When dropping a server into a vat of liquid nitrogen has a happy ending

As IT manager for the Craig Group, the global shipping and energy services company headquartered in Aberdeen, Bruce Catto has a pretty tough job. His six-strong team supports more than 500 people, using 30 apps on 80 servers and maintains complex communication networks on land and at sea, in harsh and demanding environments.

Earlier this year, at Scot-Tech’s annual Oil & Gas ICT conference, he was giving a talk about the technol- ogy that his company employs to prevent loss of crucial data, ensure business continuity and drastically improve efficiency of the its operations. To demonstrate its effectiveness he invited the audience to watch as a server was immersed in a vat of liquid nitrogen.

While that would normally have resulted in the loss of everything stored on the server, this time he was able to recover the data within six seconds thanks to a backup provided by Datto’s ‘total data protection platform’, implemented within Craig Group’s North Star Shipping by Aberdeen-based managed services provider ITWORX.

The North Star Shipping contract is in addition to ITWORX supplying another Craig Group division, Craig International, with a business continuity solution, for three geographically distinct locations. “This is our first project with ITWORX and it has gone seamlessly, thanks to their expertise,” said Catto. “They implemented a Datto business continuity solution that is not only easy to use but also cost effective, significantly reducing our IT department’s administration efforts.”

Historically, ships would back server data up to tape drives. But it was a system that needed technicians to oversee and use when a server failed, often involving ships returning to port with significant operational loss to the company. With Datto, backups are automatic and encrypted, providing a data store lasting 30 days and any losses can be restored without expert intervention. The whole process can be monitored from a globally-accessible portal.

ITWORX also deployed Meraki, Cisco’s cloud-based mobility management system, for North Star Shipping. It means that every mobile device on the 35 North Star ships can be monitored to reduce unproductive use of expensive bandwidth, or restrict the use of non-business apps to certain hours. Devices can also be maintained, updated and reconfigured remotely.

“The savings, efficiencies and improvements in productivity brought about by ITWORX’s introduction of Datto and Meraki into our operations have been significant,” said Catto.