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Compliance pays dividends for smaller firms

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Small to medium businesses may not be required to comply with the letter of new and emerging corporate governance regulations, but by acting in accordance with the spirit of the laws they stand to improve their business resilience.

This is certainly the case for Grotto Defranceschi, a Cape Town-based company which uses the Attix5 Backup Professional solution to safeguard its essential business data as an integral element of its good governance procedures.
Grotto Defranceschi is a specialist manufacturer and supplier of stainless steel wine, food and beverage tank and press manufacturing equipment. It provides the beverages industry with a range of products, including red and white wine tanks, fermenters, presses, tanks and coolers for the dairy and pharmaceutical industries and various vessels for the brewing industry.
Financial manager Craig Howell says that the company maintains an awareness of the increasingly stringent corporate governance regulations which apply to big business.
“While legislation such as Sarbanes-Oxley doesn’t apply to a company like ours, we nevertheless are aware of these and other developments in the regulatory field,” he says. “Despite that, many of the requirements, especially for data protection, remain pertinent for any business.”
Howell says that like many other companies, increasing reliance on technology systems continues to drive the necessity for a sound data protection regime.  “In 1996 we had four computers which were not even networked.
“Today, we are completely reliant on IT. Everyone is on email, all accounts are conducted over the Internet, we have a SYSPRO accounting system running on SQL; and various other packages such as Preactor scheduling software and Accys wages. It’s all integrated and even the manufacturing environment is computerized,” says Howell. “Reliable, secure and simple daily backup is considered essential. Even losing one day’s information would be a major hindrance to the company.”
Protecting the information contained in environment started with tape backups. However, even in the early days, problems were recognised.
“Not only is tape a hassle which requires manual intervention, we also found that it was not reliable. Errors with tape media were commonplace. Given that this is an engineering company and our drawings are of critical value, it was decided that a more stable backup environment was needed,” says Howell.
Research led him to Attix5, which Howell says was selected on the basis of its technology. He was also satisfied that the sustainability of the company was likely. “We didn’t want to choose a vendor which would be out of business in a few years,” he notes.
Michael Law, Attix5 MD, explains how Backup Professional works: “An initial, full backup of the client’s data is made onsite and the compressed data is uploaded via the Internet, or physically transported to our secure data centre, where it is copied to a fully redundant disk-based storage platform.
"On a daily basis, or as often as the client chooses, our software examines their data for any changes which have been made in between backup windows; using compression and encryption technologies, it then securely and automatically backs up user files over the Internet to our data centre.”
Law adds that since it is designed for bandwidth-rare South African conditions, Attix5 uses very little capacity by only updating those files which have changed since the previous backup.
Howell adds that the Attix5 platform is an easy to use solution which provides assurance that valuable data is protected.
“While the engineering drawings are the company’s lifeblood, we are also increasingly aware of the need to protect other information, especially for SARS and even as a record of interactions with clients and customers. With Attix5, this is simple – it does everything automatically, and assurance is as simple as checking the logs to see that the backups have successfully executed.
"If we need to restore anything, it takes just minutes to locate the required file and pull it back over the Internet,” he says. "We have also combined the essential practice of keeping off-site backups with the ease of instant recovery of current data."
Where backups are concerned, Howell says the importance cannot be over-emphasized – but that simplicity and reliability are essential features which help ensure that these functions are performed on schedule without fail.
As for tapes and DVDs, he has one thing to say: “No thanks. Now that we are accustomed to using it, we couldn’t do without Attix5 Backup Professional.”