Imagine, if you will, your worst nightmare as a Data Centre manager. It’s the middle of the day, the prime shift, you have thousands of products you have to get to commercial customers from your customer facing applications. Suddenly water comes pouring through your Data Centre ceiling. Maintenance men on the floors above have drilled through a rising water main to the building and before anyone can find the Stop tap (Faucet) the Director turns and says – “I’ve always wanted to do this” as he hits the Big Red Emergency Power Off (EPO) button.

DataCentre Flood.jpg

You are met by and eerie silence as everything in the DataCentre powers down.What’s left is the sound of dripping water and the sure knowledge that electricity and water don’t mix. After a period of drying out, you ask yourself why the datacentre was built on the ground floor of a five story building. Then the fun begins. No obvious water damage to the tech. in the datacentre. The floor void is damp but nothing the air handling units could’nt deal with.


Time to Switch on ! Those that work in the datacentre will tell you after an emergency shutdown things are unlikely to go well. Data Centre Tech. does not like being switched off. Graceful shutdown OK. Emergency shutdown – bad news. And so it was. Data bases in inconsistent states. Disk Drives that no longer worked and water damaged power supplies. And so it was time to restore !


This actually happened to me and I very quickly learned that backup processes are really important. More important is the restore process ! That’s where you  earn your money. And so we finally got the system up and running after a long night of restores.


You quickly learn is that tape is unreliable and costly to manage. Data loss is common and processes quickly become outdated and impossible to maintain.  This week it was confirmed that – TAPE IS DEAD – by two companies that had reached the end of the road with tape. To be fair tape has had a very good run. I fired up my late father’s open reel tape deck last weekend. Put a reel tape on that was recorded off the radio 40 years ago and it played. Tape – OK for Audio, not so great for digital.




There is no doubt that the move to the Cloud is driving the reevaluation of Backup, Restore, Archive and Disaster Recovery. The two companies at the forefront of this change are Wright Pierce, an Environmental engineering company and Spot a Financial Markets problem solving company.


Both had similar challenges:

  • Increased data volumes due to growth and regulatory pressures.
  • Issues with the costly management of tape and  tape backups.
  • Data Loss
  • Looking to lower costs and improve the speed of recovery.
  • Wanted a better way to improve data protection and release valuable staff time for more productive, strategic tasks.
  • Aiming to take advantage of low cost Hyperscalar Cloud Storage
  • Data Security

Both companies turned to NetApp SteelStore and realised immediate cost benefits

  • Easy growth management
  • Inflight data protection
  • Straightforward Low maintenance
  • Hack Proof
  • Tape elimination
  • High security

Here are the success stories – well worth reading.


Wright-Pierce SteelStore Solution


Spot Trading SteelStore Solution


Importantly the introduction of SteelStore does not mean that you need to throw away your investment in the backup application that controls the process. Indeed it is quite the opposite SteelStore allow you to protect this investment. Many of you who have had any involvement with backup will be familiar with the term 3-2-1. In short this states that you will require 3 copies of your valuable data. 3 copies of you data, 2 copies on different media and 1 remote copy.


Backup is your insurance policy. You hope that you never have to use it but as you can see from my experiences someday you will (This was not the only one – disasters happen!). The move to the Cloud promises new models for backup, restore and archive. The cost of backing up to the Cloud has fallen significantly in the last year and these success stories are good examples, with evidence, from companies using it to their advantage today.

Laurence James

Laurence is responsible for driving market awareness for NetApp’s products across EMEA. His focus is on business growth and aligning NetApp’s offerings with customer and market needs.

Laurence works across all of NetApp’s products and has an in-depth understanding of diverse customer requirements to deliver value across the entire range of the product suite.

Working with a dedicated and experienced team, he now assists in developing and implementing campaigns that support the positioning of NetApp’s Cloud Infrastructure products.

Laurence has many years’ experience working with all aspects of Enterprise IT and held roles at Oracle, Sun Microsystems and StorageTek.

For nearly 20 years he was Principal IT Consultant at the UK Meteorological Office.