Case Study: British Library

British Library protects rising data volumes with Symantec solution from S3.

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British Library protects rising data volumes with Symantec solution from S3.

Customer Profile

The British Library based in St Pancras, London, and Boston Spa, West Yorkshire, is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides the academic, business, research and scientific communities with outstanding information services and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection.

Need for Speed

From the British Library at Boston Spa site, Paul Wooler, Senior Technical Analyst, explains the business drivers that led to the search for a new backup solution,

“We wanted to take the pressure off the existing tape-intensive backup system used to support day-to-day business operations. We were exceeding backup windows, and having to run backups during the day, which slowed down both the backups and other applications.”

As a consequence of these issues, the Library was performing full backups less frequently and relying more on incremental ones. Solid State Solutions (S3), the Library’s long-standing technology partner, suggested Symantec NetBackup appliances as an answer to meeting backup windows and speeding up both backups and restores.

Competitive Cost Without Compromise

Cost, a proven track record and functionality were three compelling reasons for the Library’s decision to purchase the Symantec NetBackup appliance solution recommended by S3.

Paul says,

“There were a number of factors influencing our eventual choice: we found the Symantec NetBackup solution very competitively priced compared with the alternatives we considered. Furthermore, we’d already been using NetBackup on our infrastructure for some years, and the appliances would integrate with backup software already in place. Additional features such as integrated deduplication, NetBackup Accelerator and virtual tape libraries have produced a manifold reduction in backup times. So staying within the Symantec fold would protect our investment to date. These factors aside, it offered an effective and efficient backup solution that would meet our needs both in the short term and in the future.”

A Smooth Switchover

In March 2013, the Library purchased a solution comprising four Symantec NetBackup 5220 enterprise backup appliances, each capable of storing up to 36 terabytes of data. This went live a few months later. Two appliances were installed at Euston Road, London and two at Boston Spa, giving the Library the option to carry out cross-site replication for even greater resilience.

In the lead-up to the migration, Paul felt confident about the impending switchover:

“For technical reasons, we had to go for the big bang approach, with implementation over a couple of days. While there’s always potential risk associated with any IT project, we’d carried out careful planning and preparation, and with S3’s hands-on help the transition went smoothly.”

Faster, Fuller Backup

Today, the Library benefits from having a cost-effective, streamlined disk-based backup solution, which reliably backs up its operational business data. This includes finance data, Microsoft Exchange emails and SQL database data, and other business databases such as the cataloguing database, as well as some archival data.

Paul observes,

“We have a mixture of back-office and front-of-house data and it’s about matching the right solution to the data. In reducing backup times, the NetBackup appliance solution enables us to meet all our backup windows and helps us to protect our rapidly changing operational data with full and frequent backups. Having the option for cross-site replication between Boston Spa and London also strengthens our business continuity capability. As such, we are looking at making this an integral part of our disaster recovery strategy.”

Built-in Future-Proofing

The solution has the flexibility to accommodate the Library’s evolving data storage needs. It has subsequently been upgraded with an extra shelf of disk at the London site to expand capacity.

Among the many NetBackup Appliance features is the ability to perform virtual server backups. Paul says,

“We’re pleased to have the potential to unlock this capability, as we’re considering moving away from our current VMware backup solution in the future.”

In purchasing the solution, the Library opted for a capacity-based licensing model, which is based on data volumes, rather than the traditional model of licensing each appliance, application and feature that might be required. This means that the solution can expand in line with rising data volumes without introducing administrative complexity.

Throughout these developments, the Library has the continued support of S3, who has supplied and supported much of the Library’s storage and backup infrastructure for eight years. Paul comments,

“They’re always available if we need them. Our S3 account manager is in regular contact to check that the solutions and services we have in place are continuing to meet our requirements and to keep us up to speed on new developments that might help us.”

The Impact of the Solution

  • A cost-effective solution with the benefits of faster, disk-based backup and recovery
  • Increased business resilience, with cross-site replication capability
  • An easy-to-manage streamlined solution
  • Flexibility to grow the solution to handle expanding data volumes
  • Long-term professional support from a trusted technology provider

British Library

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