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Shelter in the Cloud

Shelter in the Cloud

Clayton Utz implements private Cloud for improved data recovery and backup

System outages in Brisbane as a result of the Queensland floods in 2011 and concerns about data retention were the catalysts for Sydney-based law firm, Clayton Utz, to implement a private Cloud in late 2011.

The private Cloud includes an off-site data centre located in Sydney, and Veeam backup and replication. In the advent of another natural disaster, the firm can recover its backed up data from the off-site data centre.

Clayton Utz’s senior infrastructure architect, Steven de Andrade, said its storage environment consisted of more than 100 virtual machines servicing 1700 staff Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra and Darwin.

“Our data growth has been exponential because the lawyers need to save all of their data for legal purposes. We will archive the data, store it and keep it for up to 14 years,” he said.

This data growth meant that restore times were lengthy and, as a result, recovery point and time objectives were not being met by the IT department.

Andrew Fisher, the firm’s national infrastructure manager, said it went back to a ‘grass roots’ storage management program to figure out what data it had and the best way of archiving that data.

“Before implementing a private Cloud, we couldn’t make educated guesses with storage requirements. It was all ad hoc requests when buying new storage,” Fisher said.

Since the implementation in late 2011, the IT department has been able to automate testing of backup images and reduced backup infrastructure maintenance.

According to Andrade, the firm used online backup data technology which has resulted in reduced costs as tape drives were no longer needed.

He adds that the law firm experienced a return on investment within two months because of the private Cloud’s low capital cost.

IT departments looking to implement a private Cloud is to do research and have a well-developed business case.

“There wasn’t a lot of information at the time we explored the private Cloud concept but now it’s a lot easier for IT departments as there are white papers and references available,” Andrade said.

“We held a number of presentations for the board but what management was most interested in was the guarantee of no outages.”

Looking to the future, he said the private Cloud infrastructure would suit the firm’s IT requirements for the next five years as it could scale storage needs up or down as required.

Turning to current IT projects, the IT department is in the process of an Exchange 2010 platform implementation and transition from Windows XP to Windows 7.

The firm has been piloting Windows 7 with 70 users for the past six months and, according to Andrade, experienced no problems. “Over the last six months there has been lots of training programs so we’ve been using things like online video to help with training our users,” he said.

Andrade added that Exchange 2010 will offer the firm built-in application redundancy for business continuity. “Business continuity and disaster recovery are major priorities for us,” he said. “Email is our second most important application after document management.”

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