Manica Africa centralises backup into the Cloud with HP LiveVault solution from Altonet

Manica Africa is legally required to keep records of every border and customs transaction dating back ten years for compliance purposes.

May 12, 2014

Manica Africa, a freight forwarding company specialising in cross-border cargo logistics throughout sub-Saharan Africa, is legally required to keep records of every border and customs transaction dating back ten years for compliance purposes. Backup and recovery is thus mission critical to the organisation, and the company realised that a centralised Cloud-based backup solution is a vital tool. However, the organisation also had a specific challenge – the majority of its branches are situated in remote locations such as border posts, where bandwidth is challenged. When it became clear that their existing solution was not delivering the levels of reliability required for up-to-date, failsafe backup and recovery, Manica Africa turned to Altonet to deliver HP LiveVault, a powerful cloud-based data protection solution, to solve their specific challenges.

“Having an available and accessible backup of our data is critical, not only for compliance purposes but also for risk management. For example, in the event of a dispute, if we cannot prove that a customs transaction took place, we are held liable for outstanding amounts with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) – and this could add up to hundreds of thousands of Rands,” says Dennis Battiscombe, IT Manager South Africa at Manica Africa.

“Our original backup solution was not centralised, with each branch conducting its own tape-based backup. This was inefficient and unreliable due to backups not run timeously and backups not completed. We therefore decided to centralise our solution, but inadequate bandwidth at many outlying areas proved to be a real limiting factor. Attempting to complete continuous backups to the Cloud in these areas was causing backups to fail, which meant that we were left vulnerable to the consequences of data loss,” he adds.

Altonet recommended Manica Africa HP LiveVault from HP Autonomy as the ideal solution to their challenge –– and conducted a Proof of Concept (POC) at Manica Africa’s branch in Zeerust to prove the effectiveness of the solution. LiveVault combines disk-and cloud-based technologies to ensure that backup and recovery is always up to date and reliable, regardless of bandwidth constrictions at any given time. The solution was then implemented in seven branches throughout South Africa: Zeerust, Johannesburg, Rivonia, Durban, Messina, Komatipoort and Groblersburg.

“The HP LiveVault solution makes use of a Turbo Restore Appliance (TRA), which conducts continuous backup every 15 minutes on the Local Area Network (LAN). This is then sent to our centralised vault in Teraco’s data centre in Isando. Since we are only sending these backups via the cloud once a day on a predetermined schedule – usually at night – even Manica’s remote sites could be assured of the highest levels of reliability with regard to their backup and recovery. Furthermore, Altonet’s vaults are duplicated in another data centre, providing Manica with complete security of their backup,” says Gareth Tudor, CEO of Altonet.

“Organisations like Manica Africa are facing a growing need to protect a new generation of rapidly expanding enterprise data across various locations, some of which may be remote,” says Stephen Aldous, HP LiveVault Product Manager, HP Autonomy. “HP LiveVault provides enterprise-class cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection, helping organisations reduce costs and streamline backup administration and operations.”

The TRA appliances were prepared and delivered to Manica Africa, which were then installed at each of the branches. A full backup was completed to the TRAs, which were then sent back to Altonet and the data ingested into the vault at Teraco. The TRAs were then returned to each branch to begin performing continuous live updating after catching up to the latest version. This method minimised the volume of data required to be transmitted online, which would have been too time consuming from the remote locations.

“This solution enables us to have a full back up in Teraco, including incremental updates, to minimise the amount of bandwidth required. We have scheduled cloud backups after business hours when the available bandwidth is not required for working purposes. The HP LiveVault solution also has the capability to ensure that even if the line is dropped, backups will resume from that point and not have to start all over again. This guarantees that we always have a local and Cloud-based backup, no matter what the conditions,” says Battiscombe.

“The entire process went smoothly, and since we already have servers at Teraco, we were able to get up and running with ease – the setup was completed remotely via an iPad. The logistics around getting the first backup into the Cloud from the TRAs was the only challenge we experienced, and as a specialist freight company this was easily dealt with. The team from Altonet were fantastic, delivering the solution on time and providing support whenever and wherever necessary,” he concludes.