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Customer success stories with Azure Backup: Somerset County Council

Posted on 10 May, 2018

Program Manager II, Azure Backup

This is a continuation of our customer success story blog series for Azure Backup. In the previous case study we covered Russell Reynolds, here we will discuss how United Kingdom’s Somerset County Council are able to improve their backup and restore efficiency and reduce their backup cost using Azure Backup.

Customer background

United Kingdom’s Somerset County Council provides government services to its 550,000 residents. It is one of the oldest local governments in the world, established about 700 A.D. Somerset had been using an in-house storage manager platform for their data backup and restore on-premises.

“The biggest problems we had were with flexibility and scalability. We had racks and racks of disks, and we had to wait a long time to get new hardware. The complexities with the product itself also introduced many challenges” says Dean Cridland, Senior IT Officer at Somerset County Council. In addition, as the data footprint grew, IT staff struggled to hit daily backup SLA. So, they were looking for a modern backup solution that could meet their ever-growing data footprint requirement, meet their backup SLA, and aligns with their strategy of moving to the cloud.

How Azure Backup helped

Somerset deployed Azure Backup Server to backup diverse workloads which included VMWare virtual machines, Microsoft SQL Server databases, files/folder backup, system state backup for Windows server and Exchange backup. With Azure Backup’s seamless integration with Azure, Somerset was able to minimize the on-premises backup footprint by keeping the data locally only for a day and then move it to Azure, where it’s retained for 30 days. They implemented a 1-Gbps Azure ExpressRoute connection 70 percent of which is utilized for backup and restore, helping them to meet their backup SLAs.

They found the UI to be quite simple and intuitive which helped increase the IT efficiency. “System and file recovery is a much simpler and faster process with our Azure solution,” says Cridland. “This simplicity is critical because, in a true disaster recovery event, you don't want to be wasting time trying to understand things”. Simple UI combined with minimum on-premises infrastructure also helped to improve agility as they can now rapidly scale up or down their backup environment. The new solution takes less than a week to deploy a new backup server which previously took months. “With our Azure hybrid cloud solution, we can now meet increasing government requirements for disaster recovery and business continuity,” explains Cridland.

Azure Backup Server comes with a pay-as-you-go model. Moreover, with minimum on-premises infrastructure they only need to provision the resources required today—versus paying for hardware that was sized to support future requirements. This helped them significantly reduce their costs. “Compared with our previous backup solution, our Azure solution costs significantly less to run,” says Andy Kennell, ICT Operations Manager at Somerset. “That, combined with the capital savings associated with the StorSimple devices, have produced a six-digit cost savings.”

Somerset IT team work closely with Microsoft product teams which a a win-win situation, Microsoft help them optimize their backups and in turn they provide feedback. “As we continue our digital transformation, wide aspects of our infrastructure are changing, and so are our processes and personnel. Navigating all this with a company like Microsoft is paying dividends. We have a more cohesive IT solution and we can discuss technology roadmaps with product teams from a technical and business perspective. They tell us what’s coming, and we tell them what we need. This kind of dialogue is unique, and it helps us with our long-term strategy, so we can provide better services and leadership for our community.” says Cridland.

Summary

Azure backup provided a simple and intuitive solution for their diverse workload backups and provides the agility to backup their ever-growing data to Azure. It also helped them significantly reduce their costs by providing a pay-as-you-go solution and they don’t need to provision extra storage to meet future requirements.

Source: Azure case study from Somerset County Council

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