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Back up cost reduction at UK council

ExaGrid Systems : 13 May, 2009  (Application Story)
Ipswich Council switches to disk based de-duplication and backup to improve data security and reduce back up times
ExaGrid Systems has announced that Ipswich Borough Council (Ipswich BC) has chosen the ExaGrid system to achieve faster backups, improve security of data and to save taxpayers' money in the future with built-in scalability.

Ipswich BC is a regional centre for business, culture, entertainment and sport and has more than 130,000 residents. To support the Council's 70 IT applications, the council's IT department is responsible for an IT infrastructure that includes 130 servers across the IT and telephone network. These applications create vast quantities of data that needs to be backed up on a daily basis and stored in a secure environment. As the quantity of data grew, Ipswich BC found that its tape based backup systems were simply not able to cope with demand.

In fact the load on the seven tape drives meant that a daily backup was taking 23.5 hours to complete. This meant that there was only a 30 minute window before the next backup was due to commence. The weekly backups would take all weekend. On many occasions the backups exceeded the available time window and had to be terminated.

As a result the team at Ipswich BC knew they either needed to buy another tape drive or move to a new solution. With long backup and restore times, tape management issues causing problems on a daily basis and with what is practically an obsolete technology in situ, Ipswich BC decided to cope with future demand by adding a disk-based backup system.

Howard Gaskin, Infrastructure IT Manager, Ipswich Borough Council, "Using tape had a number of issues, we needed 20-30 tapes to do a backup and this took some managing and a lot of supervision. Furthermore, the tapes used to break and suffer other problems which often meant that we could not complete the backup in the available time. Consequently, some days the system could not be backed up at all. In addition we had to transport the tapes offsite which raised further logistical and security issues."

After a thorough selection process, Ipswich BC selected the ExaGrid system from three alternative offerings and is already beginning to see a remarkable ROI. By moving 27 terabytes of data backups to the ExaGrid system, Ipswich BC has reduced the tape based backups to 20 hours a day and will reduce them further as more backups are migrated across to the ExaGrid platform.

"We use the ExaGrid system to back up our virtual servers using VMware. The de-duplication is a real winner for us. We have been getting a 60:1 Deduplication ratio which is absolutely fantastic. We backup 27 terabytes of data and it produces half a terabyte at the backend. Whilst restoring is now something the team does not look at with dread. We just copy across the network and it now takes 10 minutes to do what used to take half a day," continued Gaskin. Furthermore, the ExaGrid system was incredibly easy to install. We switched it on and it ran and we haven't had to worry about it since - a big change from the constant issues we had with the tape drives and tapes."

"We always need to ensure every decision we make benefits the taxpayers. The scalability of ExaGrid's system really made our final decision an easy one. It means we are able to have freedom for expansion at a later date without incurring a major cost. Its modular architecture will enable us to easily add capacity in the future to accommodate more data. I don't think I will ever buy another tape drive," said Gaskin.

ExaGrid's GRID computing software makes the system highly scalable, and when plugged into a switch, different sized configurations can be mixed and matched into a single GRID system with capacities of up to a 60TB full backup plus retention. When virtualized, they appear as a single system to the backup server, and load balancing of all data across servers is automatic.

"Finally, the ExaGrid system is used to backup our Exchange servers which we now do twice a day. This makes our email data more available and secure. Data security is critically important to local government and with our new processes in place, we don't have to worry about security issues associated with moving tapes offsite," confirmed Gaskin.

Andy Palmer, EMEA Sales Director for ExaGrid, commented: "ExaGrid is growing from strength to strength with another record quarter recently announced. One of the fundamental reasons for this is that we offer an easy to use system that is relevant to all SME businesses across all industry sectors. So whether it's a successful and dynamic borough council like Ipswich or a health insurance firm such as another recent win, International SOS, we can deliver the solution that best suits an organisation's specific needs. Not only that but in such challenging times, our offering allows customers to do more for less. Providing real value for every penny invested."

ExaGrid combines last backup compression along with data deduplication, which only stores changes from backup to backup instead of storing full file copies. This unique approach reduces the disk space required by a range of 10:1 to 50:1 or more, delivering unparalleled cost savings and performance. ExaGrid delivers extremely fast backup performance because data is written directly to disk, and data Deduplication is performed post-process after the data is stored to reduce data.
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