Home Group is reported to be the first housing provider to invest in an innovative ‘metrocluster’ high-security data storage system.
Home Group worked with data centre and IT infrastructure experts ITPS to create an off-site data storage network more commonly seen in international finance corporations and telecoms providers.
The metrocluster system sends sensitive data from Home Group along a private network of fibre-optic cabling to two separate off-site storage centres 15 miles apart.
The system uses continuous and synchronous replication of data, meaning that if either of the two sites become unavailable due to network issues or a disaster such as flooding or fire, the other one will continue to operate without any loss of data.
David Redpath, director of IS, Home Group, said, “As one of the UK’s largest housing providers operating in more than 200 local authority areas, we need to have reliable ICT which allows us to provide a high level of service at all hours of the day or night.
“We now have a single unified and virtualised IT infrastructure, held securely offsite. That brings economies of scale and allows us to allocate computing resources where and when they are needed.”
The system uses ITPS’s ISO27001-certified data centres, ensuring that systems and data are always fully protected. The objective is to create an ‘always on’ solution that maximises the availability of the infrastructure to users. ITPS said that metroclusters are more often used by financial institutions, telecoms providers and other organisations for which downtime would be unthinkable.
Garry Sheriff, managing director, ITPS, said, “A metrocluster is a highly cost-effective, synchronous replication solution for combining high availability and disaster recovery in one package, protecting data by using two physically-separated, mirrored clusters. As well as having the systems and data synchronously available in two locations, it allows computing power to seamlessly load balance itself between the two sites.
“Home Group’s metrocluster supports what we call a zero recovery point objective. This means that if a system component fails, no information is lost during the recovery process.
“Through our status as one of only 10 UK Virgin Media Business strategic partners, we were able to commission £1m-worth of fibre runs to underpin Home Group’s solution. We believe that no other housing group has this level of sophisticated backup and security; it is a first for the sector.”