Utility eliminates downtime threats with backup solution

System crash reduced from 18 hours to 30 minutes

Rous Water, the regional water supply authority for four north-eastern NSW council areas, has introduced a risk management solution that protects its operations from any significant disruption caused by computer downtime.

The authority has implemented a StorageCraft ShadowProtect, a disk-based backup and disaster recovery solution, which has reduced data loss from a typical 18 hours in the event of a computer crash, to only 15-30 minutes.

According to IT Manager Alvaro Lozano, the new technology practically eliminates any computer-related disruption to water supplies for the council areas of Lismore, Ballina, Byron and Richmond Valley, in northern NSW.

Following a trial of ShadowProtect on the authority's management system, it is being implemented on two telemetry servers.

"If due to a major disaster both of these telemetry servers were to fail, we would be unable to open and close the valves at our reservoirs - we would simply not know what was happening to them," Lozano said..

"Ultimately, councils could be left without water. Although the probability might be low, the impact would be high, so we are eliminating the risk."

The threat of a water management failure isn't the only difficulty affecting the water authority.

Lozano is also concerned with disruptions in day-to-day operations.

Recently, one of Rous Water's systems suffered a major hardware failure when a server crashed, corrupting two years' worth of archived e-mails.

Using ShadowProtect we were able to restore the network service within 30 minutes, he said.

Lozano was already seeking to reduce downtime from 18 hours to less than an hour after a server crash, and to do so on a limited budget.

The various disk-to-disk backup technologies he tried failed to address his needs for simplicity, flexibility and affordability.

Lozano said the nature of the business requires a rapid response to problems, which needed a solution that could minimise data loss to minutes instead of an entire day.

"We have been able to achieve this. What previously meant several hours' downtime has been reduced to minutes," he said.

"We can recover an entire server on to different hardware and have it fully operational within half an hour.

"This represents almost immediate disaster recovery. What has impressed us most is its hardware independent restore technology, which works flawlessly and adds only a few minutes to the rebuild process."

Previously a server failure meant retrieving the previous night's backup tape and crossing fingers that it had been backed up correctly.

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