Case study: Commvault standardises backup and recovery at Blue Label, delivers maximum availability, disaster recovery ability
Blue Label Telecoms (Blue Label) produces and distributes a variety of pre-paid secure electronic tokens and associated transactional services. These include prepaid airtime; starter packs and data; pre-paid electricity and water; ticketing for events, games and transport; and financial services and value-added services for the telecommunications, utilities, retail, insurance, financial services and transport industries.
The company has a distribution network in South African that covers more than 150 000 points of presence, to which pre-paid products are supplied on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The company also operates growing businesses in India, currently with 130 000 points of presence, and Mexico with 62 000 points of presence.
It was essential for Blue Label to obtain a view of critical product data across multiple geographies to ensure effective data protection, backup and disaster recovery. The organisation turned to data protection, backup and recovery specialist DDP Consulting, which recommended Commvault's solution to assist with this challenge.
Says Andrew Murray, CIO at Blue Label: "Our business operates on tiny margins with high transaction volumes, and as such, if we are down or unavailable for very short periods of time, we lose a lot of money. Availability is therefore critical."
With an aggressive acquisition strategy and a rapidly growing and diversifying business, Blue Label required a data protection and recovery solution that would be easy to deploy and scale, and could readily be replicated across different global regions.
Adds Murray: "Commvault came on board in March and we were live by the end of April, with all of our backups done via Commvault. We were also replicating to our disaster recovery site as well by then."
Data protection systems need to mitigate risk by providing disaster recovery and adequate data protection. As such, proper backup is essential, as is the ability to acquire a consolidated view of data across the various acquired businesses and geographies. Following a pilot project of a proposed solution, Blue Label Telecoms identified its final requirements for an effective system.
One of the major requirements for Blue Label was the ability to deploy disaster recovery with replication at a secondary site for risk mitigation purposes. In addition, they required a solution that was easily deployed and configured, and which could be supported internally. DDP Consulting delivered a proof of concept (POC) around the Commvault solution. The solution delivers a flexible, modular core software platform with a single virtual repository and index for integrated, extensible data management in a simple and cost-effective manner, creating a foundation for managing data as a strategic asset.
Says Johan Scheepers, Systems Engineering Director for the Middle East, South Africa and Turkey (MESAT): "The POC immediately demonstrated Commvault's ability to deliver on all requirements. In addition, Commvault assists to significantly simplify complex environments, including those with remote sites, delivering a seamless solution that provides peace of mind."
The solution was deployed by Gabsten Technologies, the first Commvault accredited services and support partner in South Africa, which also handles all in-country after-sales support on behalf of Commvault. Blue Label procured Commvault capacity licensing and the required hardware infrastructure, and within two months, Blue Label was live on the Commvault solution with both backups and replication to an offsite disaster recovery location. DDP Consulting continues to provide Commvault pre-sales and sales support on an ongoing basis to Blue Label.
Delivers critical data protection across the board
The Commvault solution handles all of the transactional data in the production environment, which forms the core revenue generation system at Blue Label. Disaster recovery on this data is essential to ensure business continuity and the ability to swiftly recover in the event of a problem.
After deployment in the production environment, the value of the solution was immediately apparent, and functionality was extended across the enterprise. In addition to fulfilling this primary role of data protection on the entire production environment, the system also replaced the legacy solution that was being used for backup on e-mails and unstructured data. Commvault is now being utilised across the board for all data backup requirements.
Endpoint protection was also a key requirement for Blue Label, as bandwidth is sometimes limited in some of the geographies where the company operates, which means not all of the data resides in the cloud but rather on an employee's mobile device or notebook. Backup for endpoint devices is also being rolled out, ensuring protection of 'data in the field'.
Core technology for replication across regions
Blue Label has interests in India and Mexico, as well as its operations across South Africa. After numerous acquisitions over the course of the past 14 years, the integration of core technologies become a priority, with a view towards consolidating these solutions in the future.
At Blue Label Mexico, data backup and replication as well as disaster recovery were also a concern. In order to address this, Blue Label replaced the entire technology infrastructure and rolled out the same Commvault solution that was implemented in South Africa. The full infrastructure replacement took a total of eight days, with the Commvault software implementation itself completed in a single day.
The CommVault solution provides the ideal platform for such a diversified roll-out, facilitating the addition of new companies onto the managed environment without limiting the usability of the tools. This was important for Blue Label, as it needed to incorporate newly acquired businesses with ease into a virtualised environment, including Blue Label Mexico.
The solution is fully vendor agnostic, meaning it can be deployed in a variety of different hardware environments. Backup and replication services have also been extended to various subsidiaries of the Blue Label Group Telecoms, and can be quickly rolled out at all future acquisitions.
Says Jonathan Trope, Executive for Technology Operations at Blue Label: "When adding acquired companies into our managed environment, we have found the Commvault solution to be flexible enough to easily manage the addition of these new subsidiaries with their workloads into our backup and replication environment."
Data governance, availability, risk mitigation
Blue Label has grown from an entrepreneurial organisation to a listed company required to meet governance and compliance requirements in South Africa's regulated markets. In addition, the organisation is dealing with massive data growth in excess of 400% in a single year. By standardising technology and processes, the Commvault solution enables Blue Label to meet these governance conditions, and a hard-wired physical data and replication solution at each site, which can be easily rolled out, supports this.
Availability is critical for Blue Label, as the business deals with high transaction volumes. Even short periods of downtime can have a critical impact in terms of lost revenue. This has a direct impact on profitability and must be assured. While return on investment (ROI) in terms of risk is difficult to quantify, the organisation has seen benefits with regards to maximum uptime as well as the ability to quickly recover data when required.
Supporting cloud migration
As Blue Label drives standardised infrastructure and enhanced technology security throughout the organisation, cloud-based data protection could offer improved affordability and resiliency. With Commvault in place, this migration is easily supporting, helping to future-proof the technology investment and simplify the journey to the cloud.