.

Solution
CWGC removed its tape backup systems and deployed the Asigra Cloud-based recovery solution to six of its locations throughout Europe, backing up 80 servers over those locations.  Each of these environments included Windows-based servers as well as Microsoft Hyper-V virtualized servers with multiple databases (including SQL and Exchange) in place across these systems.

“We were facing a number of challenges with tape backup that were straining our financial, IT and human resources and saw a real opportunity with Asigra Cloud Backup and Techgate,” continued Webster. “From the outset, the solution directly addressed our concerns. It allowed us to centrally manage our backup and recovery processes and eliminate manual tape management tasks. Asigra’s Backup Lifecycle Management (BLM) feature allowed us to minimise our data growth issues by prioritizing data to improve recovery performance.”

Results
Prior to implementing Techgate’s Asigra solution, non-specialist staff at each location were assigned to deal with the management of backup tapes which took between 15-20 minutes per day.  The new solution changed all of that by moving CWGC from a back up infrastructure reliant on legacy technology to a modern cloud-based solution. The Commission liked Asigra’s agent-less architecture which eliminated the need to install software on backup targets, which had historically reduced performance and resulted incompatibility issues. With Asigra, backup operations are automated and users have greater confidence in knowing that their data is, in the event of a disaster, always quickly and easily accessible.

“In conjunction with Asigra, we have shown CWGC a clear and modern alternative to tape backup. With initial deployments of the backup service in place, Asigra has proven effective at simplifying backup and recovery processes for the organization. We look forward to supporting additional disaster recovery requirements for the Commission as they benefit from the operational improvements enabled by cloud backup. As with most of our customers, UK data domicile, compliance and security, were key system requirements.”

Chris McDonnell, Solutions Delivery Manager, Cloud Services, Techgate plc.

About Asigra
Trusted since 1986, Asigra provides organizations around the world the ability to recover their data now from anywhere through a global network of partners who deliver cloud backup and recovery services as public, private and/or hybrid deployments. As the industry’s first enterprise agentless cloud-based recovery software to provide data backup and recovery of servers, virtual machines, endpoint devices, databases and applications, SaaS and IaaS based applications, Asigra lowers the total cost of ownership, reduces recovery time objectives, eliminates silos of backup data by providing a single consolidated repository, and provides 100% recovery assurance. Asigra’s revolutionary patent-pending Recovery License Model provides organizations with a cost effective data recovery business model unlike any other offered in the storage market. Asigra has been recognized as a Gartner Cool Vendor and has been included in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software since 2010.

More information on Asigra can be found at www.recoveryiseverything.com