For a drinks company with operations and IT infrastructures across 42 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), consolidating and centralising IT systems and business data is a substantial task. Pernod Ricard turned to the cloud for backup and disaster recovery and streamlined its IT systems and data in the region.
In each of the 42 regions it operates, Pernod Ricard has a network of IT systems incorporating email, enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM) and business intelligence (BI). This network of IT systems contained raw data vital to the operation of the drinks company. How this data is secured, backed up and made available to users is a major task for its IT team.
For many years the company had a siloed approach to backing up data, says Simon Bennett, EMEA information systems director. The local IT teams in each of the regions work as a separate entity and have control over their own individual network. This results in a variety of backup and disaster recovery systems. This increases complexity because each of these disaster recovery products had different features, different processes for backup and different contractual agreements with service providers.
But Pernod Ricard decided it was time to adopt a more streamlined and strategic approach and optimise backups and disaster recovery for its EMEA operations.
A centralised and consistent backup and disaster recovery strategy would help Pernod Ricard ensure all its business critical data is securely protected and stored offsite, according to Bennett.
Choosing backup supplier
So the IT team has embarked on a five year roll-out of backup and disaster recovery services, he says. It selected Backup Technology’s cloud backup offerings and its managed services to optimise Pernod Ricard’s full backup infrastructure throughout the region as well as to provide a remote disaster recovery service.
For the drinks company, service provider Backup Technology decided to deploy Asigra Cloud Backup software for online data backup. The IT team also charged the services provider to transform what had been an ad hoc approach into a single, highly effective backup system, while establishing a disaster recovery strategy with defined recovery time and recovery point objectives, Bennett says.
The IT department opted to approach the project in a phased manner by picking the UK and Germany as the first two locations to implement the replacement backup and disaster recovery services.
“Both countries had immediate requirements for an online solution because of their larger data sizes and server numbers,” Bennett says. “They were also important because they would provide a good ‘proof of concept’ reference point for other Pernod Ricard offices in the region.”
Following the implementations in the UK and Germany, the company’s operations in Russia, Turkey, Switzerland and Ukraine prepared for a backup facelift. “We ensured that the new solution was in place prior to the termination of those contracts, so Pernod Ricard was always protected,” says Bennett.
“Targets for each year have been met, with 75% of Pernod Ricard’s EMEA offices set to be using the solution by the end of 2014.”
Distributed IT challenges
But the project had its challenges and complexities. Pernod Ricard wanted different layers of backup services in different regions depending on the region’s size and revenue share.
Other challenges included poor internet connection speeds in some locations, difficulty in delivering hardware to different regions, and operating system language barriers, for example between French and Russian Windows servers.
“In a decentralised business with 42 markets across EMEA, each with relatively small systems and data sizes, the key challenge for us was to find a solution and integrator which could scale effectively across this landscape,” Bennett says
With Asigra cloud backup and the service provider’s expertise, the IT team is able to offer local backup for LAN speed recovery of data; offsite backup for secure long term protection, with long backup history; as well as a complimentary virtual disaster recovery service.
All backup monitoring is performed through Backup Technology’s web portal, so all Pernod Ricard EMEA IT staff have full visibility of their backups, 24/7, from anywhere in the world, says Bennett. “This provides a regimented backup and disaster recovery process across Pernod Ricard’s EMEA operations,”
The backup project has improved the company’s ability to ensure all its business critical data is quickly and securely protected and stored offsite. The new systems protect in excess of 350TB of data for Pernod Ricard and offers virtual disaster recovery services to each market, securing over 200 servers.
The project has also freed up the in-house IT team to concentrate on the day-to-day running of the networks.
Real-life disaster recovery test
Pernod Ricard has had to invoke the disaster recovery system twice in a “live” situation which, the company says, was executed smoothly. Recovery of individual files, databases and emails happens on a regular basis, Bennett says. “This not only quantifies the success but also illustrates how the combination of a number of technologies has led to a substantial improvement in our quality of service.”
Based on the live scenarios, the IT team gives feedback to Backup Technology, which then improves recovery speeds and adds features the company wants in its disaster recovery infrastructure.
The drinks giant now has a centralised strategy which gives it greater confidence about managing its critical data. Its IT staff has full visibility of backups, 24/7, from anywhere in the world.
“I now know that the critical systems and business data across the region are protected and there is a recovery solution which is tested each year. That’s a great weight off my mind,” Bennett concluded.