The British Horse Society

The British Horse Society

The British Horse Society, the UK’s biggest equestrian charity, chose Total to improve its backup and DR. The new service provides reliable backup to three sites, and fast recovery when needed – giving The BHS confidence that their business is running on a secure footing.

Client

Founded in 1947, The British Horse Society (BHS) is a membership-based equine charity. It has grown to become the largest and most influential equestrian charity in the UK, with around 160 staff, 1,200 volunteers, and over 115,000 members. The BHS protect and promote the interests of all horses and those who care about them, with activities in education, welfare, access and safety.

Business driver

The BHS had an existing backup and DR solution that utilised an external datacentre, but it realised it wasn’t suitable for its needs. Backup wasn’t fast enough, relying on a single 40mbps link, and it wasn’t possible to retrieve individual files or to quickly restore key systems – putting The BHS at risk of losing access to its systems for an unacceptable period of time, and potentially being unable to collect membership direct debits.

Solution

The BHS asked four companies to respond to a request for proposals (RFP) for the provision of core IT services. After a rigorous three-month selection process, it chose Total to provide backup and DR, as well as other IT services.

Paul Perkins, Director of Technology at The British Horse Society, says, “Total stood out primarily due to their good attention to detail, and their relevant experience with other membership-based organisations similar to ourselves. I also liked that they listened and didn’t try and sell me something we didn’t want – the RFP was very clear on our requirements.”

Total Backup and DR supports the BHS’s 160 staff, all based at its headquarters in Kenilworth, as well as data uploaded to its CRM system by volunteers – for example, if they have taken photos relevant to a welfare concern.

The service uses Veeam software to make local, on-site backups of users’ PCs, then it replicates these backups to an offsite data centre managed by Total. Then, every 15 minutes, this data is replicated using Zerto software to another data centre, again managed by Total. This means that backups of The BHS’s data are stored in three physically separate and secure locations, ensuring it is safe, with no need to physically move tapes or other backup media. Data can be quickly restored to users from any of the sites, and The BHS has upgraded the speed of its internet connections to avoid bottlenecks.

Paul says, “Total Backup and DR is a great service, and it didn’t need a lot of input from us to get it up and running – we just gave the Total team access to our servers, and they shifted everything across, tested it, and gave us confidence that the solution was working.”

Total has also helped the BHS to migrate from on-premise Exchange to a hosted Microsoft 365 solution, including managing the licensing. Additionally, Total helped The BHS move all its users to Windows 10 with new laptops, under a Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) contract from HP – this proved invaluable when COVID-19 restrictions required staff to work from home.

“While I reserve the right to go to another supplier if I want to, with Total, because of the way they work, which is in a genuine partnership, I never have to,” says Paul.

Benefits

Management is kept straightforward for The BHS team, and everything is easy for end users. “I get really wound up by people who make technology a dark art,” says Paul. “People work for the BHS because they love horses, not because they love technology, so things have got to be simple for our people.”

Total worked with Paul and his team to map out the possible scenarios that would require them to invoke DR or restore a backup, and exactly how they would respond. Paul says, “Day to day, Total manages our backup, and we can rely on them to tell us if there’s an issue.”

“We have had to do a major restoration once, because a patch was applied to our live CRM system in error,” says Paul. “We couldn’t start up the CRM system, so had to recover it from a backup. It all worked perfectly, and very quickly – our agreement specified we would get it back within four hours, but it was a lot faster than that.”

“In the past, I’ve worked with big IT organisations whose first response to any question is to pull the contract out – I detest that,” says Paul. “With Total, even before we started the RFP we had conversations with them about how we were worried about our existing backup and DR, and Total gave us a lot of help to ensure we weren’t at risk – even though they knew they might not win the contract.”

“I would absolutely recommend Total. Their approach is fantastic, and their people are really, really easy to deal with,” concludes Paul. “I’m really confident in the backup and DR solution, and it’s good that I can give that confidence to our management and trustees.”