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The UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board takes its IT disaster recovery solution to pastures new

The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has planted one of the UK’s most advanced and robust IT disaster recovery (DR) systems in its Warwickshire headquarters, after appointing Leeds-based virtualDCS to design, implement and manage the solution.

The innovative system has now been named the Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Project of the Year at the prestigious Storage, Digitalisation and Cloud (SDC) Awards.

The AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers, and others in the food supply chain to help the industry succeed in a rapidly changing world. The organisation’s aim is to create a world-class food and farming industry in the UK.

Jamie Blakeman, IT support manager at AHDB, explained: “When it came to procuring a new disaster recovery solution, we knew we wanted a robust DR plan, with a system that would offer minimal recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs), as well as using some of the best technology available. Ultimately, being able to access our data quickly and easily, and under any circumstances, was a key requirement.

“Potential suppliers were sought through G-Cloud, which is the UK Government framework that enables the public sector to procure IT services via the Digital Marketplace. virtualDCS was selected because the company could provide a robust DR solution, with very low RPOs, through its single CloudCover service.

“The new system was up and running in a matter of weeks. After the hardware racking was completed and software was installed, most of the installation and configuration was done remotely and the longest part was synchronising the data.

“Our old solution was a dated product as well as being difficult and complicated to use. Now we know that data, files and systems can be quickly restored.”

Kerri Milburn, project delivery specialist at virtualDCS, said: “To win an award for this bespoke and innovative solution is a huge coup for everyone involved, as well as reinforcing to AHDB how robust the system is.

“The challenge of protecting data has never been greater, with it held in local sites, on public clouds and SaaS solutions. This project was novel as AHDB wanted to protect backup data and provide DR for these scenarios, but they didn’t want their protection on the public cloud.

“In addition, it needed to be a secure and disaster proof backup and recovery system that offered native, near-time replication, as well as being easy to use, meaning in the event of an incident, they have the freedom and autonomy to immediately invoke it themselves.

“Our CloudCover solution allows them to protect and replicate their data from on-premise and Azure servers, as well as Microsoft 365. It offers full backups and near real-time failover of their systems, as well as protecting against ransomware and other cyber nasties.

“By bringing top-tier applications together, we can provide fast and reliable offsite protection. The solution protects both the onsite and public cloud workloads to the DR site in question, across different locations with ease, as well as providing the desired RPOs and RTOs. This gives AHDB peace of mind that they can failover to replica virtual machines on our platform with minimal user interruption.”

virtualDCS was also named as a runner-up for SDC’s Business Continuity / Disaster Recovery (BC/DR) Innovation of the Year for its CloudCover K8s product. The company launched the product to bridge the data protection limitations of the popular open-source container software, Kubernetes, commonly dubbed K8s. The solution is built utilising software from Veeam’s latest acquisition, Kasten.

virtualDCS recently became the first UK owned channel first Veeam Cloud & Service Provider (VCSP) to be named as a platinum service provider by Veeam.

This followed virtualDCS also becoming the first UK-based VCSP partner to achieve the Reseller Ready competency from Veeam last year. This gives virtualDCS an official seal of approval to resell Veeam’s entire product portfolio to its own partners including BaaS (Backup as a Service), Veeam Backup for Office 365, DRaaS (Disaster Recovery as a Service), off-site backup and MSP (Managed Service Provider) backup.

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