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Case Study: Southern Institute of Technology New Zealand

Case Study




• Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) was experiencing limitations with their existing backup tool, and needed a more holistic data management solution that would reduce risk, but also future proof the enterprise as its data management requirements inevitably expand.
• There was little visibility of the enterprise data assets, and management of back-ups was blowing out unacceptably both in terms of the time taken and the impact on SIT technicians.
• SIT were mindful that their current solution was reaching a stage that the data sources were becoming disparate with a possibility of data loss and ineffective response to a systems outage.
• They wanted to rely less on tapes and increase their use of disk for backups as well as introduce a replication and DR strategy.

Commvault Data Protection, VM management, De-duplication, Archiving and Search.

• Enterprise risk has been reduced thanks to an improved and tested business continuity platform and strategy.
• Time investment by SIT technicians to manage data protection has been reduced from half a day to just minutes; backup times which could previously stretch overnight and into the next day, have been reduced significantly.
• The previous challenge with data sources becoming disparate, and potential loss of data has now been addressed thanks to improved visibility of data assets and assured data management and protection.
• They have increased their use of disk in backups, relying less on tapes, and now have a replicated copy of their backup and archive data in Christchurch.


The Southern Institute of Technology, with its main operations in Invercargill – the southernmost city in New Zealand – is today home to nearly 12,500 students spread across four campuses.

Growth has been rapid following the introduction of a “zero fees” regime in 2001. Intent on kickstarting the Invercargill economy by attracting people to the area, local businesses backed the scheme in the hope it would boost the population and economic health of the region.

The initiative worked spectacularly well, generated a massive spike in student numbers (in one year alone enrollments leapt 46 percent), quickly became self-sustaining and by 2010 the initiative was estimated to be contributing $NZ210 million to the regional economy.

Since then SIT has been on a steep growth trajectory, which has also impacted the institution’s technology infrastructure. Nick Elder, ITS manager for SIT, explains that the data under management at the institution has soared in recent years, growing by 10 terabytes year-on-year.

A decision to move student emails and the Blackboard learning management system to the cloud has helped rein in the pace of data growth. Even so Elder still has about 46 terabytes of business critical data in his care, comprising SIT’s teaching material, student assessment files, applications, management systems, email, and file servers – including information on SQL, Exchange, Active Directory and Sharepoint. They also have 98% of their servers virtualised with VMware.

According to Elder the organisation was looking for ways to improve the reliability of their data protection operations, including improving the business confidence that when information was needed to be recovered, it would be available. “It’s critical for our staff to have data available and retrievable when needed. Information loss is not an option as it can mean increased time investment by staff and loss of revenue.”

For the last 12 years SIT has been supported by Spark Digital who provide the institution with a range of IT services and skills. Together Spark and SIT looked at how to address the challenges they were experiencing by investing in additional storage and looking at more comprehensive data management software.

At the time using the previous solution, the team at Spark Digital looked at alternatives on the market that would deliver a more holistic solution to meet SIT’s business objectives. This led the team to Commvault, which was not only on par with cost but provided SIT with unprecedented visibility on the status of their data, peace of mind about the protection of their information, and reduced enterprise risk through an overhauled business continuity and recovery capability.