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Cutting downtime, staff overhead with outsourced DR

When it comes to disaster recovery -- assuming they don't ignore DR altogether -- Australian businesses have a tendency to overestimate just how quickly they could retrieve their data if an incident occurs.

Often this is can be chalked up to an over-reliance on manual or non-automated systems, according to Kevin McIsaac, advisor at consultancy firm IBRS.

"The business has this unrealistic expectation that all their systems will be back in four hours," McIsaac says. "They have no idea."

A recent survey of Australian businesses indicated a heavy reliance on in-house manual or semi-automated disaster recovery approaches. A minority have gone the route of using in-house automated DR approaches or fully outsourced their disaster recovery processes. For about a year Bakers Delight has fallen into the latter category.

The bakery franchise, which has outlets in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, doesn't have to deal with the same kind of business-critical data a bank does, says Joanne Stubbs, chief information officer at the franchise's Melbourne HQ. But even for a seemingly low-tech industry such as baking, data is critical.

In the case of Bakers Delight, much of that data is sales related reporting from bakeries. "More and more we're becoming dependent on our sales reporting being very timely," Stubbs says.

"We have corporate dashboards that all the franchises have access to, and they can get access to updated sales information every 15 minutes."

The reports are updated with data from all three countries the franchise has a presence in. So while data-loss might not be the same career-ender it would be in a bank, as with any business it's still an important issue and DR is an important capability provided by the Bakers Delight IT department.

Prior to shifting to an automated DR solution, disaster recovery capabilities were the domain of in-house IT. About a year ago, however, Stubbs says she shifted to Global Storage's DR-as-a-service.

Having IT maintain Bakers Delight DR capabilities involved a lot of overhead, Stubbs says, such as keeping software up to date and making sure software patches were applied, as well as training -- "making sure that the technology was known among the staff for something that wasn't used that frequently."

Stubbs would much rather her staff be "employed doing things that challenge them rather than mundane routine stuff that they have to do as part of their daily duties or weekly duties."

Bakers Delight has implemented Global Storage's DR and backup system, dubbed Environment Ready. The system, which leverages FalconStor's continuous data protection technology, uses an appliance situated in the Bakers Delight data centre. Data is continuously streamed to the appliance, and from there to Global Storage's cloud.

The solution means that the business doesn't need to find backup windows, and the staff to monitor the backup process. The appliance itself can provide a week or two of data, acting effectively as a local cache -- so a single file or folder can be made visible quickly on the local network. Two or three months' worth of data is stored offsite.

If a disk fails in the Bakers Delight data centre, a version can be mounted locally from the appliance. In the case of a fully fledged disaster, Global Storage staff can run a DR process based on the offsite data.


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