Case Study: Prêt-a-Manger

Prêt-a-Manger Orders “Data to Go” with EVault

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The Prêt-a-Manger brand is familiar name on many UK streets. Its 125 UK stores offer coffee, other hot and cold drinks, and a range of fresh salads and sandwiches to customers wanting anything from breakfast, lunch or just a coffee break at almost any time of day.

As the company and its number of stores has grown, the amount of data has also increased, prompting the company to re-examine its data management and protection processes. Prêt currently has 25 Microsoft 2000 servers at its headquarters, which store and manage about 500GB of information. Each Prêt store has a dedicated point-to-point line connecting it to this central server site.

Prêt’s significant data growth created three primary IT objectives related to backup and recovery:

  • Nightly backup required improvement, as backup windows were being encroached by the growing data volumes
  • Non-sales data stored remotely at individual stores needed to be stored and backed-up centrally to prevent this data being lost
  • Implement disaster recovery processes by having backups electronically sent to a second co-location facility

Recognising that replication software is often expensive and bandwidth-intensive, Prêt’s IT staff, headed by Mike Hicks, wanted to explore other options.

The team was satisfied with how sales and ePOS data was being backed up. However, the human resource information, email and some sales data held at each Prêt outlet was of concern. As part of its disaster recovery initiative, Prêt wanted to make sure that this important information, which included staff rotas, contact information and local documents would be backed-up. With this data residing locally, an in-store hardware failure could result in data loss and significantly impacting a store’s ability to function effectively.

“It’s not unusual to experience these types of failures since hardware often gets given something of a rough ride in a retail environment,” Hicks explains. “We needed to ensure that local data was also backed up centrally so if remote hardware failure occurred, a store could quickly get back all the data important to the smooth running of the business.”

After evaluating other backup and recovery software including, Tivoli Storage Manager and Bakbone Software’s NetVault, Prêt selected EVault Software offered by TriSys, a value-added reseller, specialising in storage management.

“EVault Software works very well with our current infrastructure whereas the other solutions would require a LAN upgrade to work effectively, which was additional significant investment we felt wasn’t necessary at this time for Prêt’s IT requirements,” says Hicks.

Following a very smooth installation and training process, EVault Software delivered on the promise of centralising the backup of Prêt’s stores, as well as being able to easily backup to a second site to deliver disaster recovery without incurring additional complexity and cost.

Servers in New York and Hong Kong—where the company has 10 and six stores respectively—are also backed up to the London HQ via a VPN (virtual private network) using EVault Software so creating a single, global backup strategy.

Leverage, Optimize and Minimize the Process

“EVault Software enabled us to leverage our existing infrastructure to get data off-site quickly to the co-location site without an elaborate staging process. Online backup is much faster and we have been able to eliminate the time spent previously on tape management and minimise the administrative errors inherent in this process,” Hicks explains.

Each night EVault InfoStage streamlines processes by enabling backups from the Windows 2000 servers to storage arrays at Prêt’s headquarters and the co-location site simultaneously, so that both exactly reflect the other—critical in the event of restore being required. The automated nature of online backup means that management of backup and restore only takes a few mouseclicks. This was in stark contrast to Hicks’ previous experience of having to locate and mount tapes, then search for the data and hope the integrity of media was good enough to deliver the required data.


Hicks concludes, “InfoStage has significantly simplified our data management process. Backup of data from London, New York, Hong Kong and all our UK stores happens seamlessly to our London headquarters and our co-location facilities.”

With InfoStage in place, the next stage of the process—planned to roll out by the summer of 2005—will see Prêt installing EVault software agents to back up any locally stored, back-office information held on desktops or laptops.