Dedupe delivers for Vita Group

Deduplication has helped the retailer delay upgrading its storage hardware, says IT manager

Deduplication has help extend by at least by a year or two the storage hardware used for backups at retailer Vita Group, according to its IT manager.

Using dedupe has freed up 18TB of storage, said IT systems manager Michael Ebbels.

Vita Group is a telecommunications-focussed retail chain whose brands include Fone Zone, One Zero, Next Byte, iConcierge, Vita Networks and Sprout Accessories.

It also operates a number of Telstra Shops and Telstra Business Centres.

The group encompasses around 1500 staff, including several hundred at its head office in Brisbane.

The core of the business is focussed on reselling Telstra products, and it is looking to expanding to cover more of Telstra's whole-of-business offerings, Ebbels said.

"We're looking to move from that traditional mobility space and grow into that whole-of-business offering in the SME market," the IT manager said.

In addition to standard sources of business data on the network, a multi-year push to slash the use of paper has driven some additional data growth.

Signing customers up to mobile contracts would previously generate substantial quantities of paperwork.

"When you to sign a contract with any provider, there's usually a two-to-eight document printed out depending on what you order. Typically one copy of this was printed out for the customer and another copy was printed out for our records.

"That generated quite a bit of paper considering on an average month it might range between 10,000 and 20,000 customers coming through all signing up."

Around 18 months ago the group completed implementation of a contract management system including digital signing and archiving of contracts, the IT manager said.

Last year as the Vita Group's CommVault licensing came up for renewal the company upgraded to Simpana 10 and switched from agent-based licensing to capacity-based licensing.

"We're still a small business in terms of how we operate internally in IT," Ebbels said. "Working with CommmVault and the integration partner Logicalis, doing a bit of a workshop around how our CommVault technology is configured, there was a change in the licensing that we could take advantage of with the upgrade.

"Traditionally we were using an agent-based product set, so we chose which products we wanted and we'd license CommVault that way. With the new licensing scheme you could license on how much data you need to back up and get access to the full suite of products."

"That was the biggest advantage for us because it gave us access one to their dedupe technologies," the IT manager said.

"That was a big one in terms of leveraging existing hardware; 99% of our environment is Windows, so all the backups, in terms of Windows backup, the majority of that is 90% deduped."

The team also achieved a 66 per cent reduction in the time mail backups take and a 99 per cent space saving on file server backups.

"One of the other ones benefits was tape consumption — so just through consolidating tape policies and better management practices we'll be able to move from 780 tapes per year to just 74 tapes per year, which drastically reduces our offsite storage costs as well."

"Post the upgrade one of the other benefits is that we can retain 62 days of data on disk, rather than just five," Ebbels said.

"It reduces the time to restore data: Rather than just going back to the tapes and offsite recalling tapes, we can pretty much instantaneously retrieve data straight away.

"We found that a two-month window is usually the sweet spot in terms of people needing stuff back or accidentally deleting something, so it's worked out really well."