Financial services leader Old Mutual has replaced its previous tape-based data protection systems for its many Web servers with the automated disk-based Attix5 Backup Professional solution. Kevin Clark, Old Mutual web infrastructure manager says that not only is Attix5 Backup Professional far better in terms of guaranteeing data protection, but it is a lower cost solution and provides for a much faster restore of data in the event of any loss.
Developed in South Africa, Attix5 Backup Professional offers Old Mutual a web-based data protection solution which backs up computer-based data over the Internet to remote servers. Based on the highest levels of data encryption available today, it automatically initiates, scans data for any changes and transmits only the changes to the offsite server.
Backup Professional is also installed in a number of local corporate data centres located in and around Cape Town. Through Attix5, Old Mutual backs them up to Internet Solutions in Johannesburg.
"We have been using Attix5 Backup Professional for nearly a year to back up the three data centres and about 400 GB of data which are at the heart of Old Mutual's web infrastructure," says Clark. "Our main reason for moving to Attix5 is that it gives us the ability to recover far more quickly because it uses disk-based media rather than tape."
"We create backups in Cape Town at night with a further site, (that of Internet Solutions located in Johannesburg), adding an additional level of redundancy. That provides for excellent disaster recovery resilience," he says.
Transmitting 400 GB of data over an Internet connection is clearly a daunting - even ridiculous - suggestion. But that is not how Attix5 solves this challenge. "One of the advantages of Attix5 is that it kicks in late at night when our leased lines are largely idle in any event. Because it identifies changes to the data at a binary level, the actual amount transmitted to maintain a complete and fully up-to-date backup is very small. In fact, it is just a fraction of a percent of the total data which is transmitted nightly."
"And since it uses existing connectivity infrastructure, switching from the previous tape-based solution to Attix5 did not require the installation of any additional links or lines," he adds. "It is pretty quick, too. While some time is necessary for the solution to examine the full data set to identify changes, the average backup window is about two hours."
Michael Law, managing director of Attix5 says: "The forthcoming release of Version 5 of our software will significantly reduce backup times, as well as reduce the disk footprint and bandwidth utilisation. This is in line with our process of continual development of our products with the ultimate objective of enhancing the customer experience."
Managing the solution is straightforward and gives Old Mutual's Web department valuable insight into the state of its backups. "The Attix5 console quickly gives us the necessary information and it has better reporting. Where previously, our problem was too much spurious information, the console now alerts us of any problems," says Clark.
It has often been pointed out that a backup is only as good as its ability to restore. This is a critical area in which Clark is happy to report that Attix5 excels. "If a server crashes, Attix5 gives us the ability to recover quickly. As an example, it was recently necessary to restore a 6 GB virtual server. With the tape system, it would have taken half a day at least; with Attix5 it took about an hour," he says.
That, combined with the fact that Attix5 licensing for complete protection costs about the same as the tape system, makes it a firm favourite in the Web technology department. "Furthermore with server virtualisation becoming a common configuration, Attix5 allows for a virtual server to be backed up to a single location. With tape, that was simply not possible."