PurpleClay Consulting achieves cost-effective backup through iWV

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"With iWV, we had greater confidence that service levels would be met and that the service would not be interrupted when key personnel left the company." - Gary Loh, Director, PurpleClay Consulting

Challenges: As a consultancy services company, a significant proportion of PurpleClay’s assets lie in intellectual property such as competitive market reports, manuals, franchising agreements, branding strategies and branding collaterals. It also captures a lot of data in the form of customer surveys and client interviews, as well as confidential information such as clients’ financial statements, business plans and government grant applications. Safeguarding this data and ensuring that it is properly backed up is a key priority for the company, said Gary Loh, Director, PurpleClay. “Firstly, every organisation will have staff turnover. If we do not back up the data, it will be difficult to ask people for it once they have left,” he said. “Secondly, if we do not back up our data and the system crashes, we will lose everything.” With no IT personnel, PurpleClay has been depending on vendors to carry out this critical function. It uses a Synology solution for on-site backup, with its employees backing up their work and other related files regularly onto the network attached storage (NAS) system.

Equally important is off-site backup, where the files and data on the Synology NAS are replicated to a remote server which can be recovered if the on-site system fails. For this, PurpleClay had been using a separate vendor for several years. Recent developments, however, led to concerns as to whether the off-site backup was actually effective. “As some of my team started to move from Windows to the Mac platform, somehow the off-site backup solution had issues trying to communicate with the Mac systems and the data was not being backed up,” said Loh. “It was quite scary. The vendor would come down once a year for maintenance and that was when we discovered that some of the user files had not been backed up for the past nine months.”

Selection: While on the lookout for another backup solution, PurpleClay came across ICONZ-Webvisions (iWV). Loh was familiar with Webvisions, which had established a reputation as one of Singapore’s leading home-grown web hosting companies in the 1990s. In 2006, Webvisions merged with New Zealand-based cloud company ICONZ to create iWV, creating an Asia-centred cloud and managed hosting provider. The reputation and stability of the service provider were important considerations for PurpleClay. “We believe that established companies are more likely to have proper systems and processes in place, and this is very important to us especially when our data is growing in terms of volume and criticality,” said Loh. “With iWV, we had greater confidence that service levels would be met and that the service would not be interrupted when key personnel left the company.”

Solution: PurpleClay decided to go with iWV’s Backup-as-a-Service, built on Acronis Backup Cloud technology. Powered by the AnyData Engine, Acronis Backup to Cloud is designed to backup, protect and restore data from any physical or virtual environment, including Windows and Mac computers, servers and mobile devices. It provides automatic backup of all devices and a single-window interface, which allows the user to browse, view and restore files from the cloud even onto dissimilar hardware. At the start of the implementation in August 2015, iWV worked out the scope of backup requirements and carried out the initial data replication. In the process of doing that, the iWV team encountered some errors. To identify the cause of the problem, a folder-by-folder backup was carried out on-site and another attempt made to back up the data to the cloud. It was then discovered that some of the folders were corrupted.

To address this, iWV worked with PurpleClay to conduct a one-time housekeeping exercise to identify the problematic files as well as those that had been sitting in the system for many years. The contents of the files were verified and those that were no longer required were purged or deleted. In all, it took about one and a half weeks to resolve the initial implementation issues and half a day to complete the initial back up which involved some 800 GB of data from the file server and another 400 GB from the company’s applications server. Since then, the backup has been running every day, with the updates taking place on an incremental basis. This means that any changes captured during the day will be backed up to the on-site server and from there they are automatically replicated to the cloud. The backup started running in September and other than the initial migration problems, PurpleClay has not encountered any issues, said Loh.

Benefits: For PurpleClay, the use of iWV’s service has helped deliver peace of mind with regards to the backup of its critical documents and data. “It is about the assurance that the backup system is running well and the customer service that we get,” said Loh.

  • Proactive services and support - One of the things that PurpleClay appreciates is the proactive support offered by the iWV team. “We get alerts if any folders are not properly backed up and the support team will call us up to inform us about the next steps that they will be taking,” said Loh. “The fact that they make the effort to call me gives me the assurance that they are monitoring our backups and that if we encounter any problems, they are just a phone call away.”
  • Easy to manage -  An easy-to-use administrative console enables the iWV support team to view and manage PurpleClay’s backup remotely. When there is any backup failure, the iWV support team can log in to identify the cause of the failure through error logs and notify the company. This is important to PurpleClay, which has no technical expertise in-house. “I don’t even remember the password to the administrative console and if there is a problem, I wouldn’t know where to start. So it is good to know that if there is any issue with the backup, I will be notified or I can make a call to get it resolved,” said Loh.
  • Greater confidence - In retrospect, the errors encountered in the initial implementation of the backup service were actually a “good sign”, said Loh. It gave PurpleClay greater confidence that the backup system was running and also led to much-needed housekeeping to sift out corrupted or obsolete files.
  • Enhanced security - With the Backup-as-a-Service, iWV also addresses PurpleClay’s info security needs, especially with regards to the protection of sensitive and confidential documents and data. All the data that is backed up into the cloud is encrypted with AES-256 for additional protection.
  • Lower cost - A dollar-to-dollar comparison between the iWV solution and the previous vendor’s also reveals significant cost savings. “We find iWV’s backup service more competitive,” said Loh. “The service is easily 35-40 per cent cheaper than the previous one that we were using.”

The company specialises in franchising, branding, customer-centric initiatives as well as grants and awards applications. It provides businesses with a wide range of franchise-related services such as market research, financial analysis, franchise system development, advice on franchise and licence agreements, in addition to the management and audit of local and overseas franchisees. On the branding front, PurpleClay helps businesses to conduct research, formulate their brand strategy and develop branding collaterals such as identity design.