Blue Label Telecoms

Commvault standardizes data protection, delivers maximum availability and advanced data recovery

Challenge

  • Lack of data protection and disaster recovery
  • Multiple remote sites with mission-critical production data
  • Acquisition strategy and global operations required a flexible, scalable solution

Solution

  • Commvault virtualized backup and recovery protection software, and endpoint protection of mobile data

Result

  • Ease to incorporate acquired companies including foreign operations
  • Standardized backup and recovery across regions
  • Maximum data availability and minimal downtime
  • Fast deployment

Industry

Virtual distribution and financial services through telecommunications

Headquarters

Johannesburg, South Africa

Website

http://www.bluelabeltelecoms.co.za/

The Blue Label Group (Blue Label) produces and distributes a variety of prepaid secure electronic tokens of value and provides associated transactional services. Main products on offer include prepaid airtime, starter packs and data; prepaid electricity and prepaid water; ticketing for events, games and transport; and financial services and value added services for the telecommunications, utilities, retail, insurance, financial services and transport industries. The company has a distribution network in South Africa that covers more than 150,000 points of presence, to which prepaid products are supplied on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The company also operates growing businesses in India presently with 130,000 points of presence and Mexico with 62,000 points of presence.

Obtaining a single view of critical production data across multiple geographies and ensuring effective data protection, backup and disaster recovery is essential for an organisation that deals primarily in virtual distribution of electronic tokens.

“Our business operates on tiny margins with high transaction volumes. So if we are down or unavailable for a very, very short period of time, we lose a lot of money. Availability is therefore absolutely critical. The Commvault solution delivers maximum uptime and availability in a single appropriate data backup and recovery solution,” says Andrew Murray, CIO at Blue Label.

With an aggressive acquisition strategy and a rapidly growing and diversifying business, Blue Label needed a data protection and recovery solution that would be easy to deploy and scale, and could readily be replicated across different global regions.

Data protection systems need to mitigate risk in providing disaster recovery or adequate data protection. Proper backup is essential, as is the ability to acquire a consolidated view of data across the various acquired businesses and geographies. Following a pilot project of a proposed solution, Blue Label identified its final requirements for an effective system.

One of the major requirements for Blue Label was the ability to deploy disaster recovery with replication at a secondary site for risk mitigation purposes. In addition, they required a solution that was easily deployed and configured, and which could be supported internally. Data protection, backup and recovery specialist DDP Consulting was brought on board with a Proof of Concept (PoC) around the Commvault software solution. The solution delivers a flexible, modular core software platform with a single virtual repository and index for integrated, extensible data management in a simple and cost effective manner, creating a foundation for managing data as a strategic asset.

The PoC immediately demonstrated Commvault’s ability to deliver on all requirements. The solution was deployed by Gabsten Technologies, the first Commvault Accredited Services and Support Partner in South Africa, who also handle all in-country after sales support on behalf of Commvault. Blue Label procured Commvault capacity licensing and the required hardware infrastructure, and within two months Blue Label was live on the Commvault solution with both backups and replication to an offsite disaster recovery location.

Data protection, backup and recovery specialist DDP Consulting continues to provide presales and sales support on an ongoing basis to Blue Label related to its product of choice, Commvault.

Critical data protection across the board

The Commvault data protection solution handles all of the transactional data in the production environment, which forms the core revenue generation system at Blue Label.

Disaster recovery on this data is essential to ensure business continuity and the ability to swiftly recover in the event of a problem. After deployment in the production environment, the value of the solution was immediately apparent and functionality was extended across the enterprise.

In addition to fulfilling this primary role of data protection on the entire production environment, the system also replaced the legacy solution that was being used for backup on emails and unstructured data.

Commvault is now utilized across the board for all data backup requirements. End point protection was also a key requirement for Blue Label as bandwidth is sometimes limited in some of the geographies where the company operates, which means not all of the data resides in the cloud but rather on an employee’s mobile device or notebook. Backup for end point devices also is being rolled out, ensuring protection of data ‘in the field.’

When adding acquired companies into our managed environment, we have found the Commvault solution to be flexible enough to easily manage the addition of these new subsidiaries with their workloads into our backup and replication environment.

— Jonathan Trope, Executive for Technology Operations at Blue Label

Core technology for replication across regions

Blue Label has interests in India and Mexico, as well as its operations across South Africa. After numerous acquisitions over the course of the past 14 years, the integration of core technologies became a priority, with a view toward consolidating these solutions in future.

At Blue Label Mexico, data backup and replication as well as disaster recovery were also a concern. In order to address this, Blue Label replaced the entire technology infrastructure and rolled out the same Commvault solution as was implemented in South Africa. The full infrastructure replacement took a total of eight days, with the Commvault software implementation itself completed in a single day.

The Commvault solution provides the ideal platform for such a diversified rollout, facilitating the addition of new companies onto the managed environment without limiting the usability of the tools. This was important for Blue Label as it needed to incorporate newly acquired businesses with ease into a virtualized environment, including Blue Label Mexico. The solution is fully vendor agnostic, meaning that it can be deployed in a variety of different hardware environments. Backup and replication services have also been extended to various subsidiaries of the Blue Label Group, and can be quickly rolled out at all future acquisitions.

Data governance, availability and risk mitigation

Blue Label has grown from an entrepreneurial organisation to a listed company required to meet governance and compliance requirements in South Africa’s regulated markets. In addition, the organization is dealing with massive data growth in excess of 400 percent in a single year.

By standardizing technology and processes, the Commvault solution enables Blue Label to meet these governance conditions and a hard-wired physical data and replication solution at each site, which can easily be rolled out, supports this. Availability is critical for Blue Label, as the business deals with high transaction volumes. Even short periods of downtime can have a critical impact in terms of lost revenue, so availability has a direct impact on profitability and must be assured.

While Return on Investment in terms of risk is difficult to quantify, the organisation has seen benefits in terms of maximum uptime as well as the ability to quickly recover data when required.

Supporting cloud migration

As Blue Label drives standardized infrastructure and enhanced technology security throughout the organization, cloud-based data protection could offer improved affordability and resiliency.

With Commvault in place, this migration is easily supported, helping to future-proof the technology investment and simplify the journey to the cloud.

Market capitalization on JSE

  • Around R7.5 billion

Transaction volumes

  • 5 billion per annum, peaking at 4 million online per day, maintaining a database of more than 61 million consumers

Platform/File system

  • Microsoft Windows
  • Red Hat Linux

Applications

  • Core switch written in Java on a SQL database
  • Virtual services
  • Exchange database agent
  • Offline data mining tool
  • Active directory

Hardware

  • SuperMicro Servers and Storage (data protection environment)
  • HP blades with VMware
  • Tintri SAN
  • NetApp SAN storage
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Commvault secures endpoint data with data loss prevention

Commvault® software is a complete endpoint data protection solution that increases end user productivity by providing unparalleled access to protected content for users to search, sync, and share without compromise to security.