With over £12 billion total revenues processed through the platforms each year, representing over 75 percent of holiday bookings in Europe, a robust infrastructure is a must for ATCORE. Two UK-based data centers offer hosted and managed services, ensuring business-critical applications are available 24/7.
Customer data protection and business continuity are vital, but when Gary Pyett, Systems Consultant for ATCORE, first arrived, these areas needed some attention, as he explains: “We used Micro Focus® Data Protector, but had not put any real investment or focus behind our backup and data retention strategies. We were several versions behind on Data Protector, and our environment was mainly physical within the two data centers. All backup traffic was transmitted over Ethernet and then written to MSL tape libraries over a FC SAN. As our data grew, so did our backup issues, until there were not enough hours in the day to perform backups, let alone secure maintenance windows. Individual backups took in excess of 24 hours, and customers complained of poor response times on their systems.”
Customer data separation is key and this meant all backup traffic traveled through firewall interfaces which are restricted on throughput. In a diverse environment where customers can run any OS flavor, and operate in a physical or virtual environment, ATCORE needed a flexible backup solution.
The first step for ATCORE was to upgrade Data Protector to a version that supported data deduplication. With several deduplication options available to them, ATCORE used server-side deduplication as they could control the server-side infrastructure and build this to the required capacity. Gary comments on the impact of this simple upgrade: “We achieved a 10:1 deduplication rate with Data Protector. This means our backup traffic is reduced by 90 percent, a massive improvement that was just the start for us.”
The new version of Data Protector offers VMware integration. Wanting to move away from Ethernet as that would continue to be a bottleneck; ATCORE introduced a virtualized environment with agentless backup, using vStorage. With a choice of transport methods, this strategy lets Data Protector choose the fastest. Using mainly the SAN transport mode, Gary saw backup speeds double from 15-20MB/sec to 35-40MB/sec.
When ATCORE introduced HPE StoreOnce as a virtual appliance in Azure as its backup target, more avenues for efficiency opened up, as Gary explains: “StoreOnce essentially performs the deduplication load which was consuming a lot of CPU resources. Adding this element increased the speed of our backups from 35-40MB/sec to 50-55MB/sec, another marked improvement thanks to Data Protector’s highly advanced integration capabilities.”
The Azure cloud model gives the flexibility ATCORE needs, by simply adding or removing disks as required, depending on demand. Long-term data retention and Disaster Recovery (DR) represent two of the most frequent uses for cloud storage today; as enterprises are under pressure to reduce costs.
Finally, ATCORE decided to implement Micro Focus Backup Navigator, providing advanced analytics and reporting for Data Protector environments. It gives visual insight into the backup and recovery process based on daily use. Gary has easily configured reports to analyze data throughput, storage, capacity, usage etc. A user friendly dashboard showed Gary some home truths: “Having only used Backup Navigator for a short time, I already identified several things I wasn’t aware of, including just how much backup traffic we have: 200-600TB per day.”
In a time where security is paramount, ATCORE is fully compliant with strict industry regulations around data protection. Gary comments: “Data Protector helps us meet the SLAs we commit to our customers for performance and uptime. We test our DR plans as regularly as quarterly for some customers, to ensure resilience, business continuity, and security.”
Taking a systematic approach and redesigning the backup environment paid dividends for ATCORE. Backup times were more than halved and Gary is pleased with the ongoing commitment to Data Protector: “We looked at several other solutions, but in our diverse environment with physical and virtual servers, as well as large Oracle clusters, we feel Data Protector gives us the flexibility we need, both now and in the future.”