Oaktree Capital Management invests in upgraded backup

Switching to Veritas NetBackup let Oaktree perform hourly backups instead of daily, greatly reducing risk of data loss during restores. Oaktree also uses Data Insight for audits.

For asset management firm Oaktree Capital Management, daily backups weren't enough protection.

The investment company's users demand better protection, prompting a switch from Veritas Backup Exec software to Veritas NetBackup. The two Veritas products are seen as serving different markets -- Backup Exec for SMBs and NetBackup for enterprises. But when Oaktree needed to move to hourly backups in 2011, it changed its Veritas applications and the server hardware that went with them.

Oaktree had used Veritas Backup Exec software on Hewlett Packard Enterprise ProLiant DL385 and DL585 servers to protect roughly 2 petabytes of data. Umang Bhavsar, senior vice president at Oaktree, said the system was performing nightly backups, but his users wanted more frequent backups.

"They tell me, 'The backup is useless' because they lose a day's worth of data after a restore, from their perspective," Bhavsar said.

Bhavsar made several changes in 2011, including adopting Cisco UCS blade servers and switching off of Veritas Backup Exec and onto Veritas NetBackup. Now Oaktree does hourly backups with Veritas' flagship data protection platform.

Headquartered in Los Angeles, Oaktree has 18 offices worldwide, including offices in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the U.K. and Germany. The company has roughly 1,000 employees.

Oaktree manages more than $120 billion of assets for its clients and specializes in alternative investment -- that is, investment in assets other than stocks, bonds or cash. It invests heavily in distressed debt, corporate debt and real estate, and owns shares in sports apparel retailer Quiksilver and mass media conglomerate Tribune Media.

Bhavsar said he was familiar with NetBackup from his previous work before joining Oaktree, but he looked at other vendors and weighed their pros and cons before making a purchase. He considered Commvault and EMC NetWorker before choosing NetBackup because he found during testing that he could recover faster and with smaller backup windows. Also, he realized it would be easier migrating data from Backup Exec to NetBackup than to one of Veritas' competitors' products.

Photo of Umang Bhavsar, senior vice president atOaktree Capital ManagementUmang Bhavsar

Bhavsar said he liked being able to confidently tell his users that any recovery point will be one hour old at most. More importantly, his recovery time was reduced to just five minutes, whereas restores would take four hours or an entire day under the old system.

"We have some super critical data, and we want to make sure the high availability is there," Bhavsar said.

Oaktree's main data center is in its Los Angeles headquarters, but there are colocations through provider Equinix in another site in Los Angeles and in Arizona through Sungard Availability Services, as well as the branch offices around the world. Oaktree has standardized on Veritas NetBackup appliances globally. Previously, each remote site had a Data Domain backup appliance. Bhavsar said switching to NetBackup appliances made his life easier because he only had to deal with one product for availability and data protection for any site.

Bhavsar said Oaktree has been adopting SaaS applications, taking as many workloads off premises as it can. For example, Oaktree uses Salesforce and Microsoft Office 365.

"We are in a hybrid kind of mode right now. We use the cloud where it makes sense and whatever doesn't make sense to put on the cloud, we are putting locally in our data center," Bhavsar said.

Bhavsar knew early on that data on SaaS applications weren't automatically protected by the SaaS providers, and he bought Datto Backupify to protect Office 365 and Salesforce. At the time he was shopping for SaaS application backup, he found few options. Veritas, as well as many of its competitors, has since released data protection products for those two applications, and Bhavsar said he'll consider switching over.

Bhavsar said he is reluctant to rely too heavily on the public cloud and he is comfortable with Oaktree's on-premises private cloud. He read of companies who had migrated to AWS or Microsoft Azure and had to return to on-premises infrastructure because they couldn't handle the recurring costs. On top of that, he wasn't comfortable with the idea of not having any negotiating power if the cloud provider raised its prices.

"How do you protect yourself from price increases? What is my leverage? That's why we are hybrid. This way, we're in control," Bhavsar said.

Veritas Data Insight has helped Oaktree remain compliant. Bhavsar said he uses the tool to get a global view of Oaktree's data and show its access and use history -- as well as to prove its existence. Before this, he would have to pull tapes out of every office to show the auditors that Oaktree still had records, some of which must be retained for 14 years.

"Because we're a financial company, we have a lot of auditors who very carefully look at our backups," Bhavsar said.

Bhavsar suggested a few improvements to Veritas' software. He said Data Insight's reporting function could be improved, and he wanted a way to determine the viability of a snapshot before attempting to restore from it. Knowing ahead of time if a backup is recoverable would give him peace of mind.

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