Home of the Internet

At the heart of the community
Tŷ Hafan is a children’s hospice that provides care to children with life limiting illnesses. It offers a unique service to families in South Wales and relies on charitable donations to run the service. Tŷ Hafan also organises the biggest hospice lottery in the UK and a large proportion of its operating funds are raised through this lottery.

The lottery data is stored together with confidential children’s records and Tŷ Hafan’s donor database which provides access to valuable information on everyone who has supported Tŷ Hafan, including past and current supporters, how much each person has donated, what they have volunteered for and what their interests are. This database is stored at the Head Office in Cardiff where the Administration team is based. Because nearly all the charity’s funds are raised in-house, it would be impossible for the organisation to function without this crucial information.

Driving IT strategy forward
The hospice could not continue to provide services if it lost details of its donors and lottery subscribers. So Tŷ Hafan needed to remove the possibility of human and mechanical error and improve the robustness of its back-up and restore system. The hospice also needed to be able to safeguard offsite the highly confidential medical records of the children under its care. The back-up and restore process used to take place manually with a member of the administrative staff manually inserting tapes each day. As well as needing to be physically present the manual tape based back-up system was very slow to restore. A technical issue which arose during routine security updates to the server resulted in the tape system failing also highlighted the vulnerability of running the back-up and restore system in-house.

Key requirements: drive forward Tŷ Hafan’s IT strategy and enable the organisation to conduct day-to-day business without worrying about the risk of losing data; guarantee safety and security of children’s records and donor and lottery databases; reduce administration costs and increase amount of money being directly channelled into children’s services; reduce risk of human and technical error by switching to remote Internet based back-up and restore service; remove need to be physically present for backups to take place; improve efficiency of internal IT support for over 100 IT users at twin locations - Headquarters and Hospice.

Safeguarding the future
Previously the system was programmed at certain times of day to back up anything that had changed from the previous day. If no tape was put in, no back up took place. With the Interxion SDS system, the hospice can now rely on a completely automated backup system. At one stage, whilst Tŷ Hafan was running the tape backup system concurrently with SDS, the tape drive ceased to function due to an issue with the software. Fortunately, Interxion’s SDS system was already in place and back-up continued to be carried out automatically, whilst the tape backup system problems were being resolved.

Tŷ Hafan wanted the most advanced technology available to protect valuable records and data and improve efficiency, which helps drive the business forward. It enables its IT Manager, Alex Bruce, to manage the backup remotely across two geographically separate sites and to restore data very quickly at LAN Speed, by using the Local Storage Option, which backs up simultaneously onsite, as well as offsite to Interxion’s two remote Enterprise Class data centres.

Initially, the Secure Data Service (SDS) from Interxion was run using a spare PC, followed shortly by the purchase of stand alone equipment (NAS box) which removes the need for anyone to be there to insert a tape. Alex Bruce, IT Manager, Tŷ Hafan, says: “It’s a nice way to back up data to as you don't need to push any buttons and it does the backups automatically. I can completely forget about the system until I need to use it, for example, if someone calls for help to restore a Word file they’ve accidentally deleted.”

Optimising business performance
The amount of time between when an issue is reported and something needs restoring and when it is actually done, has now been vastly reduced. Instead of taking a key, opening a room and putting in a tape, this can now take place instantly.

“Overall, putting SDS in place means that I can go about the day to day business without having to worry about risk of losing data. The service is always running and backing up, and I receive an email every morning to say it has been successful.

The new Interxion SDS system operates using a standard business broadband connection. The remote system has proved very valuable. It is refreshed and updated instantly. If corruption does occur on one of the databases it’s important for the organisation to be confident that it can get the system back to its last known good state. Interxion gives Tŷ Hafan the confidence that this will happen, should this ever occur.

In order to ensure that all eventualities are covered, a disaster recovery plan procedure has now been put in place which includes all aspects of emergency recovery that would be needed, including Secure Data Service encryption keys, passwords and telephone numbers.

Alex says: “Interxion have been easy to liaise with and deal with all enquiries in a timely manner, with instant responses to emails to their help desk. This was particularly important. As the only person responsible for the IT for the organisation, if there is an issue, I need an instant response. It would be unworkable to log an enquiry and have to wait three hours for an answer as the nature of the job means I will have moved on to deal with other things during that time, leaving the user’s problem unresolved potentially, losing valuable working time.

“I’ve been impressed with the level of service. Interxion staff offer continuous support and were brilliant with regard to solving the technical issues involved in setting up the new SDS system.

“One aspect which was of great assistance was being assigned a personal account manager by Interxion who ensured that everything ran smoothly.

“I would recommend Interxion to other clients without hesitation and to anyone considering other ways of looking at a back-up and restore service,” concludes Alex.

Interxion is a leading European provider of carrier neutral data centres. Headquartered in Schiphol-Rijk, The Netherlands, Interxion serves its customers from 23 carrier-neutral data centres located in 13 cities across 11 European countries. Interxion serves network and carrier-based, hosting and enterprise customers who require professionally managed and strictly controlled physical environments within which to operate mission-critical applications and computer systems. Interxion’s data centres offer cost-effective and fast access to multiple local and global communication networks. For more information please visit www.interxion.com

Source: Spreckley Partners