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Safeguarding operational continuity

Real-time data replication and recovery across a distributed IT infrastructure – thanks to CA, Veolia Eau can now replicate, back up, recover and restore business-critical data with minimum effort across multiple sites. SNS Europe talks to Laurent Gazut, IT Director, Veolia Eau East Region.

 

Date: 1 Sep 2010

In its East Region, Veolia Eau’s data resides on 30 remote servers. These devices support more than 1,100 employees and currently hold around one terabyte of data. The company relied on local resources to run a tape backup routine each evening, making it difficult to centrally monitor and ensure data protection. The volume of data needing to be protected was also increasing, making the existing backup methods more costly.

Opportunity

By deploying CA XOsoft™ Replication and CA ARCserve® Backup, Veolia Eau is able to replicate, back up, recover and restore business-critical data with minimum effort across multiple sites. Continuous replication over the network to a separate site protects against data loss and enables rapid recovery within a matter of minutes. A high level of automation and a central dashboard means that less IT resource is required to monitor and manage the backup process. The solution is also cost-effective and scalable; the operational overhead is equivalent to half of Veolia Eau’s previous spend on backup tapes.

Benefits

By safeguarding the availability of business-critical information, Veolia Eau has:

  • Increased productivity
  • Minimised risk
  • Safeguarded operational continuity

As a result, Veolia Eau can better meet its contractual obligations and provide a superior service to its customers.

Accessing information for critical business processes

In today’s world of electronic communication and real-time information, organizations increasingly need reliable and continuous access to their applications and data for the success of their business. Loss of data, or delays in accessing information, can quickly have a negative impact on productivity, customer satisfaction and public image.

Veolia Eau, a division of the Veolia Environnement group, specialises in managing the entire water cycle on behalf of municipal and industrial clients. It relies on data for the smooth running of all operations — from core business activities, such as customer service, to more specialised operations including cartography and maintaining water pipes.

As Laurent Gazut, IT Director for Veolia Eau’s East Region, comments, “Loss of data would have a significant impact on all our operations but one of the biggest threats could be the inability to produce our contractual reports. In our region, we have more than 400 public sector clients for whom we are contractually bound to produce annual reports. Data loss could jeopardise this process with major repercussions for our clients and potentially our revenues.”

Minimising costs and risks

In its East Region, Veolia Eau’s data resides on 36 servers — of which 30 are located in branch offices. These HP devices serve more than 1,100 employees working at 60 offices across Eastern France and in the field, and currently hold around one terabyte of data. This data includes:

  • Plans for maintaining water pipes and plants and new construction projects
  • Correspondence records for consumer customers
  • Response to tender documentation
  • Operational performance statistics

The company was using backup tapes to safeguard this data, this approach, however, was no longer providing adequate protection. As Gazut explains, “Using backup tapes meant that we were heavily reliant on local staff to run a routine at the end of each day for our 30 remote servers. This not only made the operation prone to human error but made it difficult for the IT department to centrally monitor any backup routine problems and the integrity of data on the tapes.”

Veolia Eau’s backup process was also at risk from IT failures. As backup routines could only be run overnight, a server problem in the afternoon could mean the loss of a morning’s data, not only affecting productivity but also threatening quality of service for the company’s customers.

“Although we had not experienced any such problems, we identified our tape backup solution as a potential point of failure,” adds Gazut.

Coping with a growing volume of data

As well as needing higher levels of data protection, Veolia Eau wanted to lower the costs associated with its backup process. Like many companies, Veolia Eau had to continually invest in more tapes to keep up with its growing data volumes, which made the system more costly. Furthermore, with requests to recover data becoming increasingly frequent, the company needed quicker access to backup data. Veolia Eau therefore needed to find a cost-effective solution that could backup and recover large volumes of data to support future growth of the company’s client base and use of multi-media technologies.

Ensuring operational continuity through data recovery and replication

After thoroughly researching different vendor offerings, Veolia Eau East region selected a CA Recovery Management solution that would enable the company to automatically backup, store and recover data across all of its servers.

“Not only did CA offer the best technical solution, it also offered us greater flexibility and supported future growth of the business because the pricing structure was based on volumes rather than server licences,” comments Gazut.

