Ster-Kinekor Theatres is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Primedia Group, and the dominant player in the South African cinema industry. It operates 54 movie complexes nationwide – a total of over 400 screens and 63 000 seats. It also operates the art house Cinema Nouveau chain – which has five complexes seating almost 3 600.
Ster-Kinekor was using a data backup and disaster recovery solution from a third party which was adequate in its performance. However, it didn’t have direct control over the data, and had to submit requests and wait for a period of time, whenever it wanted to get data back.
With every aspect of its operational data – from inventory, to ticketing, to financials – locked up in this repository, there was a risk associated with data only being available at arm’s length.
Ster-Kinekor was also not effectively translating this mass of operational data into actionable business insights to drive future strategies and better understand its millions of movie-loving patrons each year.
Ster-Kinekor selected DDP Consulting, a local specialist in the protection and recovery of data, to deploy CloudProtect backup-as-a-service. They recommended CloudProtect (a hosted backup and recovery solution), that is offered, supported and managed by Gabsten Technologies, is locally hosted at the Teraco data centre.
DDP Consulting and Gabsten Technologies worked closely on the project. DDP’s Dave Parmenter explains the process: “We took a phased approach to the rollout, which took just a couple of weeks. In that time every cinema complex around the country was migrated onto the CloudProtect platform, managed by the combined teams and facilitated by automated rollout processes.”
Importantly, CloudProtect streams live information back to one’s database, with the intelligence to interrogate each file and identify what has changed, and then only update the data which has been altered since the previous day’s backup.
“This represents a more efficient, faster, and less bandwidth-intensive approach to data transfer,” explains Gabsten MD Iniel Dreyer, “and as data growth continues to explode, it becomes the sustainable way to manage ever-greater data volumes in the future.”
Within the first year of being live in production, CloudProtect has yielded a number of clear benefits to the cinema giant, including these highlights:
• Getting closer to the data… Ster-Kinekor can easily invoke data recovery processes and have essential data returned overnight, before the next day’s trade begins
• Significant cost benefits… CloudProtect created an astounding 50% total cost saving – in the areas of capex, opex, and reduced reliance on in-house resources. These financial savings and human resources can be channelled into new, innovative technology projects.
• New cinemas can be brought online in just hours… a great example of this is the launch of Ster-Kinekor’s impressive complex at The Mall of Africa, north of Johannesburg, which was up-and-running in just a few hours.
• Near real-time reporting… daily reports on incidents, anomalies, and any other data requests mean that problems can be instantly addressed, and the raw data can transform into rich business insights for the cinema chain’s management.
• Failsafe disaster recovery… in the rare cases of critical incidents, data can be recovered and a site can be operating again with rapid speed.
• Improved data governance… with accurate and comprehensive logs of all data, and all activities performed on that data, Ster-Kinekor now complies with world-class data governance and audit standards.
• Scalable and flexible… as a Cloud-based, generic data management application that can be modified to suit any needs, the CloudProtect solution is flexible enough to backup any form of data – irrespective of its size or nature.
• Single point of contact… through the Gabsten local support team, Ster-Kinekor has the comfort of knowing that it has one trusted point of contact, available 24/7 for any requests.
Ster-Kinekor’s IT executive, Andre Potgieter, comments that: “CloudProtect fits perfectly into our existing data protection managed services framework. When combined with Gabsten’s expertise in support and management, we have total confidence in the safety of our data.”
He adds: “DDP was the logical choice when it came to implementing the solution, due to its laser focus on data protection, its close partnership with CloudProtect, and previous excellent experiences working together.”
Ultimately, the CloudProtect solution has allowed the cinema operator to get far closer to one of its most important assets: its data. The backups are running well and data recovery has been tested with no failures. With Gabsten’s continual protection of the cinema data, Ster-Kinekor is able to guarantee the safety of its information and focus on its core business and innovation strategies.