A not-for-profit provider of retirement accommodation and aged care services throughout Queensland and New South Wales, RSL Care determined in mid-2011 that it needed a highly redundant, highly available disaster recovery solution to protect the information of the 25,000 Australians it serves each year in the case of an outage, disaster or other event.
RSL Care had three separate infrastructure stacks servicing different requirements in its data centre. Through its disaster recovery solution, the organisation wanted to reduce its data centre storage footprint to save money and maximise the efficiency of its environment over five years.
RSL Care already had a relationship with Datacom, having worked with them on a number of projects which included reviewing RSL Care’s IT infrastructure and an assessment of the requirements for a new electronic file solution. After reviewing proposals from three separate IT integrators to find the right one to handle its disaster recovery project, they chose Datacom to implement the disaster recovery solution as they knew they would have direct access to the business leaders and technical leads should questions, changes or concerns crop up.
RSL Care determined that the FlexPod, a solution that brings together Cisco Unified Computing System, Cisco Nexus data centre switches and NetApp FAS storage into a single-architecture data centre platform, made the most sense for its disaster recovery goals. The FlexPod data centre configuration is built on Cisco Validated Designs, which involves solutions that have already gone through a design, test and documentation phase to ensure successful deployment by customers, reduce risk and boost efficiencies.
Part of the FlexPod’s uniqueness is that it lets IT integrators build customised data centre solutions for clients as long as they stay within the design parameters and source technologies from Cisco’s partners. FlexPod implementations can involve a variety of vendors besides NetApp and Cisco. RSL Care’s particular design for disaster recovery also involved VMware’s vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.
Datacom’s implementation enabled RSL Care to consolidate its three storage stacks into just one and create a second date centre to serve as the disaster recovery site. The result was a highly available, redundant disaster recovery solution. The disaster recovery project also involved:
- Consolidation of two different hypervisors to a single-hypervisor platform
- An infrastructure upgrade at both data centre sites from 1 gigabyte core networking to 10 gigabytes at each site
- Redundant fabrics, switches, fibre, firewalls, power and cooling
- Automated failover
Although the FlexPod was a fairly seamless disaster recovery solution to integrate, the Datacom team had a few challenges involving setting up an additional data centre to serve as the disaster recovery site. The disaster recovery implementation involved seven different design documents and necessitated no down time between executing the existing data centre storage environment and the new one. This meant the disaster recovery project had to temporarily integrate the existing storage setup into the new one to keep everything up and running.
The FlexPod was only implemented in June of 2012 and RSL Care has already realised the disaster recovery benefits, including streamlining across the backup environment, reduction in storage footprint and increased data centre storage efficiency.
RSL Care has also managed to reduce its recovery point objective to 15 minutes in the production environments and its recovery time objective from 12 weeks to mere hours. Using NetApp storage allows RSL Care to use less space and power in its data centre.
“In our business case, we stated we wanted to reduce the time it took to do backups — we did that,” says Ian Youngson, RSL Care Technology Manager. “We have also reduced our dependencies on tape for backup. We were using it nightly, and it’s now just weekly or monthly. We also wanted to increase resilience, and we have by having a second data centre site.”