Cloud-based services leader’s deduplication strategy cuts backup in half, provides instant restores at half the price

As the premier international provider of cloud-based workforce management software, WorkForce Software has to be sure that customer data is absolutely secure, disaster recovery protection is carried out daily, and data is retained for up to seven years, often within strict regional boundaries. When these requirements collided with the company’s growth, backup and DR started to fall behind.

Decentralized Protection Untenable

“We had separate tape libraries set up in each of the regions we were serving, and different local teams,” reports Rob Williams, WorkForce Software’s senior backup administrator. “It was a real pain... The only things that were consistent were the need to back up data every day and get it off-site, and the amount of admin time that it all took—which was way too much... Backup was always going on, and file recovery was a nightmare.... It was slow and ate up lots of admin hours.”

Finding the Right Deduplication

Williams joined WorkForce Software to help the company standardize and simplify data protection globally.

“I looked at all the dedupe vendors,” he explains, “and I was impressed with what Quantum offered. The deduplication is great, the performance is fast, and the cost is literally half that of competitors …the cost savings are huge.”

The new system puts two DXi appliances in each of the primary regions—the United States, Europe, and Australia. Backups are written to one DXi every day and immediately replicated to the second. The difference has been dramatic.

Faster Backup and Instantaneous Restores

“In the U.S., where the backups used to take 30 hours and were always overlapping, the daily backups are now completed in only 14 hours—including all the databases, records, and VMs,” reports Williams. “And that time now normally includes off-site DR protection as well because the data is replicated immediately.

“The high deduplication rates also mean we don’t need much network bandwidth—in one of the Australian offices, we replicate a 900GB database every day over a 2MB link. The whole system is great.”

When files have to be recovered, the benefit is even more dramatic.

“We set up two backup methods to make recovery really fast,” Williams explains. “One backup is... in NBU's own format, but we also write the database files directly to... the DXi in native format. And the DXi replicates that copy to the DR site as well. So we can access the data directly from the DXi’s NFS disk share at either location. There’s no getting media. No rebuilding the system. No finding disk space. And no admin overhead—it’s just there. What used to take a day or more and hours of babysitting is instantaneous.

Integration with OST is Key

Another important feature is the integration between DXi and NetBackup’s OpenStorage Technology (OST) API.

“It’s critical that our process be coordinated through NetBackup to minimize manual work and to be sure that all the backup catalogs are kept consistent,” says Williams. “NetBackup kicks off both duplication operations and replication jobs, so the master servers are all up-to-date automatically at both sites, while the data itself moves directly from one DXi to the other. It makes the process fast and automatic. ”