Key Information Systems Inc. Delivers Hybrid Cloud Data Protection at Enterprise Scale



Clayton Weise | Director of Cloud, Key Information Systems Inc.

Business Challenge

With data volumes and complexity growing rapidly, how can enterprises maintain reliable, cost-effective protection and rapid recovery for their mission-critical data and virtual server landscapes?


Using IBM® Spectrum Protect™ with Silverstring Predatar, KeyInfo provides fully managed, hybrid cloud data protection solutions for business clients with strict recovery and compliance requirements.

“IBM Spectrum Protect is a powerful, well designed data protection solution that enables us to manage large and complex landscapes with a high degree of efficiency.”

Key Information Systems Inc. (KeyInfo) is dedicated to being the leading provider of IT solutions in the western US by providing best-of-breed solutions and excellent customer service. With highly qualified staff, KeyInfo provides corporate infrastructure, business continuity and storage solutions.

The Limits of Public Cloud
In the consumer and small business space, public-cloud backup providers represent a convenient, low-cost way to automatically back up important files and store them offsite. For enterprises, such providers may not be able to cope with block storage and will tend to offer insufficient scalability, performance and reliability. These enterprises must therefore maintain costly in-house data-protection systems and expertise, diverting focus and investment from core business activities.Clayton Weise, Director of Cloud at KeyInfo, comments: “There is a growing culture of never deleting anything—in part because the price of storage is always falling. However, this is making it harder to ensure that data and virtual machines are correctly backed up and recoverable within reasonable timescales.”

To address the lack of enterprise data protection options in the market, KeyInfo set out to combine the convenience and cost benefits of a cloud-based multi-tenant backup solution with the security, reliability and performance of an on premises enterprise solution.

Scaling to the Challenge
KeyInfo chose to base its new enterprise data protection solution on IBM Spectrum Protect (formerly IBM Tivoli® Storage Manager).Weise explains: “For large and complex enterprise landscapes, scalability is the key requirement. A typical backup may range from 100 to 500 TB, and Spectrum Protect easily scales to the multi-petabyte

To simplify the creation and management of its multi-tenant landscape, KeyInfo also deployed Predatar from Silverstring, which provides a web front-end for Spectrum Protect. Clients can use Predatar to access and administer their own backup and recovery environments, but tend to hand over the day-to-day management to KeyInfo as their confidence in the solution and the service grows. Some clients back up their data directly to the KeyInfo private cloud, but most use a hybrid cloud approach in which a local instance of Spectrum Protect acts as master backup system, synchronizing its data with an offsite copy in the KeyInfo private cloud.

The KeyInfo private cloud includes IBM Power Systems™ servers, IBM Storwize® V7000 disk arrays and IBM ProtecTIER® deduplication appliances. “We typically achieve an 8:1 compression ratio, and the capacity savings enable us to offer a very competitive flat price per TB to all clients,” says Weise. “Virtual machines – running on IBM PowerVM® and VMware hypervisors – feature heavily in our clients’ backups, and we also handle many critically important Oracle applications running on IBM AIX®. Our expertise in AIX sets us apart from our competitors, and enables our clients to extend the reliability of this technology into their backups as well.”

To further improve the speed and ease of recovery for clients, KeyInfo is now working to enable the automated recovery of virtual machines from backups to both Intel processor-based servers and Power Systems servers in its data center. When complete, this option will allow clients to restart their virtual servers within minutes in the event of a disaster, enabling them to get their business back up and running even if their own data center is out of action.

Economies of Scale
“Enterprise data backup can often seem both a painful and a thankless task: no one really wants to take responsibility for something where you get no credit if it goes right, and huge blame if it goes wrong,” says Weise. “With our managed service based on IBM Spectrum Protect and Silverstring Predatar, we solve the challenge and remove the uncertainty.”The main benefit for KeyInfo’s enterprise clients is the elimination of the daily management and maintenance of data backup and recovery. KeyInfo takes on responsibility for keeping data and systems backed up and recoverable, providing permanent, expert, round-the-clock cover that is shared across multiple clients.

“Economy of scale across shared services is the heart of our business model,” comments Weise. “We provide a level of cover that any single enterprise could not justify in cost terms and will only ever need on an occasional basis. It’s hard to find this level of expertise in the market, and even harder to retain it if that person’s time is largely unoccupied.”

Expertise as a Service
KeyInfo can also help when it comes to compliance with federal regulations. For example, the company holds SSAE 18 certification and HIPAA HITECH for healthcare data. Clients in this industry can simply ask for a copy of KeyInfo’s HIPAA report when their auditors request it, avoiding the arduous procedure of having their entire backup process audited.Using Spectrum Protect, KeyInfo achieves more than 99% first time success for backups, and provides expert manual intervention to ensure completion for those jobs that do not go through automatically. Combined with Predatar, the solution enables clients to manage backup across different tiers of storage and set policies for migration and retention across these tiers.

“Clients can choose to manage backup for themselves, or KeyInfo can provide a secure, reliable, fully managed service that enables them to focus on their core business,” says Weise. “IBM Spectrum Protect is a powerful, well designed data protection solution that enables us to manage large and complex landscapes with a high degree of efficiency. This efficiency, scaled across multiple clients, is what makes it possible for KeyInfo to provide both better quality and lower costs than a single enterprise can achieve running an on premises solution.”