Leading Retailer

Topics: Offsite Tape Vaulting | Data Management

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Off-Site Tape Storage For Greater Data Security

Iron Mountain Off-Site Data Protection Tape Vaulting Services Help Leading Retailer Improve Compliance

Challenge The retailer was concerned that insufficient processes and inadequate storage facilities could expose it to security and compliance risks

Solution Conveniently located off-site secure tape storage with transportation services and easy-to-use online management tools

Value Improved regulatory compliance and increased business efficiency with measurably higher productivity

“The online tools let us analyse data on our vast estate of tapes. This means, for example, that external audits and asset management are much more precise. It’s an excellent service – one less thing for me to think about – and makes my life easier.”

Spokesperson
Leading retailer

Client

This leading retail chain has more than 100 high street stores in the UK and Ireland, as well as franchise operations in other countries. It sells a wide range of products including clothing, health and beauty products, homeware, and gifts. With online sales mounting rapidly, the retailer wanted to enhance customer choice by integrating e-commerce with in-store shopping. The first step will see the launch of new websites across Europe.

Challenge

The retailer is required to store daily, weekly, monthly and yearly records of its electronic data. Some records have to be retained for seven years; others for an indefinite period.

Electronic data from all branches and e-commerce sites is collated at the retailers head office data centre in Devon. Some 30 Terabytes of information is backed up from systems daily; a volume that is rapidly increasing as the retailer rolls out its online strategy.

Historically, tapes were transported at the end of each day from the data centre to an outlying industrial estate. When tapes were needed urgently (such as when a file became corrupted) a time-consuming manual search was required and the tapes then had to be collected by car. The logistical arrangements were cumbersome and made worse by the ever-growing volume of data.

A fragmented and inadequate storage environment created other problems: some of the tapes were locked in safes at the industrial unit, while those in frequent use were kept at the head office data centre. A company spokesperson at the retailer, takes up the story: “Tape storage racks occupied a lot of space at the head office data centre, and the constant to-ing and fro-ing introduced dust into an area that we needed to keep clean, in order to safeguard our machines.”

Additionally, there were environmental and security risks that the retailer was keen to mitigate at the industrial unit. “We felt that we could control the data better,” adds the spokesperson, “so we wanted to give the job to a specialist we could trust.”

With data regulation becoming ever more stringent, the retailer sought a safer, more efficient solution.

“We have recently implemented an additional media transport service which makes use of our relationship with Iron Mountain to convey media to our chosen BCP service provider. This has allowed us to reduce the time our staff have to be onsite to facilitate a systems recovery by eight hours, greatly shortening the process.”
Spokesperson
Leading retailer

Solution

The retailer already employed Iron Mountain to manage its paper records and so had direct experience of the company’s outstanding expertise from earlier jobs. An Iron Mountain audit helped the retailer define its access, disaster recovery and compliant storage needs.

As well as its extensive network of document storage facilities, Iron Mountain has specialised tape vaults across Europe, which feature temperature and humidity controls. The vaults and document facilities, along with the company’s award-winning fleet of vans, all operate to relevant European standards such as BS 4783. Access to the tape vaults is controlled by a double Porting Authorisation Code (PAC) key system with restricted entry.

Iron Mountain now stores and transports some 1500 tapes for the retailer. Of these, around 900 are re-used regularly. The service is tailored to ensure conformity with internal data requirements and external regulatory imperatives, such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which protects stored cardholder data.

Different data sets have different storage requirements. Retention periods are governed by strict policies dictated by data type and access priority. Consequently, the tapes must be carefully and systematically labelled. This means, for example, that time-expired tapes can be dependably recycled for re-use every day. Meanwhile, next-day delivery is provided for individual data recovery requests, with a three-hour service level agreement to cover emergency situations.

The retailer uses a secure Iron Mountain online interface to manage its tapes remotely. This channel is also used to notify Iron Mountain of tape recovery requirements and to convey other instructions.

Value

The new tape-vaulting service has brought numerous benefits for the retailer. The first is straightforward tape management: “The system is now very simple to use,” says the spokesperson. “We don’t have to worry about the box labelling and it’s all automated.”

Having a simpler, more organised system has also brought improved productivity and greater business efficiency. “When our people were responsible for transporting tapes themselves, they weren’t doing what we employed them for, and each visit to collect tapes typically meant a two-hour round trip by car,” says the spokesperson. “With Iron Mountain, we can see what we’ve got and where it is. The online tools let us analyse data on our vast estate of tapes. This means, for example, that external audits and asset management are much more precise. It’s an excellent service – one less thing for me to think about – and makes my life easier.”

The new arrangements have significantly improved the productivity of the retailer’s central IT team. In the past, should a system crash occur, a member of the team would have had to retrieve the appropriate tape. Now, with the Iron Mountain service, the retailer is assured that the tape will be onsite within three hours if necessary so that the restoration process can begin.

“We have recently implemented an additional media transport service which makes use of our relationship with Iron Mountain to convey media to our chosen business continuity planning service provider,” concludes the spokesperson. “This has allowed us to reduce the time our staff have to be onsite to facilitate a systems recovery by eight hours, greatly shortening the process.”

Success in the first phase has encouraged the retailer to extend its use of Iron Mountain services. Tapes from the retailer’s London HQ will now be stored at a more geographically convenient vault in London’s east-end. Business-critical operating data, vital to disaster recovery planning, will be updated and delivered regularly to the retailer’s data centre nearby.