Midlands Co-op implements enterprise-class archiving and backup solutions with IBM and Portal Partnership

Published on 17-Mar-2009

Validated on 07 Oct 2013

"These IBM technologies are already delivering real business benefits to Midlands Co-op – meeting the business case by solving our email stability issues and ensuring that we can respond quickly when emails or data need to be restored." - Richard Palmer, Systems Architect, Midlands Co-op

Customer:
Midlands Co-operative Society Ltd

Industry:
Retail

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Enterprise Content Management, Optimizing IT

IBM Business Partner:
Portal Partnership

Overview

Midlands Co-operative Society Limited is the second-largest independent retail society in the UK, trading principally in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and the Greater Midlands, and with additional outlets in Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. The company operates more than 400 stores and employs around 8,000 people – 1,100 of whom have a corporate email account.

Business need:
With users’ mailboxes growing beyond recommended limits, Midlands Co-op’s Microsoft Exchange email platform was becoming unstable and difficult to back up and restore. The company wanted to implement a standardized archiving and backup solution that would improve reliability and reduce recovery times.

Solution:
Midlands Co-op worked with Portal Partnership, an IBM Premier Business Partner, to implement IBM CommonStore for Microsoft Exchange for email archiving, and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager to back up data from all core systems.

Benefits:
CommonStore provides policy-based email archiving – helping to cut production data volumes, reduce storage costs, and resolve reliability issues. Tivoli Storage Manager enables a two-stage backup process – data is replicated to a secondary disk array before being moved to tape – helping to make restoration and recovery a quick and simple process.

Case Study

Midlands Co-operative Society Limited is the second-largest independent retail society in the UK, trading principally in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and the Greater Midlands, and with additional outlets in Herefordshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. The company operates more than 400 stores and employs around 8,000 people – 1,100 of whom have a corporate email account.

For these 1,100 employees, email has become more than just a messaging platform – it is a combination of filing system, work record and audit trail. Users have grown reliant on the ability to refer to old email conversations, and consequently do not want to manage their mailboxes by deleting messages. As a result, data volumes on the company’s Microsoft Exchange email servers have grown rapidly, and some of the larger mailboxes were experiencing stability issues.

“Some users were dealing with the reliability problems by archiving email to PST files on their own desktop PCs,” explains Mark Woodyatt, IT Infrastructure Manager at Midlands Co-op. “This meant that the data wasn’t included in the corporate backup, so it could be lost if the machine it was stored on failed. We realised that we needed a proper corporate archiving solution, so we asked Portal Partnership to help us.”

A trusted partnership
Portal Partnership, an IBM Premier Business Partner with expertise across a wide range of IBM software technologies, had previously designed and implemented a backup solution for Midlands Co-op, based on IBM Tivoli Storage Manager software. This solution had proven to be a great success – introducing a two-stage process in which production data was first replicated to a secondary EMC disk storage array at the company’s disaster recovery site, and then copied to tape.

“Before Tivoli, when someone accidentally deleted a file, restoring it was a major issue for us,” comments Mark Woodyatt. “We had to look through numerous tapes to find the file, and then go through a lengthy restore process – which could take up to half a day and distract the IT team from more important tasks. With Tivoli Storage Manager, we can easily find and restore any file within minutes – so there’s no hassle for the IT department and we have a much better relationship with the users.”

Midlands Co-op was impressed by the quality of service delivered by Portal Partnership.

“IBM recommended Portal Partnership, and they did an outstanding job,” comments Richard Palmer, Systems Architect. “The Portal Partnership team were highly knowledgeable, both in terms of the technology itself and the business issues we were facing, and helped us deploy a solution exactly calibrated for our needs. When we decided to look at email archiving, they were naturally our first port of call.”

Policy-based archiving with IBM CommonStore
Portal Partnership helped Midlands Co-op deploy and configure IBM CommonStore for Microsoft Exchange, which enables policy-based email archiving. Emails over a certain age or size, or those that contain large attachments, are automatically identified and moved to an IBM Content Manager archive.

Archiving significantly reduces the data volumes that need to be processed by the production email servers – improving performance and stability. In addition, since archived emails do not need to be accessed frequently, they can be held on slower, lower-cost disk storage – ultimately reducing hardware costs.

“When we rolled out the IBM CommonStore solution to the IT department, we saw an immediate 59 percent reduction in mailbox utilisation,” comments Barry Hodge. “It was clear that the project had achieved one of its key objectives by reducing disk space across all IT teams.”

Looking to the future
“CommonStore has great potential, and there are several additional functionalities that we are considering implementing,” comments Mark Woodyatt. “For example, there is a feature that ensures that only one copy of an attachment is stored in the archive, even if it is attached to several emails. This could help us optimise storage efficiency even further. We are also considering using IBM Content Collector for file archiving.”

Barry Hodge adds: “The Portal Partnership team is always on hand to advise us about the next steps for our infrastructure. The combination of their expertise and the dedication of our in-house team has really delivered the goods on our CommonStore and Tivoli implementations, and we are enthusiastic about continuing to work with them in the future.”

Richard Palmer concludes: “These IBM technologies are already delivering real business benefits to Midlands Co-op – meeting the business case by solving our email stability issues and ensuring that we can respond quickly when emails or data need to be restored.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
Tivoli Storage Manager, CommonStore for Exchange Server, InfoSphere Content Collector for Email

Operating system:
Win NT/2003

Legal Information

IBM United Kingdom Limited PO Box 41 North Harbour Portsmouth Hampshire PO6 3AU The IBM home page can be found at ibm.com IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Commonstore and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. A current list of other IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at http://www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. Other company, product or service names may be trademarks, or service marks of others. IBM and Portal Partnership are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Portal Partnership makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. References in this publication to IBM products, programs or services do not imply that IBM intends to make these available in all countries in which IBM operates. Any reference to an IBM product, program or service is not intended to imply that only IBM’s product, program or service may be used. Any functionally equivalent product, program or service may be used instead. All customer examples cited represent how some customers have used IBM products and the results they may have achieved. Actual environmental costs and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. IBM hardware products are manufactured from new parts, or new and used parts. In some cases, the hardware product may not be new and may have been previously installed. Regardless, IBM warranty terms apply. This publication is for general guidance only. Photographs may show design models. © Copyright IBM Corp. 2009 All Rights Reserved.