Data Backup Performance With Switch To Commvault

Challenge

Atrium had employed IBM’s Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), SQL Server CDP and Amazon AWS snapshots to satisfy its data protection requirements for all virtual machine, physical server and application data. The majority of production systems sat within the primary data centre, with a smaller amount of production systems located in a data centre in Greenwich. Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) EC2 compute environment was used to run a number of dev and test systems. Most systems consist of SQL servers running backend databases, with application servers based upon the Microsoft Windows operating system. The solution has been designed to allow all backups to take place to disk stores located at two data centres according to daily and weekly schedules.

Atrium was paying for a managed backup-as-a-service (BaaS) solution, which covered product licensing, basic support and an annual health check. Unfortunately, the service wasn’t working well for Atrium and staff had to spend several hours per day restarting backup jobs and troubleshooting issues.

Garry Lewis Assistant IT Infrastructure Manager for Atrium said, “We needed a backup that was fast, reliable and efficient. We needed expert advice.”

Atrium’s technical staff did not have the necessary skills and knowledge of IBM TSM to properly manage the environment and neither did the third party organisation that was supposed to be supporting them. Concerned about the validity of the long term process for backup and restore, a decision was made to bring the backup process back “in house”. Trusted advisor iSYSTEMS was engaged to help evaluate the best backup options available to Atrium.

Background

iSYSTEMS is a specialist mid-market enterprise infrastructure solution and service provider that has been working with Atrium Underwriters for some time. A deep understanding of the Atrium IT infrastructure had been developed which enabled the company to assist Atrium to select and deploy the most appropriate technology. As iSYSTEMS is vendor independent, it focuses on getting the customer the right solution at the right price and ensuring it is implemented correctly with the right amount of support and documentation for a smooth and effective hand over.

Independent, expert advise

Atrium was seeking to simplify and streamline the backup & recovery process while taking advantage of technological advances to improve data protection, resilience and restore capability. Working in partnership with Atrium, iSYSTEMS identified a number of key technical requirements for the new enterprise-class data protection and information management platform:

  • Centralised Management Platform
  • Security
  • Flexibility and Agility
  • Public Cloud Integration – Storage, Infrastructure, DR
  • Scalability
  • Reporting & Chargeback
  • Analytics & Metrics
  • End-user self-service
  • Operational Recovery with improved RTO/RPO’s
  • Dense and Scalable Backup to Disk Target
  • Professional Services


Solutions

iSYSTEMS investigated solutions from a number of vendors before recommending Commvault because it was capable of managing the complexities of a hybrid backup & recovery model. As more services were moved to the cloud, Commvault could also provide Atrium with the flexibility it needed. Unlike TSM, the Commvault data protection solution was able to deliver a complete, centrally managed backup suite for ongoing protection of all systems.

A key factor to the success in the Commvault solution implementation was having a reliable and trusted partner that Atrium could work with. Commenting on the decision to implement Commvault, Lewis, said “We felt confident iSYSTEMS understood our business requirements and could tailor the solution to meet our needs, rather than adjusting Atrium’s needs to a fixed solution.”

iSYSTEMS implemented Commvault software into both data centres for protection of all Atrium’s data. Backup data was replicated between sites to provide disaster recovery capabilities, and Commvault software was installed in the AWS environment to provide intelligent protection of SQL data. The AWS backup data was also replicated to the Greenwich data centre.

To remove Atrium’s reliance on tape for long term data retention, iSYSTEMS also implemented Nexsan as a high density and power efficient backup to disk storage target from a commercial and administrative overhead perspective.

Impact and Results

Lewis added “It is like night and day compared to the TSM system. There is no comparison. We are very happy with Commvault operationally and with how iSYSTEMS implemented the project for us. We wish we had started the project sooner than we did.”

Commvault has enabled Atrium to reduce backup times significantly, in some cases by as much as 20 hours. “The maintenance overhead on staff has also reduced, allowing us to automate test restores and many other backup related tasks,” Lewis adds.

  • Removed the reliance on an expensive third party backup solution that wasn’t providing value for money or the service levels expected
  • Unlike TSM, Commvault no longer requires a VM Proxy. This proxy was causing backup failures and slower backups
  • Slow CDP backups that were taking as long as 20 hours, affecting replication windows and causing failures, are now completed in under 4 hours without interruption
  • TSM suffered from data de-duplication issues resulting in the purchase of expensive SSDs. Commvault in-line de-duplication has significantly improved this process.
  • Significant space savings from data compression
  •  Backups are consistent and far quicker than they were
  •  Data transfer rates have improved from around 1Tb per hour to over 4 Tb per hour, significantly shrinking the backup window.
  •  The maintenance overhead on staff has been reduced significantly due to orchestration enabling the automation of test restores and other backup related tasks
“My team strive to deliver real positive business change, which is very apparent on this backup project for Atrium. It is this sort of highly successful technical engagements which cement our client relationships” – Rob Robinson CTO, iSYSTEMS.

Everywhere we look we see the promise of technology

With tools and processes to make every part of your process more human and with one of the most qualified and highly-accredited consultancies behind you, getting your project started couldn’t be easier. Tell us about your requirements and any technical issues you face.

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