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The Blue Cross is a registered UK animal welfare charity whose mission is to provide animal care and promote companionship that enhances animal and human lives. It offers a wide portfolio of services that range from treating pets whose owners cannot afford private veterinary treatment to finding permanent homes for unwanted or abandoned animals.

The Blue Cross organisation is spread throughout the UK at more than 20 sites including adoption centers, hospitals, shops and eleven regional offices. Each office generates valuable business data on a daily basis – data that needs to be protected in the event of IT failure, human error or some other disaster.

The need for robust, centralised backup

The Blue Cross already had a backup and recovery strategy in place that, in theory, would help the organisation recover data lost following an IT disaster. In the past, employees at each of the regional offices had been using a local PC as a file server and would regularly save their files to it. Using a third-party backup software application, these eleven local PCs were then automatically backed up over an ADSL line on a daily basis to a central server located at the company’s headquarters. The Blue Cross IT team wanted a more effective solution that removed the reliance on the local PC as a file-storing device and gave higher central visibility of the data backup and sychronisation process.

Wayne Morris, project implementation manager at The Blue Cross said: “Our mission was to ensure we had the most resilient and reliable backup and recovery solution that would completely eliminate the risk of data loss and all the unnecessary downtime associated with it. It would also have to be a centrally-managed solution with automated replication capabilities.”

After examining a number of storage solutions, The Blue Cross decided to test two Adaptec Snap Server 210 network attached storage (NAS) devices. One unit was installed at The Blue Cross head office in Burford while the second unit was placed in one of its remote regional offices. For the next two months the Snap Servers performed flawlessly, giving the Blue Cross IT team an insight into how easy and reliable Snap Servers could be when it came to backing up to, replicating between, and recovering data across its multi-site environment.

At the end of the test period Morris was in no doubt that the Snap Severs would provide exactly what The Blue Cross needed. He immediately purchased 12 Snap Server 210s each with 500GB capacity, a Snap Server 520 with 1TB capacity and, most importantly, multi-site licenses for Adaptec’s Snap Enterprise Data Replicator (EDR) software that would link all the distributed Snap Servers into a single, centrally managed backup and recovery solution.

The network takes shape

The Snap Server 520 was deployed at The Blue Cross headquarters and eleven Snap Server 210s installed at each regional office for use as local network backup devices. Using the Snap EDR replication software the Blue Cross IT team configure the Snap Server 210s to automatically back up once a day to the Snap Server 520 over the existing ASDL line. To give an extra layer of resiliency, the Snap Server 520 is also backed up each day to tape, which is stored at an off-site location overnight.

The remaining Snap Server 210 is held by The Blue Cross as a field replacement unit ready to be deployed and fully operational within a matter of hours should any of the active Snap Server 210s get damaged or suffer some kind of unexpected failure.

When it came to putting the theory into practice, Morris was surprised at how easy the Snap Servers were to set up: “Installing the Snap Servers was a simple matter of plugging in the power and network cables. Once they were up and running it was a logical process of configuring the network, setting the backup and replication policies and then letting the Snap Servers do their job, which they’ve been doing successfully ever since.”

He concludes: “The central management capability of the Snap Storage Manager GUI was impressive. We’re able to manage every device around the country, whether we’re creating RAID volumes or setting new backup and replication requirements, all from one central location. In addition, the clear and concise reporting capabilities that come as standard have helped us make the most of our available storage resources. These reports enable us to monitor usage patterns at each office and proactively decide the most appropriate time to archive data and free up capacity. As a result, I’m more than happy to recommend Adaptec’s Snap Servers to anyone looking for an easy-to-use, but highly effective networked backup and recovery solution.”

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