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Success stories – Cloud-based Solutions: Backup & Recovery on AWS

Backup & Recovery on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Success Story: Cloud-based Solutions

About Grupo Aguas Nuevas

The Aguas Nuevas Group provides sanitary services, contributing to improve the life quality of the customers, continuously improving the processes, with the participation of the collaborators and under the compliance of the standards of the Integrated Management System of Quality, Environment, and Occupational Health and Safety.

Voice of the customer

For the first line management at Aguas Nuevas it has been the best and most efficient model to deliver solutions to our clients, at the most convenient costs.

The attitude and quality of the staff from Morris & Opazo has allowed us to execute projects with high quality for the final product, development standards focused on the processes and problems of our organization. Custom solutions have been an answer to the processes where commercial solutions have not.

Fernando Javier Valdés Álvarez, Corporate Systems Submanager.

The problem

As “Aguas Nuevas” grows larger, the sizes of their Oracle databases continue to grow, and so does the sheer number of databases they maintain. This has caused growing pains related to backing up legacy Oracle databases to tape and led to the consideration of alternate strategies including the use of Cloud services of Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Some of the business challenges “Aguas Nuevas” faced included:

  • Utilization and capacity planning is complex, and time and capital expense budget are at a premium. Significant capital expenditures were required over the years for tape hardware, data center space for this hardware, and enterprise licensing fees for tape software. During that time, managing tape infrastructure required highly skilled staff to spend time with setup, certification and engineering archive planning instead of on higher value projects. And at the end of every fiscal year, projecting future capacity requirements required time consuming audits, forecasting, and budgeting.
  • The cost of backup software required to support multiple tape devices sneaks up on you. Tape robots provide basic read/write capability, but in order to fully utilize them, you must invest in proprietary tape backup software. For “Aguas Nuevas”, the cost of the software had been high, and added significantly to overall backup costs. The cost of this software was an ongoing budgeting pain point, but one that was difficult to address as long as backups needed to be written to tape devices.
  • Maintaining reliable backups and being fast and efficient when retrieving data requires a lot of time and effort with tape. When data needs to be durably stored on tape, multiple copies are required. When everything is working correctly, and there is minimal contention for tape resources, the tape robots and backup software can easily find the required data. However, if there is a hardware failure, human intervention is necessary to restore from tape. Contention for tape drives resulting from multiple users’ tape requests slows down restore processes even more. This adds to the recovery time objective (RTO) and makes achieving it more challenging compared to backing up to Cloud storage.

Proposed solution

“Aguas Nuevas” initiated the evaluation of Amazon S3 for economic and performance improvements related to data backup. As part of that evaluation, they considered security, availability, and performance aspects of Amazon S3 backups. “Aguas Nuevas” also executed a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that a migration to Amazon S3 would be financially worthwhile. That cost benefit analysis included the following elements:

  • Performance advantage and cost competitiveness. It was important that the overall costs of the backups did not increase. At the same time, “Aguas Nuevas” required faster backup and recovery performance. The time and effort required for backup and for recovery operations proved to be a significant improvement over tape, with restoring from Amazon S3 running from two to twelve times faster than a similar restore from tape. “Aguas Nuevas” required any new backup medium to provide improved performance while maintaining or reducing overall costs. Backing up to on-premises disk based storage would have improved performance, but missed on cost competitiveness. Amazon S3 Cloud based storage met both criteria.
  • Greater durability and availability. Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability and 99.99% availability of objects over a given year. “Aguas Nuevas” compared these figures with those observed from their tape infrastructure, and determined that Amazon S3 offered significant improvement.
    Less operational friction. “Aguas Nuevas” DBAs had to evaluate whether Amazon S3 backups would be viable for their database backups. They determined that using Amazon S3 for backups was easy to implement because it worked seamlessly with Oracle RMAN.
  • Strong data security. “Aguas Nuevas” found that AWS met all of their requirements for physical security, security accreditations, and security processes, protecting data in flight, data at rest, and utilizing suitable encryption standards.

The benefits

Reduced Hardware Investment

The online, distributed data storage design of the AWS Cloud eliminates the bottlenecks and constraints of on-premises disk and tape solutions. Instant replication ensures your data is safe by automatically generating three copies of your data to different AWS Regions.

Faster Data Recovery

Amazon S3 gives you control over the region in which your data resides, to minimize network latency for easier and faster data recovery. Online storage provides faster recovery than that of tape, with millisecond latency.

