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France TV repatriates backup and archive from public cloud

France Télévisions Publicité couldn’t always get to critical data, so decided to repatriate backup and archiving from the cloud to on-site locations, with help from a managed service

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France Télévisions Publicité moved its backup to cloud storage, but now the advertising arm of the publicly owned France TV has repatriated its most critical data back on-site in a move that has boosted performance and enhanced control over its assets.

France Télévisions Publicité handles advertising for 40 TV channels and 30 related websites. The organisation had been 100% cloud with Rubrik backup and archiving and S3 and Blob storage from public cloud providers AWS and Microsoft Azure.

That critical data included contracts and client files, as well as application data from the Francetv Pub Exchange marketplace.

The backup dataset did not include advertisement media, but the volume was still substantial – in excess of 250TB – and access to contractual data was often required.

“We had already deployed Rubrik with archiving in the public cloud, and with that came the difficulties of repatriating data that come with the cloud,” said France Télévisions Publicité technical director Pascal Laffut.

“So we decided to review the way we did archiving and the storage used for archiving on-site. Also, there was critical business data that we needed control over, and it is for those reasons that we made the choice to repatriate.”

For the organisation, the scope of the backup dataset was well defined, so the public cloud’s ability to extend its storage capacity infinitely was of secondary importance. Management of data volume was something Laffut’s team had mastered and they were able to estimate the cost of storing backup on-prem in the long term, and therefore the feasibility of the project.

Only Rubrik was retained as part of the new architecture deployed. In terms of storage hardware, it would be based on NetApp’s object storage StorageGRID, which was deployed with the help of integrator Scasicomp and its B-Zen managed backup-as-a-service offering.

Laffut explained the choice: “We have worked for a long time with Scasicomp, and B-Zen fitted the bill for our needs perfectly. This was the first time we would depend on a managed service, but we chose a solution from a supplier with which we had a long relationship and it was a way of testing a new approach for us.”

Deployment was decided on in 2020, just before the first Covid lockdown, but it was able to go ahead with a two-phase roll-out.

“Despite a difficult year, we carried out the deployment with only slight delays to plans that are insignificant in the light of the overall situation,” said Laffut.

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One person was nominated internally to be responsible for backup, and according to the level of difficulty in setting up new backup sources and their availability at the time, they could pass tasks on to B-Zen.

“If it was a small change needed to a workflow, we’d do that ourselves,” said Laffut. “But if there were complex settings to deal with, Scasicomp would step in. It’s a smart way to share tasks with Scasicomp.”

Scasicomp delivers regular activity reports, while meetings with the supplier ensure the service is delivered according to the terms of the contract. Backups are verified regularly, and the technical team accesses data from time to time, notably when business demands access to archived contracts. Data is provided to users on the day they ask for it, which wasn’t always possible with a 100% cloud solution.

The infrastructure has been sized to absorb five years of activity in archiving alone. “To ensure the success of the S3 archiving service, there will be a need to grow the infrastructure,” said Laffut. “This is all new for us, but I’m pretty confident about scalability of the solution.”

In parallel with the on-prem backup infrastructure deployment, Laffut’s team has rented colo space to deploy hardware to complement its own equipment on-site. “The colo operator is Greendata, but it just hosts for us – we look after management of all the infrastructure we have at their site,” said Laffut.

Using this colo provider will allow France Télévisions to have two geographically separated sites for its backup data, but that is beyond the scope of the current project. Deployment of the backup service is the first stage of a much larger strategy.

Its objective is much more ambitious and aims for a hybrid cloud strategy for the group. “We want to offer other services via our hybrid cloud setup, such as application hosting, S3 storage and databases,” said Laffut. “On the backup side, we are going to extend B-Zen to applications that need a backup component.”

Another stage in the strategy is set for completion in 2022 – the activation of a business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) plan.

“We started with archiving, then we added hosting services for applications,” said Laffut. “Now the objective is to offer a service platform from our datacentres and the BCDR plan will be set up to match the criticality of our applications.”

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