What does it cost your business if you can’t make sales?

We were amazed how simple, fast and secure it is. We saved €3 million in Capex and €60k in Opex.”

Vincent Nolan, CIO, Smyths Group, Galway

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Overview.

Smyths Toys, based in Galway, is a leading provider of children’s entertainment products with 68 stores throughout the UK and Ireland and sales of €250 million. The company’s goal is to provide consumers with high quality products at competitive prices. Recently, Smyths implemented a new ERP application on VMware and this runs their entire sales and operations.

Business Continuity Problem

“If our stores can’t sell, we’re losing customers and profits” says Smyths Group CIO, Vincent Nolan. “We had been working with a major vendor that was not meeting our needs for business continuity. So, this was a major risk for us because any downtime could affect sales and this was not an option for the Board. And we don’t have any expertise on planning DR Strategy nor on operating complex recovery processes.”

“Initially, we were very sceptical that a small Irish company could solve our problem where other, major vendors had failed to deliver. We had big concerns about their data security and about their performance capability. On paper, vCloud.ie showed us the solution and the savings. Then they made it real. And the difference is like night and day.”

Client Profile:

  • Smyths Group is a major retailer
  • 68 stores in Ireland and UK
  • €250 million annual sales
  • ERP applications running on 45 virtualised servers with 12 TB data

Client Key Reqirements:

  • Ability to test and validate disaster recovery anytime
  • Minimal impact on ERP production system
  • Simple installation, management and execution
  • Aggressive service level agreements
  • No configuration changes to environment


  • Disaster Recovery time is less than 10 minutes
  • No impact on mission critical applications
  • Simple installation and centralised management
  • ‘Single-click’ failover and fail back declaration
  • Simple to test anytime – no special resources
  • Installs seamlessly into existing infrastructure

Impact of the Business Continuity Problem

The biggest challenge for any fast-growing retail and online business is to simplify their processes and policies to ensure that robust services are available on a 24/7 basis. To achieve this, Smyths Toys deployed a new mission critical, multi-tiered ERP system that supports hundreds of end-users. Their ERP applica- tions run on 45 virtualised servers with 12 TB data. For Smyths, any system downtime incurs significant costs per hour especially during their very busy seasons.

Vincent Nolan, the CIO, was on a mission to implement Business Continuity in the event of a major disruption, even to the extent of “Total Head Office Wipe Out”. This level of disaster is not something he ever envisaged before – a complete and permanent loss of the head office. That includes all the expertise in house, the IT Infrastructure and all their Data. The 2012 floods in the UK and Ireland, as well as major IT failures in a major Irish bank, convinced Smyths Board that these threats are real and could affect any business.

Vincent had previously been arranging for their Backups to be stored offsite. When the recovery process was fully considered, they soon realised that there was nowhere to restore their offsite backups in the event of a disaster. This is when the scale of the requirement for DR is very different to just having backups. ‘Our previous vendor needed us to invest millions in new hardware so that we could create a replica site. But that still didn’t solve our problem because we couldn’t easily test it.’

So, Smyths engaged consultants from vCloud.ie to assist them in evaluating their options and costs. They needed to support heterogeneous storage in both primary and secondary sites, combined with a requirement for zero impact on the performance of their ERP system.

vCloud.ie, experts in cloud computing solutions, offered Smyths three possible options:

  1. Build a replica infrastructure offsite somewhere, ship the Backups there daily and restore them – Recovery Target Objective (‘RTO’) 24~48 Hours.
  2. Build a replica infrastructure offsite, create a High Bandwidth Connection and replicate data Real Time – RTO 2~4 Hour.
  3. Use a hybrid solution – hosted Infrastructure from vCloud.ie with VM Virtual Replication, giving an RTO less than 10 Minutes.

Smyths finally selected Disaster Recovery-as-a- Service (DRaaS), built by vCloud.ie with Zerto® Virtual Replication software. By implementing the vCloud.ie DRaaS, Smyths significantly reduced the costs of managing their risk problem – without any Capex expenditure. This is a Pay-As-You-Go model. They also reduced their annual communications cost and achieved SLA recovery time of minutes (RTO).

“We saved €3 million in Capex and €60k in annual Opex.”

Why use Virtual Replication?

vCloud.ie use a software-only solution developed by Zerto. This is a Virtual Replication system that was installed seamlessly into Smyths existing infrastruc- ture with no configuration changes and no impact on the production environment. It is capable of operating on relatively low networking bandwidth which reduced the telecom costs by over 30%. Also, Zerto’s hypervisor-based replication is hardware agnostic and is not concerned with Smyths’ underlying equipment.

With vCloud.ie, Smyths Group was able to:

  • Deliver enterprise-class DR replication with no impact on end-users or production applications
  • Achieve aggressive service levels with a recovery point objective of minutes – not days or hours
  • Eliminate Capex requirements and reduce operating costs for running the replication service

Result: Simple Cost-effective BC/DR and More

Smyths Group solved their risk exposure problem and saved money on their IT operations. Smyths has peace of mind knowing their business runs 24×7 even when a disaster happens.

Nolan summarised “vCloud.ie gave us a custom solu- tion, fit for purpose and not over-specified or over-complicated. If a disaster situation occurs, all it takes is a single-click to failover – there’s no panic. And when the problem is solved we hit a single-click switch to failback. And we can see everything being controlled and managed in a simple browser.

Best of all, we only pay for what we use. Our DR Solution does what it says on the tin for a fraction of the cost and time of doing it internally.”