Lower Operational Costs

Use a solution you know and trust, now with AWS as the storage target. Pay-as-you-go pricing ensures you only pay for the resources you consume, eliminating the need to overprovision for peak demand. Lifecycle policies automate the migration of data between storage tiers to remove manual overhead, minimize management complexity, and further reduce costs.

Technology Stack

AWS Storage Gateway

Seamlessly enables hybrid cloud storage with local integration. It combines multi-protocol storage appliance with highly efficient network connectivity to deliver virtually unlimited scalability.

Amazon Simple Storage Service
(Amazon S3)

Objects storage designed to store and access any type of data from anywhere on the web. It is designed to deliver 99.999999999% durability and scale past trillions of objects worldwide.

Amazon Glacier

Secure, highly durable, and low-cost storage service designed for data archiving and long-term backup.


With the migration to Amazon S3 well along the way to completion, “Aguas Nuevas” has realized several benefits, including:

  • Elimination of complex and time-consuming tape capacity planning. “Aguas Nuevas” is growing larger and more dynamic each year, both organically and as a result of acquisitions. AWS has enabled “Aguas Nuevas” to keep pace with this rapid expansion, and to do so seamlessly. Historically, “Aguas Nuevas” business groups have had to write annual backup plans, quantifying the amount of tape storage that they plan to use for the year and the frequency with which they will use the tape resources. These plans are then used to charge each organization for their tape usage, spreading the cost among many teams. With Amazon S3, teams simply pay for what they use, and are billed for their usage as they go. There are virtually no upper limits as to how much data can be stored in Amazon S3, and so there are no worries about running out of resources. For teams adopting Amazon S3 backups, the need for formal planning has been all but eliminated.
  • Reduced capital expenditures. “Aguas Nuevas” no longer needs to acquire tape robots, tape drives, tape inventory, data center space, networking gear, enterprise backup software, or predict future tape consumption. This eliminates the burden of budgeting for capital equipment well in advance as well as the capital expense.
  • Immediate availability of data for restoring – no need to locate or retrieve physical tapes. Whenever a DBA needs to restore data from tape, they face delays. The tape backup software needs to read the tape catalog to find the correct files to restore, locate the correct tape, mount the tape, and read the data from it. In almost all cases the data is spread across multiple tapes, resulting in further delays. This, combined with contention for tape drives resulting from multiple users’ tape requests, slows the process down even more. This is especially severe during critical events such as a data center outage, when many databases must be restored simultaneously and as soon as possible. None of these problems occur with Amazon S3. Data restores can begin immediately, with no waiting or tape queuing – and that means the database can be recovered much faster.
  • Backing up a database to Amazon S3 can be two to twelve times faster than with tape drives. As one example, in a benchmark test a DBA was able to restore 3.8 terabytes in 2.5 hours over gigabit Ethernet. This amounts to 25 gigabytes per minute, or 422MB per second. In addition, since “Aguas Nuevas” uses RMAN data compression, the effective restore rate was 3.37 gigabytes per second. This 2.5 hours compares to, conservatively, 10-15 hours that would be required to restore from tape.
  • Easy implementation of Oracle RMAN backups to Amazon S3. The DBAs found it easy to start backing up their databases to Amazon S3. Directing Oracle RMAN backups to Amazon S3 requires only a configuration of the Oracle Secure Backup Cloud (SBC) module. The effort required to configure the Oracle SBC module amounted to an hour or less per database. After this one-time setup, the database backups were transparently redirected to Amazon S3.
  • Durable data storage provided by Amazon S3, which is designed for 11 nines durability. On occasion, “Aguas Nuevas” has experienced hardware failures with tape infrastructure – tapes that break, tape drives that fail, and robotic components that fail. Sometimes this happens when a DBA is trying to restore a database, and dramatically increases the mean time to recover (MTTR). With the durability and availability of Amazon S3, these issues are no longer a concern.
  • Freeing up valuable human resources. With tape infrastructure, “Aguas Nuevas” had to seek out engineers who were experienced with very large tape backup installations – a specialized, vendor-specific skill set that is difficult to find. They also needed to hire data center technicians and dedicate them to problem-solving and troubleshooting hardware issues – replacing drives, shuffling tapes around, shipping and tracking tapes, and so on. Amazon S3 allowed them to free up these specialists from day-to-day operations so that they can work on more valuable, business-critical engineering tasks.
  • Elimination of physical tape transport to off-site location. Any company that has been storing Oracle backup data offsite should take a hard look at the costs involved in transporting, securing and storing their tapes offsite – these costs can be reduced or possibly eliminated by storing the data in Amazon S3.

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