Tata Steel satisfies SharePoint backup and restore SLAs with DocAve

Tata Steel is a top 10 global steel maker and the world's second most geographically diversified steel producer. The company was founded in India in 1907 and, since 2004, has expanded globally, acquiring Asian steel producers NatSteel and Millennium Steel (now called Tata Steel Thailand) as well as Europe's second largest steel producer Corus (now called Tata Steel Europe Limited). Tata Steel is part of the Tata Group, India's largest industrial conglomerate.

After Tata Steel (headquartered in Mumbai) purchased Corus (headquartered in London) in 2009, it was clear that the company needed a business collaboration platform in order for colleagues based in multiple locations worldwide to work together effectively. Tata ultimately decided upon Microsoft SharePoint to connect knowledge-workers and manage digital assets for globally dispersed organisations

Using Windows SharePoint Services v3, Tata developed a production environment that included one web front end server and one SQL Server. Workers quickly adopted the platform, with project teams immediately sharing schedules and storing files in its centralized repository. At present, the company's Research, Development, & Technology (RD&T) department alone has nearly 1,200 SharePoint users, with three sites in the UK and one in the Netherlands. However, any of Tata Steel's 80,000 employees can access department data and research findings housed in the SharePoint environment. Tata's IT administrators make default SharePoint sites with custom web apps available upon request for employees, who often use the platform to maintain blogs, wikis, and forums for their teams. The organisation's SharePoint environment currently holds about 35 gigabytes of data.

But while Tata found great benefits in SharePoint's ability to seamlessly connect its employees and enable more effective enterprise-wide collaboration, the company encountered a significant challenge in its need to backup and restore the platform. In order to comply with stringent company-wide service level agreements, administrators needed to schedule regular backups of its SharePoint environment, as well as perform backups on a one-off basis and restore the entire farm when needed. While SharePoint offers some native options for backup and recovery, the native tools were difficult to harness and not thorough enough to meet the company's SLA requirements.

"It is company policy to only use IT solutions which offer appropriate back-up and recovery options and Microsoft tools did not offer the required functionality," said Kai van Dijk, System Administrator for RD&T. Thus, a need for a third-party solution was immediately evident from the beginning of Tata's deployment.

The AvePoint solution
Administrators reviewed several software solutions, including AvePoint's DocAve Software Platform, at the suggestion of a consultant. While other solutions proved difficult to set up and manage, DocAve installed and worked immediately with no extra configurations required.

Part of DocAve's fully integrated platform with more than 30 independently deployable modules, DocAve Backup and Restore offers fast, flexible, and customisable backup for SharePoint. When Tata initially installed DocAve toward the beginning of its SharePoint deployment, only platform-level backups were needed. With DocAve Backup and Restore, Tata was able to perform the necessary backups and comply with company policies with ease, and its entire SharePoint environment was protected in full fidelityincluding all metadata, securities, and version histories.

As the organisation's use of SharePoint grew and the amount of data within the environment increased significantly, Tata needed to scale its backup plan accordingly. At this point, administrators decided to carry out incremental, granular backups every two weeks and full granular platform backups every month. DocAve's granular backup scheduling enabled administrators to run backup processes according to these specific business needs and organizational timetables. With backups scheduled to take place over night, interruption during business hours was avoided and overall platform performance optimized for end- users.

As with most organisations running SharePoint, administrators encountered several instances when platform content needed to be restored whether due to accidental deletion by an end-user or file corruption. DocAve allowed administrators to quickly and easily recover all SharePoint components, databases, indexes, and configurations down to the item-level. Whether a full site or single document needed to be rescued, administrators were able to do so in as fast as one minute and return the content to the end-user during business hours, meeting both recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives without issue.

"DocAve Backup and Restore has given me complete peace of mind," said van Dijk. "Not only does the solution keep our SharePoint data secure, but it does so in a way that fully complies with our organisation's existing backup and restore policy for all technologies."

With a substantial network of knowledge-workers spread across multiple locales, Tata Steel found tremendous value in SharePoint's ability to connect its staff and enable efficient business collaboration. But when SharePoint's native backup and recovery tools proved inadequate to protect and restore business-critical data as well as satisfy company policy, DocAve Backup and Restore provided an ideal solution.

Customisable according to specific business needs, DocAve Backup and Restore enabled Tata to selectively backup all SharePoint components, while protecting the entire server farm. Intuitive and user- friendly scheduling abilities allowed backups to take place during times when business would be impacted the least. Additionally, full-fidelity restores could be made down to the item-level, saving important content on an as-needed basis with a minimal amount of time and effort required from administrators.

Tata administrators also took advantage of AvePoint's live technical support service regularly from the very beginning of its DocAve deployment. "Whether we had basic questions during the installation process or issues with platform restores, the technical support team always responds to our inquiries and resolves our issues swiftly," said van Dijk.

With Tata Steel's backup and restore policies met through DocAve and AvePoint's technical staff providing support whenever needed, administrators were able to rest easy and save significant time for other important projects including developing plans for the next stages of the organisation's SharePoint deployment.

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