With 56 chemist stores spread across three states, National Pharmacies needed to improve its manual backup process which relied on removable media like tape and DVD.
National Pharmacies' information systems manager Peter Skuse said each store has two servers for a dispensing application and POS terminals and users had to change tapes which led to problems.
"People didn't realize when backups failed and it was also problematic for off-site backups," Skuse said.
Skuse wanted to remove human intervention from the backup process and perform backups over the WAN.
To do online backups, National Pharmacies looked at data deduplication software from the EMC-owned Avamar and conducted a pilot with services partner Dimension Data.
Following a successful pilot in three sites the solutions was deployed to all stores over a period of two months.
"Now users don't need to worry about versions of tape software and it can all be managed centrally," Skuse said.
With an Avamar licence for up to 1TB of backups on the existing SAN, National Pharmacies is only backing up one version of the files that change.
"The volume of data going back and forth stays much the same as it's just different data," Skuse said, adding the volume doesn't appear to be growing significantly.
"In some cases we only need to back up one percent of what we would traditionally do."
The backup window is only small at about 10 minutes for each store and they are performed during the evening.
Most of National Pharmacies' core applications are based on Oracle running on Sun servers and it does have a few virtualized servers with VMware.
The company has used Oracle for about 15 years. It does a limited amount of in-house development and has moved to some Web-based applications with .Net.
National Pharmacies also recently finished off rolling out 120 new POS systems across its stores. They are NCR systems with Surefire software.