The Royal Hospital Chelsea (RHC), home of the renowned Chelsea pensioners, is a British icon. The institution was created in 1681 through a royal warrant by King Charles II, establishing the first public programme in England to provide for the succour and relief of veteran soldiers broken by age and war. The 66 acres of RHC grounds are an architectural landmark in London, situated on the banks of the River Thames. Today, as a grant aided charitable organisation, it continues to provide healthcare and assisted living services to its in-pensioner population while also being a national tourist attraction with an extensive museum and historical archive.
The Royal Chelsea Hospital bears a unique responsibility for managing and storing information, prompting it recently to acquire a complete data archiving and backup solution. The project had to meet the data protection and compliancy pressures of no less than three different business personas and comply to both the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act.
First, as an institution that conforms to the charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP), the Royal Hospital is required to meet the national requirements of charitable organisations. It is independent of government, being a Crown body run by a board of commissioners, the chairman of which is the Paymaster General. As a result, it must handle information and provide IT services conforming to strict standards. At the same time, it is a healthcare facility, subject to rapidly evolving regulatory requirements for information privacy and long-term data accessibility. Finally, it is a national treasure and its data is an integral piece of British History to be protected for the ages.
Mounting regulatory pressure and increasing use of the internal website led RHC to put in an email backup and archiving system that would ensure an audit trail of communication. After researching the options, the RHC selected email archive software coupled with file archiving, backup and data management technology from BridgeHead Software as the best solution for managing and securing email data under Microsoft Exchange. The combined software solution creates a managed data repository separate to the Exchange server for long-term, audited storage of Exchange objects including emails and their associated attachments. This data repository provides the archive manager with a robust, multi-copy, multi-location archive that can automatically accommodate the long-term physical secondary storage needs of the virtual email archive.
According to Isabel Prieto-Cordero, Royal Hospital Chelsea's IT and Telecommunications Manager, the solution was able to deliver several important capabilities in addition to managing the email repository, including:
? A backup/recovery capability significantly more versatile and useful than their previous software. Prieto-Cordero was accustomed to needing at least an entire day to fully rebuild and recover failed servers with their previous backup software. Tests with the new solution demonstrated that that process could be reduced to approximately 1 hour,
? Archiving of general unstructured file data in addition to and fully coordinated with email archiving.
The RHC team was particularly swayed by the file archiving feature. Because file archiving takes advantage of the same secondary storage and network infrastructure used for email archiving, RHC could gain significantly greater functionality at a negligible cost increase. Now, RHC could set up automated policies to identify general files to be secured in the data repository with the option to remove or stub those files in order to conserve primary disk space. They were also impressed with advanced metadata and content search capabilities, which like the handling of email archive, make the file archive more efficient for finding and analysing information in the data repository ? even over the long term. Furthermore, the archive would provide access controls and auditing capabilities, essential for compliant archiving.
In early 2006, the RHC integrated email/file archiving and backup system went live. All Exchange data and files with particular policy-defined attributes have been copied automatically into the dual-NAS archive repository structure. Tests have shown that this data is easily and rapidly accessible without complicating or degrading in any way the end user experience. Over time, automated policies will activate to take advantage of the archive to either stub or entirely remove older, less-likely-to-be-accessed files and email entities from primary disk. Through this automated grooming of primary disk, RHC will not only meet compliancy goals, but will also be able to avoid the continual need to increase expensive primary storage that plagues most IT organisations.
With a state-of-the-art solution for protecting and compliantly retaining email and other data, the RHC is now able to look at the strategic value of its acquisition. In the short term, it will have ensured long-term retention and compliancy for its digital information. In the long term, the RHC has various planned initiatives to scan its historical document archives and preserve them digitally. The file archive and backup software ensures that they will have the infrastructure to manage this type of ?storage forever' project.
Tags: Cloud Storage, Compliance, Deduplication, Disk/RAID/Tape/SSDs, Tiered Storage