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Evault provides disaster recovery for pathology unit

Storage Expo : 22 August, 2007  (Application Story)
Hospital trust achieves faster data recovery and more straightforward data back up procedures for its pathology department with Evault
The Leeds & Bradford Hospitals' Pathology Service manages thirteen different departments of the two trusts across nine locations in north central England. This large and complex Pathology organisation was created from a merger of several separate hospitals in the area which has approximately 1000 staff and a budget of £45 million. The Pathology service processes three million specimens per year on a 24/7 basis

After the merger, the amount of data generated grew by a factor of three. Budgetary constraints made it impossible to backup each site's data individually, so the Pathology group decided to backup centrally each day. This created a lengthy backup window, which was compounded by compliance mandates, and a legal requirement for long-term storage. The IT team needed a solution to replace its tape-based method.

Bruce Pickering, Small Systems & Networks Manager for Pathology Services, explains the problem: "The daily backup was starting to take five days—a situation that we knew could not carry on. The tape drives were failing so often that the organisation had reached the point where we realistically could not backup data using tape."

The prolonged time needed for backups put the hospital at risk of being unable to restore critical records in the event of a serious server failure. In addition, the failure rate of the tapes themselves created extra work for the staff and taxed the department's budget.

Another problem was that the network traffic required to backup data centrally detracted from the Quality of Service (QoS) for the hospital's primary applications. Backup files ranged in size from 2MB to 2GB. Unfortunately, as a 24-hour business there was no downtime for sending backup data across the network.

The Pathology service needed a reliable solution that solved all of these problems. "A low-cost, reliable solution that did not require an entire team of dedicated staff to run," says Pickering.

In searching for a solution Pickering and his team initially believed that a large vendor would be best suited to deal with the hospital's burgeoning data requirements. But they were concerned that their solutions would mean dedicating staff just to handle backup and recovery scripting. EVault was suggested as a potential alternative.

EVault's solution looked good on paper, but seeing the technology in action at another site convinced Pickering's team that EVault was best suited to solve its data problems. "I was able to see for myself how another customer implemented and managed their EVault infrastructure. The customer sang EVault's praises and I was left with the feeling that the technology was almost too good to be true," adds Pickering.

"The deciding factor was the promise of low management overheads compared to the other vendors' solutions. As an NHS hospital the budget is king—we could not afford a solution that would not deliver."

Pickering deemed EVault InfoStageâ„¢ disk-to-disk backup and recovery software was ideally suited to address the type of problems which Leeds & Bradford Hospitals Pathology Service faced, especially when it came to considerably shrinking the backup window requirement and providing a cost-effective, reliable, and secure solution to protect its valuable patient data.

Engineers from EVault's implementation partner 2E2 came on site and worked closely with a staff member to fully configure the entire backup and recovery infrastructure. When they left, the hospital had a working solution and all the documentation required.

"We found that EVault's tech support was excellent. A few minor tweaks and add-ons were required, but they took our problems seriously and dealt with them in a timely fashion. Quite honestly, the after-sales service has been second-to-none," says Pickering.

EVault's solution provides the service with an easy-to-manage application that works extremely well over low bandwidths and—crucially—eliminates the need for a dedicated team of IT staff to manage backups at the various hospital sites. Plans are currently underway to expand Pathology's EVault deployment and add simultaneous backup at a second site.

Pickering concludes, "EVault has provided a solution that more or less runs itself after implementation. It provides backup at a low cost to both budget and time and does away with the time-consuming failures and management of the tape backup systems."

EVault is exhibiting at Storage Expo 2007 the UK's largest and most important event dedicated to data storage. Now in its 7th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme and over 90 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 17 - 18 October 2007
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