South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Brigade Selects Yosemite

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is a metropolitan fire brigade, which functions under the control of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Authority. Its primary role its to help the community of South Yorkshire in the prevention and eradication of fires and the protection of the public within its jurisdiction. It covers the county area of the South Yorkshire region, encompassing the four districts of Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

IT is mission critical to the fire service and it underpins all the work of the employees working within the brigade. An important aspect of the Yorkshire based emergency service is its ability to use data and information within its IT systems to deliver an effective service. As a result, it is important that the fire service's data is protected so that if data is lost or corrupted, or a server goes down, the information can be recovered in order to minimise downtime for the 300 strong staff.

At South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, there is wide variety of disparate data involved. For instance, the system contains all information that is within Microsoft Office, important photographs that have been taken of incidents, marketing and PR material, payroll/HR systems and recruitment databases. The IT systems also contain important information for its core, front line staff its team of firefighters. For them, key documents that are all kept on the IT systems include health and safety manuals and procedures and dossiers on training.

In 2004, the brigade trialled Yosemite software as a new back up solution for its large scale migration from NT servers to Microsoft 2000 and Microsoft 2003 servers. The organisation needed back up software that was compatible with the new MS SQL server infrastructure. Local Yorkshire based IT systems integrator, Softassure, was selected as the IT integrator for the back up project as they provide a strong level of service and expertise. A further reason it chose Softassure is due to the fact the company is based in the Sheffield region so its consultants are available 24/7 to come in and help the IT department at the fire service as required.

With Softassure's assistance, the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service implemented Yosemite Tapeware version 7 as stage one of its project. It then followed it up a year later by installing the next version of the solution - Yosemite Backup 8.5. Yosemite now provides backup for all data at central headquarters in Sheffield supporting over 300 users.

The public sector organisation implemented the solution with one master server so it could do the whole back up from one server and a client license for each one of the servers being protected. The benefit for the organisation's IT department is that all the jobs are created on one server and as a result it can back up different tapes in different zones from one single source.

Implementation of the first stage was fast - it only took two weeks from receiving the software to rolling it out. The organisation is now well under way with stage two, which has included the installation of the next version of the solution, which is called Yosemite Backup. Softassure has played a key role in helping roll out both stages of the IT solutions and the integrator is now helping the fire fighting force to migrate to a new, advanced zone of highly efficient IT storage and backup.

During implementation there were some major challenges in the set up of some of the agents, especially the Oracle agent. Initially, it seemed that the Yosemite software couldn't detect the Oracle databases - however this was resolved quickly by Yosemite's strong team of technical consultants.

The new servers have enabled data to be restored and backed up more efficiently. Prior to moving to Yosemite, the fire service were using windows backup software it was slower and too basic for the requirements of backing up Microsoft Exchange server, SQL server and Oracle server.

The organisation deploys a 3 week rotation between Monday to Friday for the backup of its data onto tapes. It backs up a total of 13 servers that serve the whole of South Yorkshire. Everything gets backed up the same time. It is the tape drives themselves that back up data more quickly but the Yosemite software is the enabler of this speeded up service.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue has only had to restore one primary controller after it went down. They restored the data onto a new server it took the best part of a day to get the information back. When they restored it they had to input the data from the tape. Without the back up they would have lost the information on the server when it crashed due to a hardware fault. Yosemite did its job well and provided the safety net for them to run their business.

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