First New Zealand Capital (FNZC) is a leading full service, wholly locally owned share broking and investment banking firm which has been active under various names for more than 50 years. Its formal strategic alliance with Credit Suisse has existed for more than 20 years, providing clients with access to world class global research, industry expertise, global securities distribution, bank debt and underwriting capabilities. It has offices in both the country’s north and south islands including Auckland and the New Zealand capital, Wellington. Although a medium size company with 250 staff, its IT infrastructure is of enterprise grade.
FNZC took the strategic decision to adopt a virtualized infrastructure and the company is today 98% virtualized across its server and desktop fleet. However its legacy storage and backup systems were slow, inefficient and unreliable and in need of a complete overhaul. The issue was exacerbated by New Zealand’s extraordinary frequency of earthquake activity each year. FNZC faced an ever present threat of loss of data critical to its business operation.
New Zealand has a unique geological environment. The country sits astride the boundary of two of the world’s major tectonic plates – the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. More than 15,000 earthquakes hit New Zealand each year, with between 100 – 150 large enough to be felt and several recording a 6 plus magnitude.
This stalking earthquake phenomenon adds an extra dimension to the protection FNZC has had to deploy to safeguard the 10 TB of data which is backed up each month. More than five years ago FNZC adopted a strategy which today sees 98% virtualization across its server and desktop fleet. Historically the company has backed up data locally in its two data centers; one situated in the Auckland and the other in Wellington, which sits on the tectonic plate fault line.
In 2016 FNZC decided it needed to replace a five-year-old storage system and prior traditional backup technology to keep pace with their growing data needs. Because the financial services industry has to retain data for at least seven years for legal reasons, the prior storage and data protection technology solutions were a concern for the company’s brand reputation and business viability due to uncertainty and delays in its ability to recover and restore data in a timely manner.
John Sew Hoy, FNZC’s Director of IT Security, recalls: “Backup window cycles were taking a very long time – up to five or six days (for file servers alone). If a failure occurred and the backup hadn’t been completed then the business didn’t have a copy of that data. We’d have to go back and search a lot of tapes and restore that data. This not only involved more time and frustration but was clearly a risk to our business efficiency.”
When people required files they may have deleted or changed in the company’s legacy backup system it was stored offsite on an incremental backup. Retrieving that tape would take a day and if it was not the right tape FNZC needed to recall another, taking two or three days sometimes before it was possible to restore just that single file.
Sew Hoy describes the approach FNZC adopted in overcoming the technology challenges. “Our legacy backup and storage system needed a lot of overhauling and we could have thrown money at it, but instead we looked at the major players in the market to see what fundamental changes and technology had been taking place in this space. It made practical sense for our analysis to take into account at the same time our storage issues and the backup aligned with it.
”We looked at a lot of vendors and realized that the partnership between Veeam and HPE was strong and was reinforced by a lot of good material evidence. It was clear also that there had been a great deal of testing conducted in labs. We came to the conclusion that Veeam Backup and Replication was the most advanced virtualization availability solution on the market. It’s backup and restore process was simply seamless leading to more efficient backup data transfer and less network utilization. All of which gave us extra confidence that this was the right direction to take. We chose HPE 3PAR StoreServ as the primary storage solution.
HPE had just released an important feature called StoreOnce Catalyst which provides a single, high-performance backup architecture. Veeam was an approved vendor supporting Catalyst so the integration backed in nicely with the Veeam Backup & Replication capability. The Veeam solution was offered straight out of the box and there were no problems at all in leveraging the StoreOnce capability.”