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Backup can become complex as the years go by, especially when your data is expanding by 20% a year.
That’s what had happened to France-based industrial refrigeration specialist Clauger, which rationalised three complex legacy backup systems onto a single Cohesity multi-node backup system and gained rapid search and restore, with much smoother management processes overall.
“We had been using three different backup systems,” says Olivier Boute, head of IT at Clauger. “As systems got older, we had to compensate for their failings by bringing in other tools, which is how we ended up at three.”
Boute says one of the most painful maintenance tasks was to verify every morning that the night’s backup jobs had run without a hitch.
“The main problem was that backups were there chiefly for restores in case files were accidentally deleted by our staff,” he says. “And that was numerous times every week, for 1,500 people at Clauger in France, plus those at subsidiaries in Spain, Italy, Morocco and Algeria that depend on the same datacentre.
“But for each of those restores, the first task was to find the file to restore. And if you didn’t know exactly where it was saved and when, you spent ages groping about looking for it.”
Cohesity: Like hyper-convergence for backup
With data volumes growing at about 20% a year, in 2018, Clauger arrived at a ceiling at which its ancient systems started to fail. The opportunity to replace them with something more efficient presented itself. Around 20 integrators were contacted and 10 responded with proposed solutions. Among those was Cohesity, with a backup product that was attractive because it came in appliance format.
“We didn’t know about Cohesity before, but we found it immediately interesting because it took the same principle as hyper-converged infrastructure that we were using in our VMware VM [virtual machine] farms,” says Boute. “You just have to add a node to grow capacity.
“The other thing that interested us about the Cohesity appliance is that it is not only for backup, but can also serve as a NAS box. And at the time, we also needed to replace our Windows servers, so we were able to kill two birds with one stone.”
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But it was a bit of a leap in the dark. “Did this solution work as well as we had been told? We weren’t certain,” says Boute. “And at the time, Cohesity had hardly arrived in France. So we asked to meet one of their customers to hear about their experience of using it. Then we did a POC [proof of concept] over two months.”
Boute was enthused by the test results. “Everything was very simple and quick,” he says. “To configure a backup, for example, previously used to take more than half an hour. Now it takes a few minutes. It is no longer necessary to verify that the backups are successful because we get a report from the system immediately.
“When it comes to restores, all it takes is typing the file name in the search tool and it is recalled instantly. You even have the possibility to restore to where you want. Restores only take a couple of minutes, compared to more than 10 previously.”
Asynchronous replication in just a minute
After testing, Clauger placed the order, for 200TB of capacity across three Cohesity DC4200 nodes in the main datacentre, plus three more as secondary capacity for redundancy, with asynchronous replication between the two.
“Even though it isn’t a dual-write to both Cohesity appliances, we can see that you only have to wait a minute for the second to be an exact replica of the first,” says Boute.
Every night, Clauger backs up 45TB of documents, which takes two or three hours depending on how many exist on previous backups. Part of that data might already be on Cohesity in zones reserved for NAS usage. The rest corresponds to production VM and stored on the disks of the hyper-converged infrastructure that run these servers.
Hosting office documents in production
The firm intends that Cohesity capacity will hold secondary data. The nodes combine spinning disk HDDs and NVMe flash, which helps to accelerate writes – or even reads on recently written data.
“We’ve never known performance problems,” says Boute. “Apart, that is, from our CAD users, who might have 300 or 400 documents open at the same time. For these workloads, we haven’t used Cohesity but instead use server-attached storage. Outside this extreme use case, all other users store their productivity documents on the Cohesity appliance.”
From the admin point of view, one graphic web console shows capacity usage on the drives. “We buy extra capacity when we’re down to 20% free space, but that’s only happened once since 2018,” says Boute.
Each DC4200 appliance can hold eight storage blades with 24TB, 48TB or 96TB of disk capacity. When the chassis is full, all that is needed is another that can then be equipped with more blades, up to a system ceiling of about 700TB.
Boute is so satisfied with the Cohesity deployment that he plans to roll out more to Clauger’s US subsidiaries, which are currently stuck with an old, complex system.