Aberystwyth University

Enhancing backup processes and introducing electronic vaulting to improve disaster recovery

Published on 29-May-2012

"The quality of Tectrade’s response was outstanding, and we had no qualms about selecting them ... Their experience from so many previous Tivoli implementations means that they were able to advise us on best practices, and we have definitely optimised a number of our backup management processes as a result." - Tim Davies, Assistant Director for ICT and Customer Services, Aberystwyth University

Customer:
Aberystwyth University

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United Kingdom

Solution:
Business Continuity, Business Resiliency, Cloud & Service Management, Service Management, Storage Infrastructure Optimization (SIO)

IBM Business Partner:
Tectrade

Overview

Aberystwyth University was founded in 1872, and has grown to become one of the leading academic institutions in Wales, with around 12,000 students, 2,000 staff, three faculties and 17 departments across three main campuses in Penglais, Llanbadarn and Gogerddan. It has been rated as the fourth best university in the UK for teaching and learning, and was named the best university in the country for student satisfaction by the Times Good University Guide 2010.

Business need:
With two separate backup solutions and an aging tape library, Aberystwyth University was spending too much time managing backups. The team also foresaw capacity issues as data volumes increased.

Solution:
The University worked with Tectrade to design a new backup architecture based on IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager, and installed new IBM System Storage® TS3310 tape libraries at both of its main data centres.

Benefits:
Consolidating to a single backup solution reduces software and management costs. Electronic vaulting enhances disaster recovery capabilities. Simpler backup management reduces workload for the ICT team.

Case Study

Aberystwyth University was founded in 1872, and has grown to become one of the leading academic institutions in Wales, with around 12,000 students, 2,000 staff, three faculties and 17 departments across three main campuses in Penglais, Llanbadarn and Gogerddan. It has been rated as the fourth best university in the UK for teaching and learning, and was named the best university in the country for student satisfaction by the Times Good University Guide 2010.

Like all modern universities, Aberystwyth sees IT as playing a vital role in its everyday operations. Its main systems are managed by two groups within the Information Services department: the Business Information Systems (BIS) division, which is responsible for corporate systems such as student records, finance and HR; and the ICT and Customer Services division, which runs the web site, file servers, intranet, email, virtual learning environment and other systems.

The need for a unified approach to backups

Until recently, these two groups used different tools to back up their data: Veritas NetBackup for the BIS systems and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for the ICT systems. Having two separate backup systems was complicated and expensive – both because it meant paying for two sets of software licences, and required effort to operate both backup systems.

All the data from both backups was moved to an aging tape library with LTO3 and LTO4 drives in the primary data centre, and copies of the tapes were manually moved off-site – a laborious process for a small team to manage. Moreover, as data volumes increased, the available backup window was becoming tighter, and the information services team was also concerned about the resilience of the landscape in case of disaster.

“We have two main data centres and each is capable of running all our systems if the other fails,” says Tim Davies, Assistant Director for ICT and Customer Services at Aberystwyth University. “However, we only had one tape library, so if our primary data centre had been completely incapacitated, we wouldn’t have been able to restore from tape at the other site. This was a vulnerability we were keen to address.”

Rethinking the architecture

The Aberystwyth team decided to completely rethink its backup landscape by implementing a single backup solution to manage all systems and updating its tape library infrastructure to increase performance and resilience.

“We considered several options for backup software, and came to the conclusion that expanding and upgrading our existing IBM Tivoli Storage Manager landscape would be the most cost-effective option,” says Tim Davies. “We already owned most of the licences we needed, and our in-house team already had a lot of experience and skill in running a Tivoli environment.”

At the same time, the university procured and deployed two new IBM System Storage TS3310 tape libraries – one at each of its two main data centres. The new libraries each have more than 80 active slots and four LTO5 drives, enabling much faster read/write speeds and eliminating concerns about the tightness of the backup window.

“With the new hardware in place, we had the foundation of a much-improved backup landscape,” says Tim Davies. “The remaining piece of the puzzle was to set up the Tivoli Storage Manager environment so that it would deliver the most benefit. We decided we needed some extra help on this due to the size and complexity of the project.”

Finding the right partner

After going out to the market, Tectrade, an IBM Premier Business Partner, which has vast experience of storage and backup projects, put together a competitive proposal that met all of Aberystwyth’s needs.

“The quality of Tectrade’s response was outstanding, and we had no qualms about selecting them,” says Tim Davies. “It was definitely the right choice because they helped us make a very smooth transition from our old backup landscape and we learned an enormous amount from shadowing their consultants while they were on-site. Their experience from so many previous Tivoli implementations means that they were able to advise us on best practices, and we have definitely optimised a number of our backup management processes as a result.”

Introducing electronic vaulting

Tectrade helped the university introduce electronic vaulting, whereby the systems at the primary data centre initially back up to the Tivoli server and tape library at the secondary site (and vice versa). When the backup is complete, the data is then copied back to the other data centre, so two copies of each backup are always available. In the event of a disaster at either site, the remaining data centre can restore all the relevant data and run all the systems until the other site is operational again.

“Besides offering additional resiliency, the electronic vaulting solution also significantly reduces the amount of manual tape handling we need to do,” explains Tim Davies. “Instead of moving all the tapes off-site, we only need to do this for a few of the corporate systems that have long-term storage requirements for legal reasons.”

Harnessing new capabilities

The university has also been impressed with the new capabilities of version 6 of the Tivoli Storage Manager software. Deduplication technology reduces the amount of data that needs to be moved across the network and stored on tape. The solution’s ability to back up data from a comprehensive range of systems (in Aberystwyth’s case, Exchange 2007, SharePoint 2007, SQL Server 2005 and 2008, and Oracle 10g and 11g) and platforms (Windows 2008, Gentoo Linux and Sun Solaris 10) was also a key advantage.

Tim Davies concludes: “The project has been a complete success for the Information Services department at Aberystwyth. We now have a single, easily managed backup landscape that offers much better protection against disaster and plenty of scalability for future growth. Our backups are running much faster, so we’re in no danger of overrunning our windows, and we have reduced the total cost of operation by reducing manual work and cutting licensing and media costs.”

About Tectrade

Tectrade is a specialist provider of technology solutions, consulting, cloud and managed services around information infrastructure. Its business is driven by the ability of its team to forge long-term relationships with customers and suppliers. Collaboration with partners is fundamental to Tectrade’s development and delivery of high quality and innovative technology and service solutions.

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
Storage: TS3310 Tape Library

Software:
Tivoli Storage Manager

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012. IBM United Kingdom Limited, PO Box 41, North Harbour, Portsmouth, Hampshire, PO6 3AU. Produced in the United Kingdom. May 2012. IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, System Storage 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: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. IBM and Tectrade are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor Tectrade 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.