Liverpool football club is using Asigra's agentless, distributed backup and recovery software, Televaulting, which backs data up to disk. Backup Technology, a leading UK disaster recovery provider, is providing the service and software.

Liverpool FC was previously using legacy tape-based backup and disaster recovery (DR). Switching to disk-to-disk from tape was essential for Liverpool FC to increase the speed of the backup and recovery, as well as to guarantee a 100% success rate in retrieving lost data. With tape backup every time a backup of the i-Series based ticketing system was carried out, the entire system had to be closed down, limiting backups to once a day only.

This was becoming unacceptable. Liverpool FC needed to protect its data to ensure that if lost, the data could be quickly restored so that the daily running of the club would not be impacted.

Now, Backup Technology carries out a backup for Liverpool FC on an hourly basis without interruptions to the system, even during peak periods.

It protects critical business data across Liverpool FC’s three main sites: the main stadium (Anfield), and the two training grounds (Melwood and the Academy), which are geographically dispersed. The backup also includes data generated by the online ticketing information and the club shop (where point-of-sale data is generated), all emails from every office location, as well as desktops and laptops of key members of staff.

How the backup works

Liverpool FC’s main stadium, Anfield, hosts a single Asigra Televaulting DS-Client, which discovers all servers, desktops and laptops connected to the network before automating the backup of all local data assets from Anfield stadium, Melwood and Academy training grounds and the merchandise warehouse. The merchandise warehouse runs off a UNIX system, which manages all of the point-of-sale software. This data is included in the backup, as is the data generated from the laptops of key members of staff, wherever they are located.

Before the backup data set is transmitted to Backup Technology’s secure data center, the Asigra Televaulting software analyzes the data, finds new and changed file blocks, eliminates duplicate files across all locations and further compresses the residue bytes to ensure the backup set is as compact as possible. The software then encrypts the data before sending it over an IP- WAN connection to a centralized Asigra Televaulting DS-System server, located in Backup Technology’s data center, which consolidates the backup data from all distributed sites.

That DS-System server is then protected just like any other server within the data center as part of the organization’s ongoing data protection policies. As an additional level of data protection, Backup Technology has configured the DS-System server to replicate the vault to a second secure back up site.

Much better RTO

Ritchie Fiddes, Head of Sales at Backup Technology, said, “The main reason why Liverpool FC chose our backup and recovery service and Asigra's software was RTO (recovery time objective). In a fast-paced business like a premiership football, you can't afford to wait for days for a tape to be returned to the office in order to restore lost, damaged, or stolen data. A fully automated and internet-based backup and recovery service was essential for Liverpool FC and using Asigra’s Televaulting software, we were able to exceed all of Liverpool FC’s requirements.”

Backup Technology has provided Liverpool FC with a spare redundant server, so that should an existing server break down, the data can be restored from local storage to the spare server in a matter of minutes.

Hidden tape costs eliminated

Ken Webster, IT Manager of Liverpool FC, said: ”The Backup Technology online service has eliminated the ongoing hidden costs and wasted man hours we were experiencing with tape backup, such as buying new tapes, switching tapes, and transferring tapes to and from the storage depot. Our IT staff are now freed up to concentrate on developing new technologies to increase the productivity of the business. With the Asigra software we are now protecting all our emails as well as the data from our laptop users, when they are on the move. This provides peace of mind for both the commercial and corporate sides of our business."

According to Ashley Harding, Network Manager of Liverpool FC, "Should disaster strike, such as our PCs being permanently damaged, lost or stolen, or the online ticketing system crashing, this would be a major concern for us as a highly competitive business, and a high-profile premiership football club. With Backup Technology we know we can retrieve any lost data within minutes rather than days and with encryption of data in-flight and at-rest, stolen data cannot be read. The bare metal restore solution means that even if our entire technology systems go down and we lose equipment, we can be up and running again within a single day.”

Liverpool FC also found the simplicity of the capacity-based licensing model offered by the Asigra software and the Backup Technology service appealing. Because it only pays for the amount of data that is protected, and not on a license fee per server, desktop or laptop, it only pays for the storage it uses.

Backup Technology is planning on adding Asigra’s latest software tool of Continuous Data Protection (CDP) to Liverpool FC’s range of backup services in the next few weeks. CDP continuously monitors and stores any changes to files in real time and preserves copies of all previous versions of the file or object, so that the user can restore data to the point just before a data corruption took place. This tool minimizes data loss further and helps to achieve the Recovery Time Objective.