Case Study: PFD Food Services

PFD drives assurance of durability and savings with a modernised data management strategy.

Food distribution is a fast and often unforgiving business; there is a narrow window to match supply and demand for the customer, while the market is fiercely competitive. Richard Cohen, Chief Information Officer of PFD, understands all too well that for a fast-growing business in this sector, it is essential that information systems are effective in supporting the organisation’s strategic data assets. His goal has been to establish a reliable, resilient and risk-free environment, harnessing state-of-the-art technology to drive out costs and ensure that PFD’s data assets are properly protected. Key to that is an effective and efficient approach to data management, supportive of business continuity.


Ensure Business Continuity and Reduce Risk

About five years ago the company migrated from HP Data Protector to Commvault’s integrated platform in order to support faster and more effective data management. As the company evolved, PFD looked to their trusted advisors at Venn IT Solutions to find even more ways to strip out cost and risk while increasing productivity and availability of data. While tape is believed to be a traditionally cheaper storage medium for backup and archiving, it faces some quality and speed issues, as well as management costs which can quickly add up. PFD was incurring close to $30,000 each year in tape rotation and offsite services, tape media and tape library maintenance fees. To improve quality and efficiencies, Cohen looked to Venn IT to help with phase two in removing workload stress and optimising backup windows for production data. 

After considering the efficiency and cost implications of tape offsite and cloud-based backup, Venn IT and Cohen decided to remove the use of tape completely.



  • With a national footprint and round-the-clock operations, PFD needed to ensure the protection and high availability of its data assets.
  • The company wanted to modernise its information infrastructure and ensure business continuity without injecting additional costs.
  • The competitive nature of the food distribution business meant that PFD needed a cost-effective data management strategy that could respond nimbly to changing business conditions.



The real-time integrity and accessibility of PFD’s data assets are critical to the business as it grows and responds to market demand. The company performed a proof of concept of its cloud plans by initially running backups to tape in parallel with backups to Amazon S3. PFD deployed Commvault’s Exchange and SQL agents and uses the system to handle file and virtual server backups, along with all replication recovery services. The first step in this phase was to change the destination from Tape Backup to Amazon S3 Cloud-based backup. Commvault now handles snapshots every hour of incremental data from the company’s ERP, MFG Pro, to the NetApp arrays in the secondary data centre, which are then replicated to the S3 cloud. Increased operational efficiencies have been achieved by shutting down the backup environment supporting infrastructure when not in use. By deploying Commvault Global Deduplication extended to the cloud environment, PFD has maximised storage efficiencies, resulting in a compressed 18 Terabytes of PFD’s data in S3.

“The team at Venn IT enabled a programmatic approach to modernising our data management strategy, and Commvault was critical through this process of transitioning data across tape, disk and now cloud,” said Cohen. “The functionality and technical maturity of Commvault gave us the assurance to seamlessly embrace Amazon’s S3 cloud storage – Again helping us reduce costs and risk further, and streamline our data management.”



Moving away from tape and leveraging Amazon S3 has also saved PFD 34 per cent in yearly costs just by eliminating tape management. The company has removed inefficiencies due to media handling, storage and manual intervention.

“We have confidence in Commvault and Amazon cloud that in the event of a catastrophic failure in our primary data centre, the data stored in our DR data centre and the cloud can be up and running within an hour,” said Cohen. “There are no longer any media costs, no recall costs and the process of recovering the data is easier, plus Amazon guarantees elevens 9s of durability.”

Cohen has been pleased with the staged approach led by Venn IT to reform PFD’s data management strategy. With help from their trusted advisors at the consultancy, Cohen is now exploring further ways to drive efficiencies and cost reduction. Amazon’s Glacier Cloud Storage will be used for archiving older backup data that has been untouched for 12 months. Cohen says he is confident that the Commvault platform, which manages the company’s end-to-end data management processes today, will equally face the challenge of seamlessly supporting PFD’s future requirements providing a risk-free framework for growth.


Other benefits:

  • A trusted partnership with Venn IT Solutions has delivered a “Belt and braces” approach and reduced risk, improved timely access to data and enhanced business continuity.
  • Process automation combined with strong integration with industry-leading hardware and storage solutions enables flexibility, durability and business continuity for the business.

To read more about the technical solution put in place by the team at Venn to support PFD Food Services, head over to our Projects.

To have a chat with our team about how we can help your organisation, get in touch.