Protecting from malware and malicious threats

Innovative hybrid cloud backup and DR solution ensures leading housing association has always on access to systems and data.

Trent & Dove is a respected housing association that provides affordable homes across East Staffordshire, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire. A recent survey of tenants gave the association an overall satisfaction rating of 93% placing Trent & Dove amongst the very best housing associations in the UK. Dan Goodhead Infrastructure & Support Manager explained that the association currently manages nearly 5,800 properties, but has ambitions to manage over 10,000 by 2020. Given the nature of their business, having reliable and consistent access to IT systems, especially out of hours is a vital business requirement.

“Our mission is to transform the homes, lives and neighbourhoods of our community for the better. Without reliable access to IT, especially out of hours, that mission could be derailed. That’s why business continuity and data protection are so important to us.” Said Dan.

Trent and Dove utilises a fully virtualised primary IT infrastructure platform at its Trinity Square headquarters, based on industry leading reference architecture from Cisco, Dell EMC and VMware. Offsite backup and Disaster Recovery capabilities are based at one of the association’s assisted living premises. This DR solution was specified 5 years ago and made up of repurposed equipment. Since the primary infrastructure installation, data growth and the number of hosts has increased substantially adding strain to the offsite DR solution. Whilst DR replication and recovery has been repeatedly validated, the executive teams at Trent and Dove were looking to strengthen DR capabilities from an increased threat of malware and malicious threats, to safeguard reputation of the business.

Dan Goodhead said, “The existing DR & Backup infrastructure was fully functional, but due to data growth and the age of the technology, was beginning to slow down. We needed a new, scalable, high performance solution before performance affected the business. The new solution would need to work seamlessly with our HQ setup and deliver improved performance whilst using our existing comms infrastructure!”

Dan Goodhead, Trent & Dove

“We wanted a new solution, but we didn’t just want to replace what we had with like for like technology, we believed there are better ways.” Added Dan.

And that’s where Synapse360 came in. Long standing IT partner Synapse360 suggested that given the performance requirements and comms constraints, a cloud based Disaster Recovery service allied to an enhanced backup capability at HQ would give Trent and Dove improved, scalable performance and much greater levels of protection without the need to upgrade the network …and without major capital outlay.  These two elements would be fully integrated to offer Trent and Dove complete protection,  that would be easy to manage.

Synapse360’s DR as a Service solution is powered by industry leading Zerto technology and would eliminate the association’s reliance on either HQ or their secondary site, data would be backed up to Synapse360’s secure cloud platform. The resulting solution would allow Trent and Dove to recover their entire data centre, individual servers, applications and user/file data into the Synapse360 Cloud (from any point in time). The enhanced backup solution eliminates the need for tape and supplies the business with much needed offsite backup capabilities.

The Zerto technology underpinning the DR replicates at the hypervisor layer, (as opposed to storage LUN-based systems), which allows for greater flexibility and granular control. .  Recovery Point Objectives are reduced to seconds and Recovery Time Objectives to minutes!”

‘The Synapse360 solution was well thought out’, said Dan. “It wasn’t just a case of bolting DRaaS on what we already have. The enhanced backup solution was tightly integrated with the Disaster Recovery capabilities and the Synapse360 Cloud to provide us with comprehensive protection for both DR and backups in a true hybrid cloud deployment. In fact one of the storage arrays at our secondary site was re-purposed to support the enhanced HQ backup.”

After having seen a proof of concept validate the DR capabilities, Trent and Dove commissioned Synapse360 to deliver the project. Greg Hudson, Technical Architect at Synapse360 said,

“We have worked very closely with Trent and Dove over a number of years and we understood the criticality of data availability and protection. The solution we architected gave them the latest technology, the highest levels of protection and recoverability and the re-purposing of existing technology enabled us to meet their budget requirements.”

 

The backup solution uses next generation Dell EMC Avamar software which integrates with Trent & Dove’s existing Data Domain backup appliance and replaces the legacy (2010) Backup Exec software. Avamar solves the challenges associated with traditional backup, providing fast daily full backups and reliable recovery for virtual and physical environments and business critical applications. Avamar can reduce the size of backup data at the client before transfer across the network, so only  unique data segments are moved during daily full backups and stored to disk, significantly  reducing  backup storage and network traffic and in consequence, backup times.

 

An additional Dell EMC Avamar appliance was deployed into the Synapse360 cloud and connected to the Data Domain storage. The means that Trent and Dove’s entire backup catalogue is available in the Synapse360 Cloud and usable. A significant advantage of the solution is that the Synapse360 Cloud is highly scalable representing a cost avoidance alternative to upgrading the onsite Data Domain or purchasing and maintaining a second backup appliance in a remote site.

"Whilst the integration was detailed work, the team at Synapse360 walked us through each element to ensure it met our requirements and that we are able to get the best from the system. It’s a lot easier to manage than the old system!” Said Dan.

 

After a thorough period of testing the solution has now gone live and already Trent and Dove are noticing the benefits. Backup times have been reduced by 50% and network traffic by up to 99%. Dan and his team are able to run non-disruptive DR testing and as there is no longer the requirement to have kit sat at a secondary site, valuable space has been freed up for accommodation.

 

‘‘We put our trust in Synapse360 and they have helped us protect our tenants and our business. We now have full confidence that systems and data have the most appropriate levels of protection and recoverability, both now and over the coming years.” Said Dan.

 

The views represented are those of Trent and Dove based on their experience of the solution.

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Synapse360 has over 17 years’ experience in infrastructure design and deployment. We are one the UK’s leading providers of converged infrastructure solutions and Synapse360 are fully accredited with Dell-EMC, VMware and Cisco.

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