Melbourne’s City of Whittlesea outsources its disaster recovery

Wednesday, 14 January, 2009

The City of Whittlesea, a local government area in Melbourne’s outer north, has outsourced its disaster recovery (DR) systems to Global Storage after finding the cost and time required to archive its data onto tape were becoming unacceptable to the organisation.

“We have many terabytes of information,” said the council’s IT manager Max Giordano.

The organisation relies on an HDS SAN for its shared storage infrastructure, with CommVault software previously providing it with backup services. The council conducted incremental backups to tape, with monthly consolidations shipped to a secure archiving facility.

“It took up a lot of time and was expensive,” Giordano says. Backup windows were growing, causing disruptions to the network.

“The business just is not tolerant of that,” he says. “Any disruption to any network services gets people’s noses out of joint. They are not interested in the reasons why and if we tell them it is because of the sheer amount of data to back up they roll their eyes.”

Worst of all, Giordano was not convinced the previous solution would make it possible to recover data in the event of a disaster.

He therefore investigated a replacement system and was quickly convinced that buying new DR software and equipment would be prohibitively expensive.

“Local government has a finite budget for IT. We do things on a shoestring budget.

“To replace our DR would need a lot of money to invest up front and on top of that we would need 20–40% of that spend each year for maintenance. In a few years we would have to upgrade the whole thing.”

In-house tools, he added, would have meant a new hire. “Getting someone in who is skilled and has DR experience is expensive and we do not have that kind of resources.”

Outsourcer Global Storage therefore presented a compelling argument for the council, which now conducts incremental backups over its WAN that commence in the evening after the organisation closes for the day.

“They wheeled in an array and took a snapshot of our data and the backup is now in their facility,” Giordano says. “We have business rules to say keep data on primary for 30 days, then secondary and after 90 days as a nearline archive accessed over the WAN.

“It’s alleviated the need for backup here,” Giordano enthuses. “They do all the heavy lifting.”

Global Storage provides all the software as part of the deal, further reducing costs.

“I reckon over three years we will have saved $500,000,” Giordano says.

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