Packaging a Backup & Business Continuity StrategyBy Samuel Greengard Print
Helen of Troy, a leading consumer products company, standardized its global data centers and improved storage and backups, as well as business continuity.
As organizations adopt virtualization, many find that it addresses numerous challenges and leads to significant efficiency and cost gains. However, at the same time, managing a virtual infrastructure can generate new issues—and headaches. This is especially true for companies using legacy IT systems, including storage.
At Helen of Troy—which owns and operates a number of leading brands, including Vidal Sassoon, Revlon, Dr. Scholl's, Sea Breeze, Vicks and OXO International—the need for reliable backup and recovery led to a major overhaul of IT in March 2013.
Even while migrating into a virtualized environment, the company continued to depend on tape backups, explains Armando Gonzalez, director of global technical infrastructure at Helen of Troy. "At one point, we got hit with a virus that affected our data centers," he recalls. "Although we were able to keep our data safe and secure, the incident pointed out that we needed to make some significant changes to our IT platform to ensure disaster recovery and business continuity. We required a much higher level of standardization."
Adding to the complexity: the company generates approximately 45 terabytes of backup data every six months. "We were already frustrated with the existing backup tool because it was slow, and recovery was even slower," Gonzalez explains.
Within the environment—which includes 450-plus VMware virtual machines spread across 23 offices and five data centers—backups failed more than half the time, and the IT staff had a difficult time identifying where errors were taking place. "We were unable to meet recovery objectives, and we were concerned about adhering to compliance standards such as Sarbanes-Oxley," he adds.
As a result, Helen of Troy turned to Veeam Backup & Replication and a Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) to deliver a more dependable, standardized approach to storage and disaster recovery. After rolling out the solution at its Texas data center, the company expanded the use of the solution enterprisewide.
The Veeam technology works with a network-attached storage (NAS) virtual tape library and within VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V to boost back-up speeds by as much as 80 percent and recovery by approximately 90 percent. In the past, a data recovery operation often required a full day or longer. Now, the process often takes place in minutes.
The system also delivers other benefits, according to Gonzalez. For instance, backup proxy servers and backup repositories communicate directly with each other under the direction of the backup server. The system uses built-in WAN-acceleration techniques and incorporates intelligent load balancing within the virtual environment.
"Today, the data is just a few clicks away," Gonzalez explains. "In the event of a disaster, we can restore data quickly and seamlessly at the push of a button." What's more, the company's data is replicated at other corporate data centers located in Memphis and Boston.
"In the event of a future disaster, we are far better positioned to deal with any problems and can have our systems up and running quickly—all while maintaining full data integrity," he concludes. "We are now able to hit all of our RPOs [recovery point objectives] and RTOs [recovery time objectives] and achieve the necessary level of compliance."
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