Formerly, Paraca's administrative systems, including backup, were clustered at its head office in Tokyo. As part of a new business continuity plan (BCP), the company had decided to relocate its backup system to the Osaka branch. Meanwhile, Paraca had begun using ERP, the business software solution from SAP. This meant the servers running SAP ERP also needed to be backed up. As a solution to both of these problems, the company decided to adopt PlateSpin Forge. Besides shortening the backup process from 3 hours to 30 minutes, PlateSpin Forge has enabled Paraca to meet the IT requirements for compliance with J-SOX (the Japanese equivalent of the American Sarbanes-Oxley Act relating to corporate governance and financial practice).
When I saw the PlateSpin Forge demo at Novell's offices, I immediately knew that this solution was right for us. It was very reassuring to be able to confirm that the product is easy to use, and that in the event of an equipment failure, we would be able to recover with minimal downtime.Mr. Teruhiko IwamotoSystems Analyst, Administration Department, Paraca Inc.
About Paraca Inc.
In line with its stated corporate mission of "eliminating Japan's parking shortage and making things comfortable for our motorized society," Paraca offers an array of parking lot operation and management services, ranging from consulting to financing and business administration. Its company name is a mixture of Spanish and English, hinting at two meanings: "for cars" and "here are some parking spaces."
Paraca's signs feature a capital letter "P" with two eyes. This "P" also has two meanings, standing for both "parking" and "professional." The eyes also have a double significance. As well as symbolizing "site evaluation"—in the sense of meticulous market surveys and property surveys—they also symbolize "overseeing"—in the sense of operation and management, including taking care of cleaning, instrument problems and setting charges. In the company's professional operation of parking lots, the use of IT plays a vital role.
Paraca's mission-critical systems were running on servers in a data center in the Tokyo area. However, as part of its BCP, the company decided to relocate its backup-and-restore environment to the server room at its Osaka branch. Following this decision, it was looking for an efficient backup solution functioning between the Tokyo-area data center and the Osaka-branch server room, which were to be linked by an Internet virtual private network (VPN).
In July 2010, Paraca also rebuilt its mission-critical systems to revolve around SAP ERP. This created the need for a SAP ERP system backup solution.
"We have SAP ERP running on five servers in our live environment alone," says Mr. Hideyuki Nakamura, a Systems Analyst at the company's Administration Department, "and then there are our development servers and our test servers and so on. Installing standby machines at the Osaka branch to back up all those servers was tough to do."
This was not the only problem. Paraca had set up a backup-and-restore environment using commercial software; however, the failure of a physical server had to be handled by setting up another physical server, configuring the OS and applications, and then restoring the data from backups. Because this task was so time-consuming, the company needed a solution that would enable it to swiftly recover from server failures.
"SAP ERP is not linked to our parking lot operation system," points out Mr. Nakamura, "so even if SAP ERP goes down, our parking lot services are not interrupted. However, we are a listed company, so any system outage could affect our perceived reliability. That is why we needed a solution that would get our administrative systems back up quickly, even if the SAP ERP system is down."
In December 2010, looking to introduce a backup-and-restore solution for its BCP and its SAP ERP system, Paraca compared proposals from several companies. As a result, it decided to install PlateSpin Forge. Paraca chose this product for a number of reasons. One was that it allows a failure recovery test to be carried out with ease at the click of a mouse, thanks to virtualization technology. Its extensive track record in SAP ERP backup was another.
"We were shown a demo at Novell's (now a part of Micro Focus) offices," says Mr. Teruhiko Iwamoto, another Systems Analyst in the Administration Department. "As soon as I saw it, I knew this solution was right for us. It goes without saying that the backup operation is easy, but so is the restore operation, and it is quick too, so it has all the functions we need. Those were the main reasons why we plumped for PlateSpin Forge."
In January 2011, Paraca embarked on the task of installing PlateSpin Forge. The Tokyo-area data center where SAP ERP is running was connected to PlateSpin Forge at the Osaka branch by means of an Internet VPN. The connection went live in April. Although Paraca has now installed PlateSpin Forge for ten server workloads, it initially backed up the five live servers running SAP ERP.
The company that proposed PlateSpin Forge to Paraca was Dell Japan. One of Dell Japan's strengths was that, besides selling servers and client PCs by themselves, it could also propose a solution combining the necessary hardware and software. Having already studied PlateSpin Forge, Dell Japan was internally well-informed about the product.
It was obvious that Paraca's BCP would require more than just a combination of servers and storage, as Paraca was also struggling with high-volume, time-consuming backup-and-restore operations. Dell Japan therefore proposed PlateSpin Forge as a solution that would neatly meet both needs. One outstanding advantage of this solution is that the backup-and-restore operations take place in a virtualized environment, making them easy to perform.
Before introducing PlateSpin Forge, Paraca used to spend about three hours a day, after nighttime processing, backing up its SAP ERP system. Mr. Nakamura explains why this daily backup was necessary. "If we had just backed up the changed files," he says, "in the event of a failure, we would have had to restore the full backup first and then restore the changed files as well. That would have taken too long. For the sake of a slightly faster recovery, we took a full backup every day."
"PlateSpin Forge lets us perform failure recovery in a very short space of time," Mr. Nakamura continues, "so once we have taken a full backup, we only need to back up the changed files from then on. This has cut the backup operation down to about 30 minutes. When we first installed PlateSpin Forge, we were worried that we might not be able to finish the backup operation in one night, but in fact there were no problems at all. It has also enabled us to reduce network traffic."
"The verification confirmed that PlateSpin Forge is easy to use," adds Mr. Iwamoto, "and convinced us that, in the event of an equipment failure, we would be able to recover with minimal downtime, so we were greatly reassured about keeping our day-to-day operations up and running. Another handy feature is that, thanks to virtualization technology, verifying a restore is just as easy as taking a backup. In the restore verification, we were able to achieve service recovery in about an hour."
"Something else that is really convenient," says Mr. Nakamura, "is that if an equipment failure occurs, we do not have to select a server environment—a physical or virtual server—to restore to, and we can restore our services by connecting directly to the virtual server on PlateSpin Forge. Because the backup-and-restore operation is now so easy, we have also been able to meet the IT management requirements for J-SOX compliance."
Describing Paraca's future plans, Mr. Nakamura says, "apart from the servers running our SAP ERP system, we also manage file servers, servers running groupware and others. We still use commercial backup software products to back them up. Going forward, we intend to use PlateSpin Forge to back up those servers as well."
- Backup process duration reduced from 3 hours to 30 minutes
- Paraca now meets IT requirements for J-SOX compliance
- In the event of an equipment failure, operations can be swiftly resumed
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