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The Challenge

Our client is a leading supermarket chain, operating a mission-critical business application deployed on Microsoft SQL Server technology.

They're dependent on maintaining a high-degree of data resilience and availability throughout an extended period of growth (circa 30% year on year).

Prompted by this predicted growth, the customer re-evaluated their IT solutions and made the decision to re-architect and implement a solution which could scale to meet with the projected growth over a 5 year period.

This project would involve network upgrades, hardware refresh, Microsoft SQL Server evaluation / design and an application upgrade, with all of these requiring the management and support of its associated partner prior to the go-live date. It was crucial that the solution allowed for a high level of data resilience and offered the necessary scalability to comfortably cope with the predicted growth throughout the five-year plan.

To this point the client had been operating a single SQL Server instance with localised log shipping. This setup had been poorly designed and configured, a fact that quickly became apparent as the business experienced a period of rapid growth.

The evaluation of this environment identified extremely high Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) and Recovery Point Objectives (RPO), while offering a low level of database and data resilience.The client specifically stipulated in their brief that they wanted assurance that they could still operate a fully functioning business, free from performance constraints, even if their current primary data-centre should be wiped out through unavoidable circumstance.

Our Solution

Xynomix’s initial task was to design a solution based around a detailed assessment of the client’s business, data-criticality and availability requirements. As outlined in the client’s brief, it was essential that their systems remained functional, even in the event of a complete data centre failure.

The Xynomix team designed and proposed a highly available solution operating over 2 datacentre locations.

Each datacentre would consist of a 2-node active/passive Microsoft SQL Server cluster, underpinned by a clustered VMware infrastructure (provisioned by the client hardware suppliers) and having suitable CPU / Memory capacity to scale up as the business demand increased. Utilising Microsoft SQL Server replication (locally and cross-site) Xynomix were then able to provide further levels of data resilience to ensure that two identical sets of business data were consistently maintained.

The system design and implementation process was subsequently backed up with a 24×7×365 pro-actively monitored/managed support service, ensuring that key system indicators remained within their pre-determined parameters.

The customer has remained fully-informed of support and maintenance demands throughout, ensuring that they are able to continuously measure the project success against the projected business plan.

The Result

Increased data resilience with vastly-reduced RTOs and RPOs as a part of a pro-active managed support service.

Following the implementation of the Xynomix solution and on-going support contract, the customer is now comfortable that their business would be able to continue as normal in the event of a data centre disaster, with the time taken to recover from such a disaster having been largely minimised.

Data resilience has been significantly increased with the utilisation of cross-site replication and multiple data centre locations.

Maintaining two ‘transactionally identical’ sets of data is now a standard business practice and provides the customer with multiple commercial and operational benefits. The provision of Xynomix proactive management services ensures that any system changes are immediately noted and addressed before they become a noticeable issue to the end-user or business process. Proactive monitoring guarantees that agreed parameters are consistently maintained.

In summary the client is now operating a resilient Microsoft SQL Server architecture that remains fully scalable moving forwards, allowing for the successful realisation of their five-year growth plan. Xynomix have continued to work with the customer continuously since the project commenced in 2011.

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The number of checks our RDAP monitoring application carries out in 24 hours.

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What they say

We have been running Microsoft SQL Server for around two years now and the systems have been supported by Xynomix for the last 7 months. Their SQL DBAs are competent and very customer-facing.

Lead DBA

Manufacturing industry