Plan B was approached by a leading housing association to discuss their requirements for disaster recovery. Upcoming closure of an office which served as their secondary data centre and DR site meant that an alternative strategy involving outsourcing DRaaS was sought.

The housing association’s existing DR solution involved replicating all systems in-house to a secondary location, and maintaining and testing these recovery systems internally. A workplace recovery provider was contracted to arrive on site with a lorry containing servers and ‘plug in’ to the secondary systems following an IT disaster.

Tier 1 systems had a target RTO of 3 days and RPO of 4 hours, whilst tier 2 systems had a target RTO of 5 days and RPO of 24 hours.

The brief for the new strategy was for a fully managed outsourced DRaaS service that could meet several key criteria:

  • Protection for VMware services and Solaris 10.
  • Improvement on their current RTO’s with at least matching RPO’s.
  • Access to all 800 virtual desktops, and an additional 80 XenApp servers following invocation.
  • Data Centre location to be further than 30 miles away from the production systems.
  • Evidence of risk mitigation procedures and compute availability to meet these requirements.

The consultancy period

Plan B’s technical director was instrumental in understanding the customer’s complex networking requirements. Because Plan B offers a number of technology options, a deep understanding of their infrastructure was essential to align the best technologies to their business. Following the consultancy period a final solution was proposed which required some bespoke development to make everything work seamlessly together in a single DR solution. The contract was awarded to Plan B, a G-Cloud public sector procurement supplier. 

The solution

Plan B’s solution is a complex and bespoke service, designed to meet the requirements of this particular housing association.

Tier 1 servers are protected with Plan B’s fully managed Zerto DR service which delivers immediate recovery of systems with continuous replication. Daily testing to application level offers money-back guarantees attached to RTO. RTO=boot time, RPO > 6 seconds.

Tier 2 servers are protected with Plan B’s fully managed Zerto DR service which delivers immediate recovery of systems with continuous replication. Weekly testing to application level means that there is no money-back guarantee attached to RTO. RTO=3 days, RPO > 6 seconds.

XenApp The XenApp application is treated as a tier 1 server and will be immediately available following a failure. Compute resource for the desktop users (1280GB RAM) will be rolled out according to a 10-day plan to reduce the high cost of having dedicated compute resource.

The Solaris server is co-located at the Plan B data centre, and the equipment is managed by the customer.

Key benefits

The solution devised and implemented by Plan B addresses all the customer’s requirements and delivers them:

  • A fully managed service which allows the customer to focus resources on their live systems.
  • Improved RTO’s with tier 1 servers being immediately available without data loss.
  • Testing to application level at least weekly (if not daily) to improve recovery reliability, offering peace of mind that the DR solution is working.
  • Proactive fault management by senior engineers with daily error log monitoring
  • Improved recovery performance within budget, backed by guarantees.
  • Sector experience, and DR specialism.
  • A single supplier taking full accountability of IT availability.

Why choose Plan B?

Following their implementation our customer has openly shared their reasons for choosing Plan B:

  1. Plan B offered the Zerto technology they wanted.
  2. Plan B’s size and specialism means that we offered a much more personal relationship, holding their hands every step of the way and making them feel like a valued customer. Other providers delivered a corporate, transactional approach which made them feel unimportant.
  3. With a long relationship ahead, the housing association felt that the ongoing relationship with and responsiveness of their DR provider were key – both of which Plan B excelled at.
  4. All of Plan B’s referenced were glowing, giving them reassurance of the service levels offered.
  5. Without really understanding what they wanted when they engaged with us, Plan B’s initial consultancy period gave them the confidence that we had proposed the right solution and that we could deliver it.
  6. Our Technical Director’s understanding of their production system gave them confidence that Plan B had the necessary expertise.

Plan B has a 3 year agreement to managed the Disaster Recovery for this housing association.