March 20, 2023

DATAFORT helps Cement Giant PC Harrington Build High Data Availability Strategy

UK Construction Industry Heavyweight Finds Backup, Recovery and Virtual Server Building Blocks in Hi-5 Managed Service

Release date: 19 September 2010

DataFort, the innovative developer of business continuity delivered as a managed service, today announced that reinforced concrete specialists PC Harrington Group of Companies is now relying on its flagship high-availability service Hi-5 to ensure the uninterrupted operation of its email servers and to protect 650 GB of mission-critical data.

Founded in 1968 and having grown consistently for the past 42 years the PC Harrington Group is active across the UK as a specialist in all areas of in situ reinforced concrete construction from concrete frames to bridges and complex architectural features. Today it employs 1,200 people and has a turnover of approximately £250 million. Its IT operations are managed internally, with the various systems representing the lifeblood of communications between the different businesses within the group.

The team decided to look critically at its business continuity and disaster recovery strategy for a number of reasons:

  • it was under great pressure from ever-increasing compliance archival requirements (every detail of every project undertaken must be retained for a minimum of seven years should documentation be required after building completion.)
  • any loss of mission-critical data would have a dramatic impact on the business operations, and the company has a very strong commitment to

  • customer service and this relies on uninterrupted data availability.

PC Harrington first reached out to DataFort back in 2007 to protect and manage its data, initially partnering with the service provider to complement its internal IT staff so that the internal team could concentrate on project development and management of critical systems.

David Meyers, PC Harrington’s IT specialist said ‘Our primary Exchange Server held 650GB of data and was getting so large that I was growing concerned about the amount of time it would take to recover from a major failure using standard backup technology.’ After talking to DataFort Meyers’ team agreed that in order to maintain business continuity , an RTO (Recovery Time Objective) of less than two hours was necessary even though the cost of system replication was prohibitive. This is when Hi-5 was selected as the most effective solution, providing not only individual email restore but also mailbox restore and the recovery of the full Exchange Server in less than 60 minutes.

‘PC Harrington had a very demanding list of criteria Hi-5 needed to fulfil and I am proud to say that we passed with flying colours,’ said Marcie Terman, business development director at DataFort. ‘The Hi-5 service improves on full system replication by providing a range of different recovery options that cover file and folder recovery, recovery from the failure of a critical server, disaster recovery, or in the case of Exchange Server, email or mailbox recovery. And of course this is all done while complying with relevant government legislation.’

A Hi-5 appliance is maintained at the PC Harrington London datacentre where it pulls in block-level changes from the protected servers at 15-minute intervals. This data is then secured both to the local Hi-5 appliance and distributed to a pair of mirrored RAID servers maintained in geographically diverse Tier 3 data centres.

Simultaneously, backup information is sent to monitoring systems at the DataFort Network Operation Centre (NOC) and to a web-based system that can be accessed by the PCH administrator. The DataFort NOC is alerted if two adjacent backups are missed, but the demand for an invocation of a failed server onto the Hi-5 appliance is made by designated PC Harrington staff.

  • System image recovery for application onto new and potentially dissimilar hardware
  • virtual recovery of a failed server onto the Hi-5 appliance typically in under 60 minutes recovery of an image to an earlier point in time (mirroring a tape archive recovery strategy) and
  • delivery of a new appliance hosting the protected servers running in a virtual environment within 24 hours of a reported disruptive event in the PC Harrington office.

‘It was very easy to see how to employ Hi-5’s archive recovery functionality as part of our business continuity planning,’ continued Meyers. ‘And the way it accesses archived data is very similar to the way we would use a tape system to access that information. For instance, should I need to recover a mailbox deleted in October of last year, I would contact DataFort to order the recovery of the email system to its position in September of last year and simply copy the mailbox data to an external disk. However, it thankfully has none of the short comings of tape, like needing me to manage the backups and tape stock, proper librarying and data verification.

DataFort provides ongoing tests of the service throughout the year in addition to the annual tests we require for our own business continuity procedures.’

Over the past few months DataFort has been in consultation with Meyers and other members of the PC Harrington senior management to review the company’s business continuity strategy, to identify any areas of risk across the network and to advise on an upgrade path where necessary. Martin Mc Dermott, Operations Director, at PCH, says ‘DataFort has put us streets ahead of our competitors in terms of being able to provide uninterrupted service to our customers. And while the legal benefits Hi-5 provides are an additional bonus, my key concern is always providing our clients with the best possible service; Hi-5 gave us a significant boost without a doubt.’


DataFort provides dependable and secure data protection services that offer enterprise-level functionality with a focus on security and reliability. Its software and services are used by thousands of organisations worldwide, ranging from SMBs through to large enterprises and local government departments. Every hour of every day someone, somewhere backs up with DataFort. The company was founded in 2000, is headquartered in Guildford, UK and has offices in London and New York. For further information please visit or dial 0800 45 44 35.

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