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Online backup and improved disaster recovery for Arriva London

Storage Expo : 21 August, 2008  (Technical Article)
EVault Vice President, Phil Evans explains how storage improvements are helping business continuity at Arriva transport service in London
Arriva London is one of the biggest bus operators in London, providing more than 19 per cent of the capital's bus services under contract to Transport for London (TfL). Contracts involve routes, vehicles and timetables specified by TfL and are closely monitored to ensure services are of the highest quality. Arriva London operates from nine garages in north London, and from six garages in south London.

In total, Arriva London operates more than 50 million miles each year, nearly 330 million passenger journeys. Arriva London is part of the Arriva Plc group.
Arriva Plc is one of the largest providers of passenger transport in Europe. Its buses and trains provide more than a billion passenger journeys a year. It has a major presence in over ten European countries and its revenue has increased by 140 per cent over four years to £752.3m.

Arriva London's Head office in Wood Green, stores and manages all of the scheduling, rostering, HR and payroll for London. As the company grew so did the demand for data, prompting Arriva London to re-examine its data management and protection processes. Arriva London's legacy backup system was built on tape technology. This created problems, as tape backup was slow, errors were frequent, and IT staff spent too much time managing the backup and recovery process.

The situation was made worse by the fact that as new servers were installed the tapes they required changed, which meant that IT staff had to deal with a number of different tapes, of different sizes, stored in different locations.

Alan Ricot IT Manager, Arriva London commented: "The situation was getting to the point where it was becoming hard to manage, staff were frustrated by the lack of uniformity and we needed a change. We have some twenty servers and five or six different models of tape drives, each requiring a different tape format."

Recognising that replication software is often expensive and bandwidth-intensive, Alan decided to investigate the market further. Following a data storage seminar, hosted by EVault's platinum reseller BSG, Alan was instantly impressed by EVault's solution. After reviewing its website he decided that the disk base backup solution could be an ideal fit, as it eliminated the need for physical tape backup.

Alan commented: "I contacted EVault in January after initially being introduced to them through their reseller BSG. After discussing the solution further with an EVault representative I decided to go ahead with the thirty-day free trial, using three of our servers as a test bed. We continued the trial until March and following a proposal to Alan Sewell (Arriva Finance Director), decided to migrate all of the remaining servers from tape- storage to online disk-based storage."

Alan continued "The implementation itself took just a couple of weeks, once I was shown how to install one it was pretty easy, so I had most of the servers up and running by April. EVault then returned to check the solution was running efficiently and trained the remainder of the team."

Arriva London now have a single, centralised back up system that can be managed from one terminal with ease, delivering end to end disaster recover. They no longer have to worry about the management, retrieval and storage of physical tape, which has lead to greater efficiencies and space savings across the whole IT department. The online backup is much faster and Arriva London has been able to eliminate the time spent previously on tape management and minimise the administrative errors inherent in this process.

Alan commented: "As soon as the solutions was implemented the benefits were instantly apparent. Staff can now retrieve data instantly, just by searching on the screen, they no longer have to spend time looking through hundreds of physical tapes of different shapes and sizes. The automated nature of the online backup solution now means that the management of backup and restore only takes a few mouse-clicks, which has had a dramatic effect on my staff and efficiency."

Alan concluded: "We've been so impressed with the system that we will be looking to install a second vault at our Edmonton depot as part of our disaster recovery plan."

Seagate Services is exhibiting at Storage Expo 2008 the UK's definitive event for data storage, information and content management. Now in its 8th year, the show features a comprehensive FREE education programme and over 100 exhibitors at the National Hall, Olympia, London from 15 - 16 October 2008
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