Inside TVNZ's data management platform changeover

We have quite a different scope of dataLisa Arthur, TVNZ

“We don’t make a tangible product, we don’t make something physical. Our product is all based on digital assets which is data, so all of our products we deliver to consumers or viewers is a digital product,” says Lisa Arthur, infrastructure and systems manager at TVNZ.

“Without data, we can not deliver our products and services,” says Arthur,explaining the backdrop for TVNZ’s migration to a new data management platform.

We have quite a different scope of data."

As well, TVNZ data is located across a range of data centres and one of her team's jobs is to ensure the data they have is managed and backed up for a range of services, including online content, databases and email.

The business trusts the technology team to take care of this aspect, she says.

“As part of your data protection plan, you want your backups in there all the time. People just expect backups to work,” says Arthur, in an interview with CIO New Zealand.

“It is a fundamental aspect of protecting your data and making sure your data assets are well looked after,” she says. “We know our data usage is going to grow as we have more high definition files.”

She says backup growth was growing quite quickly and it got to a point where the solution TVNZ had in place was not fit for purpose anymore.

“We had to make a decision to stay with what we have got and keep on doing what we are doing, or look at something different,” she says on the business driver that prompted TVNZ's move on its data management system.

After reviewing a number of data management vendors, TVNZ chose Commvault, and the latter recommended VIFX to design and implement the system.

“VIFX facilitated workshops with the team to understand what our pain points currently were and what we wanted to see the products do and designed the solution around that."

The workshops lasted for a month and the resulting design considered the business requirements, as well as the people and processes involved, she says.

The new platform was built and implemented over three months, with VIFX and the TVNZ teams working together as part of the handover.

"Ultimately, what we didn't want was another system that was high in maintenance to manage.”

In the previous system, TVNZ was constantly running out of space, partly because the initial design did not consider the future growth, she states.

“When we put in Commvault, what we were really trying to consider is 'This is where we are now, but we think we will be here in the next few years' and to make sure the system was able to grow easily.’

“Whereas in the old system, we had to re-architecture to make it able to grow better.

“It was going to cost our organisation $900,000 to keep our current system and grow it to meet our needs over five years. Whereas Commvault will cost us $400,000 over five years.''

With the implementation, Arthur reports management costs have been reduced by $8000 a month, with TVNZ having more visibility into management and backups.

As well, data restoration times have been reduced from 12 hours to one hour, giving TVNZ confidence that it can backup and restore whatever it needs, quickly and efficiently, according to a VIFX case study on the deployment.

Arthur joined TVNZ in 2007, coming from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise where she was service delivery manager, and before that, Fisher Paykel Appliances where she was operations support team leader.

At TVNZ, she rose from service centre manager to her current role.

She is a key member of the technology leadership team and her responsibilities include operational management across all IT and broadcast systems and management of key supplier and service provider relationships and contracts, as well as IT security policies and processes.

As to what worked during the move to Commvault she says, “First of all, we recognised we were not experts in implementing backup solutions.”

“Right from the start, we wanted to leverage the expertise of an integrator who has done it before, to help us come to the right solution.”

Her advice to other organisations changing a data management system is to "know your limits".

“Know what you and your team are capable of and work with partners to help fill that gap.

“A really good indication of whether a partner is going to be able to do the right job, is to look at the statement of work they produce. How well does that read, because you know a lot of these things are interpreting the data.

“The integrator needs to listen to the issues you have and to be able to capture that, and align the statement of work and how they are going to fix your problems.”

“In today’s world, technology teams are always tasked to doing more with less and so when investing money and working with an integrator, you want to know you are going to get a good outcome,” she concludes.

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