CESA Case Study – From using traditional Tape Robots to backups in the Cloud


Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) represents 103 Catholic Schools across the state educating approximately 48,000 students with over 8,500 staff. CESA’s mission is to provide quality education for young people within a catholic context. The organisation acts as a centre for Catholic school within SA.

CESA have been working with BCS in a variety of ways for 15 years, with initial engagement surrounding the management of the on-premises databases. Previously, CESA’s data moved from disk to tape. This tape was stored in large tape libraries which required the development and maintenance of database robots. When a specific tape needed to be checked, replaced, or moved, the robot would find and retrieve the specific tape from the library. At the time, this “robot” was considering leading edge tech that drastically reduced the time taken to manage these tapes.

The Problem

Fast forward a few years where there was a routine internal review conducted of CESA’s existing infrastructure.
Their current setup which was still effective, was now not as efficient. It had over time, begun to pose a number of risks such as when managing the transport their tapes in and out of secure storage, lost or damaged tapes was a constant. It required ongoing physical management of their tapes, escalating costs for tapes and their storage, degradation of aging tapes, and replacement of the actual robots when they came to end of life. There was also manual intervention at several points in the process. The tapes were managed via the robot which requires regular manual intervention as tapes are swapped. This robot also had failures which made getting access to specific tapes much harder. The maintenance of the tape library was also costly.

The solution

CESA was seeking a new solution that would improve efficiencies and asked BCS to investigate and if reasonable, implement a full cloud backup solution. Knowing that technology is continuously evolving, CESA decided to test the market to ensure they were receiving innovative and competitive services and wanted to check this was still the case with their current method of database management.

From this internal review and an assessment of latest technology benefits, a move to cloud was deemed the next logical step in their business plan. BCS’ capability in delivering these services, coupled with their intimate understanding of CESA’s history, current landscape and future goals, selecting BCS to deliver this next curve of IT transformation was an easy decision.

BCS was able to migrate the traditional robot backup environment to a full AZURE cloud solution in July 2021. The first stage of this was to create and develop the container. A container is a technical package of software that contain all of the necessary to run in any environment, in this case, subject to CESA’s needs. The following stage was developing the backup tool, this being the location in which the files can be stored and is in itself, the cloud backup. The final stage was configuring the backups, from disk to tape (what CESA was doing initially), to disk to cloud. With the plan to move to a public cloud, means CESA would no longer need their own hard or software; zero infrastructure maintenance costs; unlimited scalability; high reliability and resource flexibility.

The business benefits

This shift has resulted in multiple benefits for CESA, most predominantly in reducing costs for storage, replacing and recovering data from unreadable tapes as well as no longer needing to worry about failing robots. CESA has a storing policy of 100 years which meant all data stored must remain accessible and on only after this time can they proceed to delete data. No longer needing such a large storage facility meant “real estate” costs where significantly reduced.

There are also operational efficiencies, resource hours from BCS can now be directed towards value add rather than manual handling of tapes. CESA can now easily navigate backups with an instant recall – significantly reducing turnaround times which had previously been 1- 3 days. The shift to cloud has modernised and brought CESA to the forefront of business management capabilities. This greater efficiency of business management systems will have flow on effects to the rest of the organisation and allow for CESA to operate more effectively.

“BCS are a reliable partner keen to ensure they deliver value to our business; they listen to our needs and challenge and advise us during the forming stages of new strategies. If BCS say they can do something, I have confidence they can do it” – Phil Proctor, CESA

Cloud on your radar but not sure where to start? BCS offer cloud planning, transition and management services for the adoption of digital technologies and provide partial or complete management of your cloud resources and infrastructure.
In our experience, it is unlikely that “one solution fits all”. That’s why we work closely with you and your organisation to understand your environment and recommend a solution without the proprietary constraints.
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