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Apr 25 2012

Hornbill Cloud Platform enhanced Supportworks backup service for our customers

Today we are excited to announce we have rolled out a significant improvement to our backup scheme deployed on our cloud platform. Our platform runs a hardened Linux stack using KVM virtualisation technology which we have optimised specifically for running our Supportworks ESP software. One of the capabilities this gives us is the ability to take on-the-fly snapshots of running images without service disruption – this capability formed the basis of our initial backup scheme. While this is an easy and popular scheme to deploy it actually has some drawbacks which we wanted to address. Images can be large; some of our customers have upwards of 150-170Gb images so moving these around is time consuming and resource hungry. Ad-hoc file restores are a real pain and are only possible with manual intervention, but perhaps the most important issue is that of snapshot frequency, which we currently do once per day, once per week and once per month in accordance with our SLA. The problem with this approach is, if we did have a catastrophic failure and had to rely on a backup snapshot then depending on the time of day we could lose data which we felt was totally unacceptable. Of course we have High Availability N+1 redundancy on each POD at all times so this is a very unlikely event, none the less a possibility – for example, a natural disaster that affects one of our primary data centers could produce this outcome. To mitigate against this possibility we have developed and rolled out a new and improved backup scheme across our entire cloud platform and all customer production instances.

The new scheme uses real-time replication of both database and file system data using a pull replication technique that works on data set delta’s – making it very efficient. This will not have any material impact on performance or resource utilisation on our customer’s production instances. Data from each customer instance is replicated to a secure secondary data store located in a separate physical data center in the same geography but at least 100 miles from the primary data center. We expect replication to be near-real-time for SQL data and a maximum tolerance of just a few minutes for other data such as file attachments and documents, with future product enhancements that will drive this time window down even further.

Customers can log into http://trust.hornbill.net/ and see a real-time status of their instances which now also includes a real-time status monitor for the backup activity. With this now in place customers can relax in the knowledge that their Supportworks ESP instance data is now safely and securely stored in two physical locations at all times ensuring service can be resumed quickly should any disaster in one of our primary data centers strike. The system paves the way for some exciting new features of the platform coming soon including automated data escrow, scheduled and customer requested snapshots and on-demand sandbox instance creation for development and testing purposes.

This new capability is provided to all of our existing and all new cloud customers, there will be no service disruption and you do not need to do anything to take advantage of this, the service is already enabled and the service is provided without additional charges.

Thank you for being a Hornbill cloud services customer.



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