Morrish Solicitors reduces backup times with Acronis software solution

Morrish Solicitors has reduced its backup times and ditched its legacy tape storage after installing a new backup system.

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Morrish Solicitors has reduced its backup times by ditching its legacy tape storage and installing a new backup system from Acronis.

Legal firm Morrish chose to implement Acronis Backup & Recovery as it overhauled its storage infrastructure in order to deal with an “exponential” increase in data.

Morrish has a head office in Leeds with a further three branch offices, and employs around one hundred staff in its business, providing legal support to unions.

The firm had previously been using HP Ultrium tape storage systems along with Symantec Backup Exec to store and back up documents, but found that lengthy system backup times were creating problems as data grew.

“Like everybody else we find that our storage requirements are growing exponentially at the moment, especially from a legal perspective, as we have to keep documents for a minimum of ten years or longer in certain instances,” said Jaime Lockwood, IT manager at Morrish Solicitors for the past five years.

Previously the firm had used Symantec Backup Exec with its tape storage systems, but eighteen months ago looked to replace this with the Acronis solution.  

“We had always used Backup Exec on tape media, but because storage was becoming an issue, backups were also becoming a bigger and bigger issue,” Lockwood said. “The length of time, even on faster devices, was becoming a problem. We wanted something that was a little bit more flexible."

Lockwood said that the company had previously attempted to move towards disk-to-disk storage using Backup Exec, but experienced problems, such as slow back up times.

“We looked to see if it was a network issue, if it was a read/write issue, hardware issue, but couldn’t pin it down,” he said.

The installation and setup of Acronis was simple, with a trial implementation taking less than an hour to get up and running, Lockwood said.

“One of the first things that we did was a backup of one of our old application servers, which was a 2003 database server, using old Acer hardware.  We backed it up and we did a full bare-metal restore over our network onto a Dell PC, and it was no issue, it came straight back up.  That flexibility is just something that we had to have.”

With its new systems in place Morrish currently stores 750GB of data, with a total of 2TB capacity for file storage, with another 4TB available over two sites for backup. This involves running Dell 710s 16GB RAM rackmount servers, including an exchange server, a database server, document server.  There are also virtualised terminal servers, running Windows 2008 R2 and using Hyper-V.

The introduction of Acronis and the disk-to-disk backup has enabled a number of business benefits.  Full system backup times have been reduced by 30 percent for example, while there is greater confidence in recoverability of data. 

There is also more flexibility to backup to multiple storage areas, and to recover a physical server as a virtualised server.

The Acronis software also enabled a reduction in labour, particularly from an IT perspective.

“Labour alone, my time and anyone else time involved in the project, it is a fraction of the time from what we were used to when we were trying to implement new versions of Backup Exec,” Lockwood said.

This also meant less involvement in the recovery process for IT staff. “You can pass a number of restore jobs on the admin side over to the end user and let them recover what they need.”

There are also benefits as a legal company in terms of meeting regulatory requirements, such as the Lexcel management practice standard.

“We have been keenly involved in that for a number of years, so much so that we have outside assessors come in. One of the questions is about peoples’ data, which is very sensitive information, so you have to make sure that it is secure, backed up and safe,” he said.

“One of the things they do is audit, and because of the way that Acronis works reporting is easy. The data retrieval is so easy that we were able to demonstrate it live to them, retrieving information and logs of backups and restores."

Lockwood added that the introduction of Acronis software means that he can now look towards putting dedicated storage in place as part of a forthcoming project to digitise its store of physical files.

“Our only requirements at the moment are using a file server.  Our project for this year is to move that over to a NAS, and that will then be replicated as a NAS at one of our branch offices, which we are doing now.”

Lockwood said that the introduction of Acronis software will enable it to increase its storage as it begins digitising records.

“Scanning of document will be the next major project. This will involve substantial increase in storage demands. Storage now is relatively cheap, we just want to make sure that we have something with enough flexibility to expand.”

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