Disaster recovery in a virtualised environment

24 November 2014

Rothera Dowson Solicitors has been providing legal advice and services for nearly 200 years. With several offices in different locations, strict regulatory procedures to follow, and an ageing tape solution, its IT team faces many challenges, especially since the firm was going through the delicate process of migrating to a virtualised platform.

Unitrends 712 recovery appliance

Unitrends 712 recovery appliance

With around 90 users spread across four branch offices and a head office in the centre of Nottingham, the company had developed a sophisticated setup to ensure its IT infrastructure supported every geographical location while meeting its day-to-day operational requirements.

Even if offices had only three or four staff, each was connected to the head office data centre via a terminal server, making the IT infrastructure in a small branch as complex as an office supporting 100 staff.

Rothera Dowson’s existing tape backup solution had become outdated, stored data uneconomically, and was also slow and difficult to restore from in the event of a system failure. When the decision was made to migrate to a virtualised platform, it became apparent the system wouldn’t be up to the job of protecting data. Furthermore, any new recovery solution would need to comply with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Rothera Dowson developed a reliable solution based on Unitrends’ Recovery-712 appliance at its the head office. A second virtualised appliance is deployed at one of the branch offices, and uses Unitrends’ software to replicate everything backed up by the Recovery-712. The branch office acts as the firm’s recovery site. In the event of a disaster at head office, staff can decamp to the branch and remain operational. “The Unitrends software has been installed on a virtual server using our own hardware,” says Stefano Pratesi, principle IT consultant for Rothera Dowson. “The software has its own interface so it looks and works exactly like Unitrends [Enterprise Backup] appliance. Using a mixture of Unitrends hardware and our own has allowed us to deploy a hybrid solution in effect.”

In addition to the Recovery-712 and Enterprise Backup unit, an archive backup of the system is taken off site each week.