Arnold Clark needed sufficient protection against ransomware attacks, and Cohesity and Cisco’s technology offering helped the automotive company to address this. Pat Malloy, Head of Networks and Platform Engineering, Arnold Clark, tells us how the Cohesity-Cisco solution provided the customer with a simplified, modern backup and recovery solution, which is integral in the transport industry as one of the most targeted.
Founded in 1954, Arnold Clark has grown to be the largest, independently owned car dealership in the UK, with over 250 branches and franchises. In addition to selling and servicing cars, the business includes accident repair, parts centres, car and van rentals and fleet services. It has 9,000 staff and an annual turnover of £3 billion.
As a distributed and diversified business, Arnold Clark has complex data management requirements. Its branches and business lines require immediate access to information, state-of-the-art record keeping and excellent backup and Disaster Recovery. Service interruptions can have catastrophic effects, resulting in immediate loss of revenue and reputational damage.
Responsibility for ensuring constant uptime and 100% reliable backup, restore and Disaster Recovery falls to Pat Malloy, Head of Networks and Platform Engineering. Malloy inherited a five-year-old solution built on what was, at that time, a very modern infrastructure.
Malloy knew the solution was cracking at the seams. It was difficult to scale and as the business had grown significantly since its deployment, the solution was reaching its limitations. Some of the pressing problems were: backup windows were not quick enough to ingest all data, separate backup and replication jobs were required for Disaster Recovery and low capacity efficiency was resulting in high cost, while storage limitations made it impossible to create data archives. In addition, critical SQL workloads were not adequately being backed up and archiving tapes offsite was both expensive and arduous, making data recovery time-consuming and costly.
When the company was ready to proceed, Malloy approached Cohesity with the primary goal of replacing the legacy backup solution. He evaluated three vendors, but only took Cohesity through to the Proof of Concept (PoC). He was particularly attracted to the way Cohesity and Cisco were partnering to offer a flexible and comprehensive solution that is backed by Cisco Validated Designs (CVDs), and within that, Cisco HyperFlex was a huge draw.
Moving to a hyperconverged model would be a complete architectural change for Arnold Clark, but the company was drawn to its ability to allow for incremental, non-disruptive scaling over time so that relatively small-scale investments can be made as the business grows and changes. Moreover, getting this capability from the Cohesity-Cisco solution came in far more cost-effective than its nearest competitor. Both the initial outlay and manageable ongoing investment costs were a key factor in bringing the Arnold Clark Board on side with the Cohesity-Cisco solution.
Ransomware protection was another central consideration. Having conducted internal exercises, Arnold Clark was aware that it had insufficient protection against ransomware attacks, which needed to be addressed. The Cohesity-Cisco solution has an immutable file system ensuring backup protection against ransomware attacks and also provides data encryption both when data is in transit and at rest. On this, Malloy said: “It ticks all the boxes.”
Arnold Clark was already using Cisco infrastructure, such as Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco Intersight, which made the implementation familiar and easier on one unified, programmable architecture. Malloy said: “A big attraction is that Cohesity is a certified technology partner of Cisco so we had the reassurance that it works and is simple to adopt.”
The Cohesity-Cisco solution provides Arnold Clark with a simplified, modern backup and recovery solution. Cohesity software on Cisco UCS is used for backup and data protection across core, Edge and cloud. This provides consistent capabilities and enables easy movement of replicated data across locations and clouds natively.
With complete visibility, the Cohesity Helios platform creates a simple way to update and manage data backup across all of Arnold Clark’s sites and environments. In addition, Cisco Intersight provides full cloud-powered life-cycle-management of Cohesity-certified Cisco UCS nodes along with an integrated support experience through the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC).
Certified with CVDs and backed by Cisco support, the joint Cohesity-Cisco solution delivers proven business value while natively integrating with Cisco HyperFlex and Cisco Intersight. The solution has overcome the many difficulties Arnold Clark had with its legacy system, and it can grow and flex to mirror changes in the business. Molloy has achieved a paradigm shift in terms of investment in IT infrastructure, replacing the need to make significant investments every few years with budgeted, smaller-scale investments that will keep the solution on track to meet dynamic business needs. Malloy has won favour with the Arnold Clark Board for taking this measured approach to future scoping and capacity planning, as well as budgeting. Going forward, Arnold Clark is working on utilising Cohesity on Cisco UCS for integrated file shares and data repositories with sensitive information.
Key benefits of the Cohesity-Cisco solution include:
- Simplified and streamlined IT processes. Hundreds of backup jobs are now reduced to five policies.
- Significant time and cost savings. Saved three hours a week creating capacity and deleting failed jobs. Six to seven hour restore period is reduced to around an hour.
- Superior capacity. 600TB of data in backup on 200TB of physical storage, resulting in a 2.7x reduction.
- Encrypted backup and ransomware protection.