The solution, which is founded on CA XOsoft™ Replication and CA ARCserve® Backup, continuously safeguards user electronic content management (ECM) on an IBM DB2 platform. Despite the fact that this is not a CA supported platform, Veolia Eau has not experienced any compatibility or performance issues since deploying CA XOsoft Replication and CA ARCserve Backup in 2005.

A range of Veolia Eau East’s applications, databases and files are continuously replicated between multiple sites using the CA solution. These include digital customer correspondence, technical reports and information for managing customer accounts.

Replication takes place over the network but with minimal impact on bandwidth. Veolia Eau has established parameters so that the replication process uses no more than 25 percent of network bandwidth during the day, but this can be modified to allow for higher data throughput outside of office hours.

Enabling automated and centralised replication across multiple sites

Data is automatically replicated from the company’s 30 remote servers and backed up to a device at the regional head office, which enables file recovery. In parallel, the data housed on four servers at the regional head office is also replicated and then stored at Veolia Propreté, another division of the Veolia Environnement group based at a different location.

Using the CA XOsoft dashboard, Veolia Eau can check that all 36 servers are replicating properly and immediately see if there is a problem.

“By ensuring that the data on every server is replicated to another site, we can safeguard operational continuity in the event of a major incident, such as a fire, which could otherwise have disastrous repercussions,” comments Gazut. “Because our data is continually being replicated in real-time, there is theoretically no risk of losing any information.”

The recovery time in such a situation is also greatly improved thanks to CA XOsoft Replication and CA ARCserve Backup. Data can also be recovered from any point in time using the CA solutions. “With real-time data replication, we can now restore data to a server in less than 30 minutes and load data onto new servers in less than an hour,” adds Gazut.

Cost-effective and scalable data recovery

As well as increasing, data protection levels the CA solution has proved to be highly cost-effective — despite growing data volumes.

Veolia Eau’s remote servers house between 4GB and 30GB of data depending on the size and activity of the local office. On top of this, the four servers at the regional head office account for almost one terabyte of data.

The CA solutions have completely automated the backup process by enabling centralisation, which means that the regional IS team is no longer reliant on local resources, thus freeing up staff time.

Veolia Eau has also been able to streamline other key processes as a result of the implementation. Replication facilitates the transfer of data from an obsolete server over to its replacement. As a result, server replacement is much faster and less costly.

“Although this was not one of our objectives in deploying the CA solution, it is turning out to be a major benefit and enables us to provide an outstanding level of service to our end users,” adds Gazut

To optimise data management across its server estate, Veolia Eau also deployed CA Storage Manager, which monitors the volume of data on individual devices and enables the company to proactively manage capacity and avoid over or under utilisation.

Preventing data loss improves customer service

With CA XOsoft Replication and CA ARCserve Backup, Veolia Eau can ensure that critical data is being continually backed up and is available for a speedy recovery if needed. This has helped to:

  • INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY Rapid data recovery translates into improved productivity for both Veolia Eau’s employees and IT staff. Further gains in IT productivity are also being realized due to the solution’s low administrative overhead and automated routines.
  • MINIMISE RISK Replication of real-time data safeguards Veolia Eau against data loss, which means the company is better placed to meet its contractual reporting requirements.
  • REDUCE COSTS Veolia Eau benefits from cost-savings through reduced spend on backup tapes for its remote servers. The financial benefits are much greater when productivity savings are also taken in account.

“Using the CA solutions has reduced our operational overheads,” comments Gazut. “The solution also helps to increase the productivity of IT staff and local personnel; the tasks associated with safeguarding our data have been reduced significantly while service is assured and data security improved.”

Ultimately, the CA Recovery Management solution enables Veolia Eau to provide its 1,100 employees with better access to critical information.

This enables them to provide a superior level of service to customers, as Gazut confirms, “Although the cost-savings are significant, the real added-value of the CA solution lies in our ability to provide a vastly superior level of service to our users — and therefore our customers — by ensuring against loss of data and the impact this would have on productivity and operations.”

With many industry sectors now operating on a 24x7 basis, business information must be constantly available and protected to safeguard critical processes, contractual obligations and customer service levels.

With data volumes constantly increasing, companies need to find a way to scale their approach to data protection without incurring higher costs.

By deploying an automated and centralised recovery management solution, organizations will not only be able to improve the availability of data but also increase productivity, reduce operational costs, and minimise risk — all of which contribute to higher customer service levels.

www.ca.com

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