Law firm ditches tape for the cloud

Law firm Middletons has given up on tape and instead adopted a cloud storage provider for its archival needs.

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Middletons, an Australian law firm with offices in Melbourne and Sydney, recently moved its backup from a tape-based solution to an online system.

A recent review of the existing tape-based solution revealed several inefficiencies that were causing the business trouble. Particularly, since the system’s inception, the number of tapes required for backup had increased significantly and the company’s backup windows had been stretched time and again.

The law firm initially looked to online storage to solve these problems, as many promised to reduce backup windows and quicken the speed of restores. But the company found it was too costly to implement an online storage solution in house, thanks to the cost of new hardware and software it would require.

The firm consulted online backup company Global Storage to review its backup needs. The vendor presented an alternative to both traditional backup and in-house online backup, in the form of the managed backup service DataReady.

The off-site data backup service automatically transfers data every night to secure off-site storage facilities. Employing the service, Middletons has been able to completely eliminate tape from its operation.

The service has had several other positive effects, including a reduction in backup windows.

Sam Sofianos, Director, Technology Services at Middletons, says: “We now have the capability to automatically backup data off site and we have been able to significantly reduce our backup windows.”

The service is complemented by data deduplication, which makes sure that only new or changed data is backed up, rather than a whole copy of the entire set of data at each backup. Given this reduction in the amount of data that needs storage, the data can be transferred across smaller links and a backup can be completed much faster.

“Our backup windows have been significantly reduced, which puts less pressure on our infrastructure as less data needs to be transmitted. This gives us the ability to have multiple backups per day and mission-critical data can be backed up as frequently as at 15-minute intervals,” Sofianos says.

The solution also provides fast recovery of data, with restore times being reduced from hours and days to a matter of minutes. The system provides online recovery of a minimum of three months of data with the option to extend to multi-year retention.

As the system is managed by an outside company, the Middletons staff that previously had taken care of the tape backup are now free to work on other projects.

“Outsourcing our backup has eased the pressure on our team, as less human resources are required to manage backup,” Sofianos says.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the online backup service has been the ease of recovering lost data. Specifically, the company is able to provide access to a greater number of prior backups; under a tape-based system, the company could only access the backup from the previous day. With the online system, the firm has access to three months’ worth of data.

Also adding value is the service’s GlobalView user web portal, which allows users to monitor and manage the DataReady system.

Sofianos says: “One of the best things is that we can manage our restores online with GlobalView. We have full visibility of our backups and the peace of mind that our backups are being monitored and we will be alerted if any part of our backup fails.”
Importantly, the service didn’t require any capital expenditure. This made it more cost effective and hastened ROI.

With the online backup system in place, Global Storage can offer Middletons a complete disaster recovery solution, using the backup system as a base. This means that the disaster recovery system would require less of an outlay: it’s already 70 — 80% funded by the managed backup service.

In fact, this prospect of an easier disaster recovery deployment was a key part of the DataReady deal.

“The disaster recovery add-on has made it attractive for us,” Sofianos says.

The law firm is currently evaluating Global Storage’s fully managed disaster recovery service, EnvironmentReady, as a second stage.

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