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The project, which cost more than £500,000, has enabled it to unify backup for on-site, cloud and endpoint sources, do away with tape, and put in place a solid platform for compliance.
The company is currently engaged in 50 construction projects across the UK and is headquartered in Dartford, Kent, with a number of regional sites around the country. Its UK portfolio includes projects such as London’s Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5, Crossrail stations and the main package for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.
Laing O’Rourke’s IT infrastructure comprises three datacentres, which are 85% virtualised with VMware’s vSphere and Microsoft’s Hyper-V platforms. It has 350TB of active data in various application datasets including Microsoft Exchange, databases and web apps, plus large unstructured file data.
Its existing backup infrastructure, which used tape as a medium and was based on Symantec/Veritas software, had grown up piecemeal with lots of datasets and different backup products for each, with no unification between them, said infrastructure development analyst Paul Petty.
“They were all working to various degrees of success and with a management overhead that was a huge drain on resources,” he said.
“Symantec/Veritas at the main datacentre was OK, but as data grew, it didn’t allow us to flex, and we suffered performance issues.
“And as new technologies were taken on, it struggled to meet the new needs, so we ended up deploying new backup solutions.”
This kind of disparate environment led to data governance issues, said Petty. “We had no understanding of where data was. There was no single console and there were challenges around compliance.
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“With tapes, for example, we were reliant on spreadsheets to tell us where tapes were, what was on them, and so on, which all led to extra costs and admin.”
Symantec/Veritas was ruled out as a candidate to take on the revamp of Laing O’Rourke’s backup systems because of an unresolved issue with agent-based backup that had run for “nearly two years”, said Petty.
“We didn’t find anyone that covered the scale we were working to, except Commvault,” he said. “The key benefits are that it is centralised, with lots of sites covered by one management console. It is also disk and cloud only, even at remote sites.
“It has simplified things massively and allowed full visibility of data. It has freed up several staff days a week from backups and checking that they have worked. For the business, data governance has got a lot tighter, and that’s key.”
The backup regime varies according to the service protected, but largely consists of incremental forevers with synthetic fulls, mainly onto local disk and then to cloud. “It’s very light touch,” said Petty, “with a quick backup window.”
Full backups that used to take the best part of a week are now completed over a weekend, he said.
The cloud – Microsoft Azure – enables the company to set retention periods in a way that was very difficult to manage with tape. It also allows quick recovery of data that can be spun up from the cloud.