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Unitrans satisfied with Redstor’s cloud backup

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Supply chain solutions provider Unitrans has implemented Redstor’s backup solution to provide it with better redundancy and a more cost-effective way to manage its file server backups across 152 depots in South Africa and southern Africa.
Part of KAP Industrial, Unitrans designs, implements, and operates supply chain and logistics solutions for customers. Established in 1962, it prides itself on establishing long-term partnerships with its customers across industries.
Its solutions include network design, warehouse design and efficiency, inventory optimisation, distribution optimisation, and transporting planning and execution. With offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, Unitrans has depots across South African and countries in southern Africa.

Problem description
“With our 152 depots scattered across a wide geographic area, managing the backup of important files was problematic. One of our biggest challenges was the manual process which required IT staff to change tapes on a daily basis. At times, especially in the more remote areas, tapes would start to malfunction due to harsh environmental circumstances which incurred additional maintenance cost and overhead on an annual basis. This meant that backups would not happen for several days,” says Renier Eggink, IT technical operations manager at Unitrans.
As part of the KAP Group, owned by Steinhoff, Unitrans attended an annual organisational conference bringing together IT managers across the group to discuss their challenges and the solutions to overcome them. Given the commonality of the Unitrans problem, Eggink was tasked to investigate offsite cloud backup solutions that could potentially be applied across the group.
Eggink continues: “After looking at numerous solutions, the main concern was that we would be charged per gigabyte of storage we needed to use. This would make the migration prohibitively expensive as we have roughly 22 terabytes of uncompressed file storage spread out across Unitrans.”
However, Eggink had experience with Attix5 (recently acquired by Redstor, an industry-leading backup and data management provider) at a previous organisation and decided to approach Redstor for an initial pilot phase.

The solution
“The proof-of-concept went well and we decided to do a full migration. While internal budget discussions were taking place, the Redstor pilot continued running and impressed us with the results.”  With Unitrans relying on Redstor for all its file server backups, it meant that all desktops, laptops, and depots had to be migrated from physical tape backups to a cloud backup solution.
Following the successful initial roll-out undertaken at its depots, Unitrans is busy migrating all employees, especially senior management to use the Redstor automatic backup scheduler to ensure critical files and databases are backed up regularly and not overseen. Their current “file sync” system has no built-in automation which leaves room for negligence resulting in important files not being backed up.

The result
One of the biggest reasons for the move was to have data that is always available off-site. Restoring data from the old tape system was a slow and cumbersome process especially when it came to searching for lost files.
Eggink adds, “With Redstor, data from a few weeks back can be restored within minutes. Compare this to requesting a tape, getting it delivered, and scouring through the system to find it. In the past this process took 8 to 10 hours to retrieve 1 or 2 files. It makes complete business sense to utilise Redstor.”
Furthermore, Redstor uses multitenant deduplication compression technology which reduces disk usage when backing up duplicate data. This was especially useful for Unitrans due to its extensive footprint of file servers spread across the region.
“We have also been impressed with the backup times. Our head office now takes only 75 minutes to run a full system backup with no additional staff having to physically swap out tape drives. This previously took 13 hours on the tape system and even longer in some instances where tapes became full and had to be replaced. Furthermore, it works great over WAN links – which was our core requirement.”
Eggink says that the Redstor solution also makes it significantly easier to perform backup integrity tests. Simply select the files you want to restore and have them available in minutes. It is also easy to draw and file full central management reports.
“With tape drives, doing random restores from tapes were not practical. Now, each depot can do monthly restore tests with myself having a central view of everything. Redstor has become the preferred WAN backup solution across Unitrans and will be the option of choice for other KAP Group companies going forward,” he concludes.