North Devon Council upgrades to Arcserve

North Devon Council needs to ensure the safety of its data and must have a DR plan in place that minimises the risk of disruption to services. In 2021, the council installed two Arcserve appliances to protect 50TB of council data, including critical financial systems and the electoral register. The council has peace of mind that it can maintain business continuity even if a ransomware attack or hardware failure occurs, and the ICT team has more time for strategic activities.

North Devon District Council serves its 95,000 residents with refuse and recycling, environmental health, planning and development, parks and electoral services. The ICT department is responsible for supporting around 420 IT users who deliver these services, including employees, temporary staff, external contractors and 48 councillors. It also strives to help the council attain its strategic goals, which include achieving financial security and being focused on delivering the best for its citizens.

Like all organisations, the council must ensure the safety of its data, and be able to recover it as quickly as possible should an incident such as an equipment failure, data centre flood or ransomware attack occur.

“Every council department and service is reliant on ICT – from responding to planning requests to scheduling park maintenance,” comments Paul Shears, Senior Technical Analyst, ICT at North Devon Council. “We must have a DR plan in place to minimise the risk of disruption to services, especially those such as benefit payments that could impact the wellbeing of our citizens.”

The Solution

North Devon District Council has been using Arcserve solutions for more than 10 years to protect its data. In 2021, the ICT department upgraded to two Arcserve appliances and Arcserve Cloud to boost its backup capabilities and provide extra protection against potential ransomware attacks. “The Arcserve appliances have Sophos Intercept X built in, which provides a vital layer of protection against ransomware attacks and was key differentiator in choosing the solution,” confirms Shears.

The Arcserve appliances protects around 100 council servers, including 50TB of data ranging from application and file servers to databases and Microsoft 365. “Microsoft 365 licensing was included in our Arcserve agreement, making it really straightforward to ensure our user emails are protected,” explains Shears. “As well as all email communication, the Arcserve solution protects planning systems, council tax applications and the electoral register, and will eventually include SharePoint data too.”

Incremental backups run every night, with data replicated between the two Arcserve appliances and particularly critical data also backed up to the Arcserve Cloud. The council will use the Arcserve appliance’s automatic testing capability to verify the recoverability of backups for audit requirements. The solution also enables North Devon’s ICT team to easily migrate between different hypervisors, for example, from VMware to Hyper-V.

The Result

In the event of an incident, North Devon District Council has various recovery options, depending upon the nature of the event. “If a server fails, we can recover a server within our usual VMware environment; if the building burns down we can run services direct from the Arcserve appliance; and in the event of a ransomware attack, we can rollback data to minimise the impact to staff productivity and citizen services.”

With a single solution to protect both physical and virtual servers and the appliance approach eliminating the need to maintain backup hardware, the council’s ICT team spends less time managing backups and more time on strategic activities that benefit the organisation’s users.

The Arcserve solution also ensures that the team can meet user expectations. For example, if they need to recover a file or email from beyond Microsoft’s 60-day recovery capability, it’s a fast and simple process to restore it.

As a result of rolling out the Arcserve appliances, North Devon District Council can:

•Simplify backup management

•Recover a server in a couple of hours

•Prevent disruption to council services

“Arcserve gives us peace of mind that we can maintain business continuity even if the worst happens,” concludes Shears. “It also helps us work towards the council’s strategic goals of achieving financial security and delivering the best services to citizens.”

Zerto, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, commissioned IDC to conduct a major ransomware and disaster preparedness survey, which revealed that 79% of respondents have activated a disaster recovery (DR) response within the past 12 months. Nearly two thirds (61%) of these incidents were triggered by ransomware or other malware with 60% of organisations reporting they had experienced unrecoverable data during that same time—substantially more than the 43% response rate to the same question a year ago.
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