Tata Steel satisfies SharePoint backup and restore SLAs with DocAve

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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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