With the influx of data dominating today’s technology market, backup and restoring files is paramount to operating smoothly and reliably. Simon Mason, Head of Design and Platforms, Suffolk County Council, tells us how the organisation wanted to improve its capabilities by focusing on both the recovery of individual files and the restore of systems, and why it turned to Cohesity for the solution.
Located in south-eastern England, Suffolk County Council (SCC) operates across six sites, providing services including planning, waste management, schools, social care, business support and libraries. Staff are supported by an IT team of 30, delivering network, server and cloud infrastructure, data centre management, system availability monitoring, backup, recovery and storage of data.
Head of Design and Platforms, Simon Mason, and Mark Fox, Senior Technical Lead, were aware of some gaps in capabilities, including a lack of ability to perform complete SCC backups within the available time frame, with the result that not all data was protected. This created stress across the team, who feared it might be unable to fulfil a request to restore key files.
The leaders’ primary concern was to rectify the situation with a focus on both recovery of individual files and the restore of systems more broadly. In addition, they were engaged in a whole-system re-evaluation which involved examining primary data storage, with a longer-term goal of moving on-premises storage to the cloud.
A gap analysis set alongside strategic and forward-looking ambitions led to the following priorities: achieve a smaller footprint in primary and Disaster Recovery data centres; move to a more modern data protection platform; reduce operational costs around support and backup/restore; and improve the ability to recover both individual files and complete file systems.
Cohesity was initially engaged to install a data management solution capable of completing full backups with Cohesity DataProtect. The solution was deployed at two sites, each of which was provisioned with a Cohesity cluster. In each case, these were used for backup and recovery and also for running Microsoft SQL, Oracle, Dell Compellent NAS and VMware workloads.
With this solution in place, a complete NAS backup was always possible. Thus, Mason and Fox had confidence they could restore any file requested. The Cohesity solution replaced the legacy, manual mechanisms used for protecting Oracle data with industry standards. This eased the backup process and assured Mason and Fox they could flex and scale the solution as needed in the future.
Mason and Fox decided to engage Cohesity for a second use case to implement a short-term file share with Cohesity SmartFiles as part of the data centre refresh project. SCC needed a solution in the transition to protect both Nutanix AHV and VMware hypervisors. The refresh also included an all-flash architecture to store data, which was the first such implementation in the EMEA region. The all-flash architecture is faster than more conventional solutions and was therefore the ideal platform for SCC’s file service solution. This installation was deployed across two sites and designed to have the immediate effect of increasing general NAS file access speeds, supporting workload sharing and improving file access times. In addition, the deployment was an interim measure on the road to moving on-premises storage to cloud, which serves the organisation now and future-proofs its investment with the introduction of the all-flash node into the cloud-based backup cluster later.
The increasing prevalence of ransomware targeting government agency data was another key reason SCC chose Cohesity. As part of the comprehensive data management platform, Cohesity features robust data defence capabilities such as immutable backups supporting ransomware protection, deterrence and recovery.
Across both initiatives, Mason and Fox were pleased with the dedication and care demonstrated by the Cohesity team, from pre-sales through implementation and beyond. Mason explained that this was a key factor in the decision to purchase the Cohesity all-flash solution.
“We work with a lot of external technical providers on quite large, quite complex solutions and this was one of the most positive experiences we have had,” said Mason. “Our pre-sales contact was very knowledgeable and made himself available for detailed discussions to provide technical expertise. The engineer assigned for implementation of the backup and restore solution was also excellent. Our technical team were really impressed.”
SCC’s IT support service has achieved efficiency savings and speed gains, and established greater confidence in the quality of its backup and restore service. Individual VMs and files from months into the past can reliably be retrieved and restored thanks to the efficiency of DataProtect and SmartFiles. Moreover, there is room to expand and flex requirements as the organisation evolves. As a market leader, Mason is certain that the Cohesity multi-cloud data management solution will continue to exceed requirements. “It is exciting that we have been able to be more innovative by working with Cohesity and now have greater confidence in terms of ease of maintenance of the platform.”
Furthermore, using flash provides a degree of future-proofing as it is advanced technology. Cohesity all-flash can be deployed into a new role as SCC continues its Digital Transformation, which includes moving data from on-premises to cloud.
The technology implementation took just four months. SCC has also seen significant RoI benefits amounting to £80,000 annually, with immediate cost savings as soon as the new platform was live.
The Cohesity benefits for SCC include:
- Operational time savings of more than 87%
- Data recovery time decreased by over 80%
- Total annual cost savings of £80,000
- Ransomware protection
- Faster and complete data backups