Ruapehu District Council achieves rapid disaster recovery with Lexel

Ruapehu District Council achieves rapid disaster recovery with Lexel
Lexel was awarded the contract to provide managed IT services for Ruapehu District Council (RDC). Part of the selection process considered each applicant’s ability to provide modern, comprehensive and robust backup and disaster recovery solutions. A review of the council’s capability in these areas had highlighted some significant risks and opportunities.

Lexel recommended a move from the dated tape backup system to a secure managed cloud solution using Veeam software combined with dedicated standby hardware. Implementing the recommendations took only two weeks, with no interruption to the council’s daily operations. The council now has rapid backup and disaster recovery protection against incidents that range from ransom hacking and local server loss to significant natural disasters and the need to operate from another geographical location. The service includes daily monitoring and optimization, as well as full testing every six months.


The challenge

Local councils provide a wide range of essential services to the areas they serve. The reliability of their daily operation is a crucial strand in the fabric of strong communities. In times of disaster they typically become the unifying foundation people turn to for strength and support.

Like any modern organization, IT capability has become the lifeblood of Ruapehu District Council’s everyday operations and customer connectivity. Robust backup systems and proven rapid disaster recovery may be far from their customers’ minds, but if IT systems go down they’ll be the first thing people focus on if essential council services are missing in action.

“We had an older tape backup system but had also recognized the need for a modern DR solution for some time”, said Stuart Campbell, IT Manager, Ruapehu District Council. “We basically lived in fear of the whole world going blank and not being able to recover very easily from that.”


“We have active volcanoes nearby, fairly frequent earthquakes and the Whanganui River flowing through the district”, said Stuart. “Even something like a server rack getting rattled enough to upset the hard disk spindles presents a threat to our operations.”

The solution needed to provide backups and disaster recovery for the complete IT system, which encompasses 26 servers plus all the council’s data, including around 14 terabytes on their storage area network.


Lexel’s solution

Lexel recommended and installed a managed cloud backup solution that encompasses complete disaster recovery.

“The first part of the solution was to get reliable, fast and recoverable backups in place”, said Jason Green, Solutions Architect - Cloud Services, Lexel. “The next part ensured those backups were also offsite from the council. The final component, the disaster recovery side, allows them to promptly recover their environment into a running system.”

The Lexel cloud-based system provides a lot more than simply storing the raw backup data on large servers, along with data from other clients.

“The solution we provided has a dedicated server infrastructure, so you can get up and running even if you have lost your entire building to something like a fire or earthquake”, said Green. “Because it’s cloud-based, council staff can log into the remote disaster recovery system from their homes, or even a local school computer room, and continue working. To cover a geographically widespread event, we also provide the option to hot desk from Lexel’s DR Workspace office based in Auckland. If necessary, we can even physically transport their dedicated cloud hardware from Auckland to their offices in Taumaranui for speedy local access, especially handy in the event of regional carrier network outages. It’s a very comprehensive and flexible solution.”
In addition to councils, the Lexel solution has proven popular with a wide range of clients including law firms, accountants and manufacturing companies.

A side benefit of Lexel’s cloud backup solution was its contribution to the Ruapehu District Council’s testing and development. Storing an older copy of their environment data offsite allowed the Council remote access for testing, without incurring the costs associated with setting up an onsite test environment. The shifting of hardware offsite also freed up more capacity for production, while reducing maintenance costs.

Combining backup and DR into one solution has another advantage. Many DR solutions simply provide mirror servers running in parallel. But if you are the victim of something like a ransom hacking attack, chances are it will get straight into your DR servers as well and you’ll have no way to go back in time.


The Lexel Solution for Ruapehudistrict Council

On premise backup appliance for daily backups and full operating system images, enabling routine point restores of individual files, mailboxes or SQL entries.
  • Dedicated cloud-based disaster recovery appliance for offsite replicated copies of backups ready for disaster recovery activations.
  • Lexel onsite managed IT services employee monitoring the solution to ensure optimal operation
  • Six-monthly recovery tests
  • Fixed monthly fee


Conclusion

As a place to do business, New Zealand carries a relatively high risk of natural disaster and Kiwi businesses are certainly not immune to international cyber threats. At the same time, our organisational knowledge, the way we operate and the way we connect with customers are almost entirely dependent on IT systems. When these systems are compromised or lost, the speed at which an organisation recovers can lead to significant opportunities or terminal failure. Backup and disaster recovery solutions depend on each other for success, so it makes sense to approach them as one.

“If your backup is on the same premises, it’s not really a backup at all. In addition, a lot of organisations are not testing their backups and watching them as closely as they should”, said Green.
 


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