Singapore Institute of Technology Utilizes AWS Cloud Storage for Data Protection and Migrations Using Commvault

Posted 04/05/2018 by Mark Bentkower

Mark Bentkower

Many organisations have adopted some form of cloud computing. Most are using public cloud providers of some sort to archive data, helping ensure sufficient space in their production systems. Many others also are utilising public cloud providers for secondary copies of backup and storage for tape replacement.

So exactly what happens when a large organisation migrates most, if not allof its data, from a traditional "earthbound" data centre into the cloud? It requires more than just copying loads of files from one disc to another, because it also involves the collaborative assistance of every division and department of the organisation.

Take the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), for instance. Currently headquartered at an interim campus on the island-state, SIT also has five satellite campuses, one at each of Singapore’s five polytechnics. As a fairly young university looking forward to its new permanent campus to be completed in about five years’ time, the university already is facing the challenge of growing demands for data storage and processing.

So how does the university’s operations manager deal with a constantly growing demand for storage and processing, at an interim campus with a data centre near its full capacity for rack space, power and air-conditioning needs?

Capital expenditure on physical expansions makes sense if an organisation is spending a justifiable number of years in the same location. However, SIT’s temporary occupation at its interim campus does not give the university that viable option.

Introducing a ‘cloud-first’ strategy for increasing storage at SIT

Moving to a cloud-first strategy requires more than merely purchasing of data storage capacity and files-dumping onto a public cloud. It requires the right strategy and the right partners to make the process a smooth and successful one. 

Thus, SIT quickly devised a solution by undergoing a two-month intensive study to classify and codify its different kinds of data and applications. The arduous process also involved assessing the suitability of different types of data for cloud storage, because some were better suited for "on-premises" storage. The type of data application would determine where the data would ultimately reside. For instance, "student portal services" was an application that made its way onto cloud storage because it included full stacks of integrated databases and applications.

The bulk of SIT’s data migration and replication were accomplished using AWS storage services and Commvault. The university found great cost-effectiveness in backing up data to Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). Native AWS zone replication helped eliminate off-site replication costs and still enabled SIT to meet its service standards. Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) Snapshots are fast and easy to move. The university saw the technology as a natural progression for data protection and replication onto the AWS Cloud, because SIT has engaged Commvault as a backup vendor for many years.

But what about getting data residing on-premises up to the cloud? The process cannot be performed in bulk because "live" services were running. In addition to maintaining certain RTO/RPO metrics for specific applications, SIT leveraged Commvault software both for data migration between the on-premises data centre and the cloud, as well as for performing backups of cloud data back to servers on the ground. Some business continuity service level agreements (SLA) required physical proximity of data and servers on the ground, creating a two-way transport of data to and from the cloud.

SIT’s success story in "cloud-first" strategy shows that every customer has a set of unique needs that can be met if it engages vendors who have the flexibility of working together to deliver results.

Moving forward, SIT has given a strong indication to continue its storage expansion plans to other cloud services such as Amazon Glacier, and using other Commvault features such as data classification to help identify the right kinds of files for cloud storage.

As SIT looks to drive further business benefits from cloud adoption, the university can rely on Commvault’s AWS-integrated solutions and support.

Mark Bentkower is the Director of Solutions Marketing, Asia-Pacific, for Commvault. He is a technology evangelist who loves talking with Commvault’s customers and partners about getting maximum value from their platform investments - and looking at a fractured data center as an opportunity breakaway from outdated ways of running operations.