CIPP chooses not to stick with tape

30 January 2014

The Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP) is the UK’s only membership association for individuals working in payroll and has in excess of 5,000 professionals as its members. It traditionally used a tape-based backup system but this began to prove problematic as IT co-ordinator Torsten Roesler explains: “Each night, the previous night’s tape would be taken out of the drive and I would take it home with me. We’d have a daily backup tape at my house, along with weekly backups. So at any one time, I would have two tapes at home.”

The tape-based system also ran into logistical challenges. Someone would have to be there to switch the tape during night runs, and holiday periods caused even greater problems. As the institute’s data requirements increased in volume and sensitivity, it found itself unable to store everything on a single tape.

As a result, the CIPP chose Icomm Technologies to revamp its backup system. Using the vendor’s Cloud Backup system, the institute’s data is now automatically sent to Icomm’s remote storage vault in Birmingham and replicated to a satellite location in Manchester. The 600GB data includes the CIPP’s customer relationship management and Exchange databases.

The CIPP is also using Icomm’s Ditto service which regularly takes a snapshot  image of its critical server structure and provides failover for six servers. In addition to its Exchange server, it has a domain controller which handles file and print functions, a management server for software updates, and Microsoft’s  Internet Information Services server which hosts a number of internal websites. The Institute also has a Citrix server and an SQL database server used for its CRM system.

Icomm took the servers offline for a short period and made a copy of the images. These were then physically taken offsite and copied to the backup servers at Icomm’s two data centres. The CIPP’s working data was backed up onto a separate hard drive, but instead of taking it physically to its data centres, Icomm transmitted it overnight via a 10Mb leased line. That process set the working model for the CIPP’s ongoing daily backup process. The Asigra software behind Cloud Backup copies only the changes that are made to the CIPP’s server data on a daily basis, minimising the bandwidth requirement.

“The new approach has radically reduced our recovery time and point objectives,” says Roesler. “Icomm can restore our server images to virtual servers, along with the latest data backup. This allows us to log in from anywhere and be fully operational.” “

In the future, CIPP intends to run its own virtualised servers, upgrading from the  Windows 2003 systems that it has had in place since 2005.