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Building on solid foundations

Westcoast is underpinning its IT modernisation programme with a switch to backup as a service

Four years ago, IT distributor Westcoast Limited, part of the privately held Westcoast Group, appointed Karl Harris as CIO with the remit to modernise its IT after a period of rapid growth.

As part of this ongoing transformation, Harris reviewed backup provision across Westcoast’s sites, which had become time-consuming and problematic.

“Backup is absolutely critical, but there is really no glory in it. It’s a disaster if it goes wrong, so we can’t allow that to happen, but it’s not necessarily the most exciting task for the team,” he said.

“The solution we had worked, but it was a significant overhead with one of our engineers spending their entire time on it. That’s bad for the engineer, because it’s not the most stimulating task, and it’s bad for the organisation, because that deep expertise is limited to one person. Our IT operating model is 24/7 so we couldn’t afford to have such a critical task supported by one person.”

After looking at the options, Harris decided to move to Backup as a Service provided by business continuity and IT disaster recovery provider – and existing Westcoast partner – Databarracks.

“We mostly run on-prem with some services in the cloud, which run our high-volume workloads. We didn’t think about using the cloud specifically for backup, but it made sense to do so as we could use it as part of our strategy to maintain high availability across our sites. We could leverage the cloud to securely store and facilitate fast recovery of backup volumes even though we run mostly on-prem,” he explained.

The solution
After implementing Backup as a Service, powered by Commvault for approximately 1,000 servers and 2,000 Office 365 users across Westcoast sites, Databarracks is now responsible for the day-to-day health of all backups. It checks successes and failures with proprietary tools and trouble-shoots any issues, with its own experts on-hand 24/7 to carry-out recoveries.


Harris says that outsourcing backup to Databarracks has two main benefits. “Firstly, it saves our resources, letting us do more with less. Secondly, by working with an external service provider we add an additional layer of security to our backups,” he said.

“Our Information Security Team war-game the different scenarios we face. Backups are critical to our ability to recover from several types of incident so we must keep them secure. Using a third-party service provider takes the management of backups outside our domain, and keeping further copies in Azure adds additional protection.

“Backup is a perfect candidate for outsourcing. It’s critical, but it’s not a value-adding IT service and so not competency we want to spend resource on developing. We get access to the team of experts at Databarracks who do an amazing job and can reassign our people.”

Strong business case
Although Backup as a Service costs more than Westcoast’s previous internal solution, Harris says Westcoast was able to make a compelling business case for the change.

“This took into account more than just the immediate cost-comparison. We improved our resilience, gained access to experts and were able to reassign a valuable, skilled internal resource,” he said.

“Today, we are focusing on the things that help the business be more streamlined, efficient, compete in new markets and help the customer experience. Collaboration initiatives, BOTS, new warehouse technologies and software, along with mapping new business models, are just some of the many projects we are involved in as we digitise our business.

“IT resilience underpins everything. If we’re offline, we don’t get back the revenue that we lose. Downtime translates very linearly to lost revenue. Backup as a Service from Databarracks is a vital component in keeping us secure, prepared and resilient.”

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