BidAir Cargo revolutionises DR strategy with data backup system from DMP South Africa

BidAir Cargo revolutionises DR strategy with data backup system from DMP South Africa

BidAir Cargo is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bidvest Group Limited, an international investment company. The company was previously part of the BidAir Services group, a division of Bidvest that handles cargo in Africa. As one of the leading cargo airlines providing solutions and related services to the express logistics industry, BidAir Cargo recently teamed up with Data Management Professionals (DMP) South Africa to streamline its Disaster Recovery strategy. Hans Goosen, IT Manager, BidAir Cargo, explains why this project was so important to the company.

BidAir Cargo, a wholly owned subsidiary of the BidVest Group Limited, offers an express cargo airline service from airport to airport to 37 destinations in Southern and Eastern Africa. When the company split off from BidAir Services, which was sold out of the Group in 2020, all BidAir Cargo’s co-hosted servers needed to be redeployed and network infrastructure had to be reconfigured. The outdated backup system that was in place also needed to be replaced, and the company turned to Data Management Professionals South Africa (DMP SA), which recently joined forces with Gabsten Technologies, to deliver a modern, automated and more effective solution.

Learning from past mistakes

“The backup system we inherited backed up our physical server on site to a NAS device, and from there the backup was manually replicated on to hard drives that were then placed into rugged cases and physically shipped off to Metrofile on a daily basis. It was incredibly labour intensive, requiring a significant amount of human intervention, which always creates the potential for error,” said Hans Goosen, IT Manager, BidAir Cargo.

“In addition, prior to the split, we had been victims of a ransomware attack that had encrypted all our data, which then required us to completely rebuild our servers and redeploy from backups. We had to format the servers, reload the operating system and software, physically obtain the backups from storage, and then manually restore the data. The entire process took nearly three days, and we were completely offline for the duration. We also lost a day of data due to the encrypted backup. We had to prevent the possibility of this type of downtime from occurring again, so a new backup system was essential,” he adds.

Better, faster and cheaper

After being referred to DMP SA, the teams met to discuss the best solution to meet BidAir Cargo’s requirements, including a complete backup of physical servers, hosts, and virtual machines. Ultimately, the decision came down to cost in relation to functionality, and the quoted solution from DMP SA was under budget while meeting every requirement. From beginning discussions to completed implementation took less than two weeks, including migration of all servers into a local data centre with physical host servers and virtual servers, as well as interconnects and third-party integrations.

Goosen said: “With our new backup solution, we can restore our full server back to the time of the latest snapshot. We have twice daily backups going back 90 days, monthly backups going back for a year, and annual backups for the past five years, more than meeting best practice standards and our minimum requirements.”

From days to minutes

The automated backup and recovery system ensures that business critical data is always available and downtime is minimised. Each morning, BidAir Cargo receives a status report confirming the health of backups and detailing any errors that occurred and that were fixed. BidAir Cargo has tested the system as well as experienced real scenarios that required data to be recovered, and all incidents met the required recovery time objectives.

“We have challenged the system with a complete shutdown like we experienced during the past ransomware attack, and instead of three days to recover, it took just 46 minutes from the report being logged to being completely back up and running with a full copy of the latest backup data,” said Goosen.

In addition, at the beginning of October 2021, corrupt critical folders linked to several websites caused the sites to be inaccessible. The incident was detected and within a few minutes DMP SA had remotely restored the folders, seamlessly, minimising downtime and thus impact to customer service.

BidAir Cargo has also performed three quarterly Disaster Recovery tests for audit purposes since the system went live, and each was a complete success.

Offsite backup for added peace of mind

The recent rioting and looting in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal caused concern within the BidAir Cargo IT team about the ability to recover data should something happen to the physical data centres, and the company began to investigate out of country backups as well.

DMP SA recommended Microsoft Azure cold storage in Europe, and within 24 hours of receiving the request and costing approval, had integrated the new solution.

Ultimate peace of mind

According to Goosen, the data hosted on the company’s servers are critical to the business. “Without access to this data, we cannot function. Our backup and recovery solution from DMP SA. The new Disaster Recovery solutions has revolutionised our Disaster Recovery strategy and vastly enhanced processes with automated tasks. The risk of human error has been effectively eliminated, compliance and auditing are far simpler prospects, and previously time-consuming tasks can be completed in a matter of minutes Goosen added: “The biggest mistake businesses make is waiting until something goes wrong before updating their backup and recovery strategy. We had the unfortunate experience of knowing exactly the impact of an outdated solution, and we knew that we needed to address the issue urgently. Now we have complete peace of mind that our data is protected and available, which in turn protects our Business Continuity and our reputation.”

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