NAKIVO Delivers Storage Space Savings of 75% for The Oxford Partnership

The Oxford Partnership (TOP), a partnership of three colleges in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is using NAKIVO Backup & Replication to instantly recover VMware VMs and save storage space by 75% with global data deduplication.

Business Challenge

The Oxford Partnership (TOP) brings together three exceptional education and training providers in Activate Learning Oxford, GEMS Education Solutions, and Moulton College. In addition, this powerful partnership has established four women’s colleges in the North of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – namely, Al Jouf Sakaka, Arar and Al Qurayyat, and Al-Madinah. Each college has over 2,000 full time students. The partnership sets high standards that are aimed to help students succeed, right from the start of applying to one of the colleges and to the last day of the program.

The IT infrastructure at The Oxford Partnership (TOP) is comprised of four sites that are located across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and each site has a local IT provision for both students and teachers. “Each site has a VMware vSphere cluster with two to three ESXi hosts and an iSCSI SAN. Each site is connected using MPLS to allow collaboration and sharing of data,” says Rizwan Majeed, Head of IT Infrastructure at The Oxford Partnership.

Each site at TOP follows a standard configuration model, providing the following services to the local users: directory services, file services, print services, as well as System Center Configuration Manager for machine configuration and package deployment. “In addition to all the regular services, we also have a Microsoft SQL solution that is used for student’s records and attendance tracking,” says Rizwan.

There is a great need to ensure 24/7 data availability across all four sites, in order to support teaching and learning, that is why TOP takes data protection matters seriously. “VM backup and recovery are extremely important to our organization because thousands of students rely on our IT infrastructure for learning and safe keeping of data and files. We experience challenging conditions, especially in the remote territories, where power is less stable, so having a stable VM backup and recovery solution is of the utmost importance,” says Rizwan.

The previous method of data protection at TOP was basically non-existent. “Previously, our students just relied on USB drives to store their data, and it was only a matter of time before a catastrophic loss would have happened. Our strategic IT partner, Cutter Group, has encouraged us to virtualize our infrastructure within each college, to allow students and staff to roam between locations if necessary. A key requirement was to ensure that a robust VM backup solution was in place. In our search for a backup solution, it was crucial that we could leverage capabilities of the VMware infrastructure for the image-based backups, while allowing for instant VM and file recovery, and system wide deduplication,” says Rizwan.


Cutter Group, TOP’s strategic IT partner, recommended NAKIVO Backup & Replication as a possible VM backup solution to TOP, because of the product’s perfect combination of features and price point. “NAKIVO Backup & Replication installed as a pre-configured virtual appliance is an excellent deployment method for our smaller sites, allowing for consistent and high performance deployments. This method of deployment is a huge time saver because we simply import and configure NAKIVO Backup & Replication within a few hours of hitting the ground. In addition, not having to install a console or an application to integrate with the product, allows multiple administrators to have a view of the system,” says Rizwan.

"In terms of VM backup, our backup jobs finish within a few hours each evening and we have scheduled screenshot verification and space reclaim during the weekends. Each college has its own backup schedule that allows for parallel processing in a scale out model. We save a significant amount of time in managing and controlling backup jobs, as each new VM deployed within the VMware infrastructure is already incorporated into NAKIVO Backup & Replication,” says Rizwan.

With the help of the global data deduplication feature, TOP saw significant storage space savings. “We particularly like the global data deduplication feature, which allows us to make huge disk space savings. We are seeing storage space reduction of 75% within each NAKIVO Backup & Replication deployment. This is excellent as it allows us to increase the number of our retention points without sacrificing much more space,” says Rizwan.

TOP has also been able to improve VM recovery. “We have extensively tested the Instant VM recovery feature. Waiting for full VM restores across a LAN is still an extremely slow process, when users are demanding access to the systems. In our tests, Instant VM recovery was able to reduce this window and deliver the restored services to users much faster. We have been fortunate to not need to recover the entire VMs in the production and only used this feature for disaster recovery testing and we are able to see impressive performance from NAKIVO Backup & Replication,” says Rizwan.

"In terms of future projects, we are looking forward to take advantage of the backup copy feature. We are currently working on utilizing this feature to take edge site data back to the main site for further protection and improved recoverability. With backup copy, we will be able to store backup copies onsite or offsite, as well as have a separate schedule and recovery point retention policy,” says Rizwan.


NAKIVO Backup & Replication allows TOP to instantly recover full VMs and save approximately 75% on storage space with global data deduplication. “NAKIVO Backup & Replication provides a simple, yet powerful VM backup solution that is fully equipped to solve various backup and recovery challenges. Convincing users to store their data in a centralized way was a cultural shift to what they were used to with a previous data protection method. Once convinced, we observed a huge increase on data demands and NAKIVO Backup & Replication easily scaled to meet this requirement. With NAKIVO Backup & Replication, time and convenience benefits are significant. We can now confidently restore and support our users with their ever increasing data demands,” says Rizwan.

Company Profile

The Oxford Partnership (TOP) is comprised of three organizations that are recognized internationally for excellence. The Oxford Partnership brings together Activate Learning, GEMS Education Solutions, and Moulton College. The partnership is passionate about education and the power of learning, and combines expertise in learning approaches with international education experience and excellence in industry-specific vocational routes. Activate Learning is judged to be good with outstanding areas by Ofsted (Jan 14). GEMS Education Solutions’ already manages education institutions in the UK and has increased trainee attendance and outcomes. Moulton College is rated as outstanding by Ofsted and supports over 7,000 trainees a year. High quality teaching, learning, and assessment are at the heart of The Oxford Partnership. Attracting the best and most talented staff is crucial to success in providing excellent teaching, learning, and assessment for all our students. For more information, please visit

About Cutter Group

Established in 2005, Cutter Group is one of the world’s leading suppliers of virtualized computing solutions. Cutter’s objective is to deliver cutting edge expertise in providing sustainable and cost-effective solutions and services. Headquartered in the UK, with subsidiaries in the Netherlands and Cyprus, the Group’s reach is far and wide. Cutter Group has a wide-ranging experience across multiple sectors, including education, local and national government, financial services, and many others. The Group has a strong reputation and a proven track record in delivery with engagement in 17 countries worldwide and an extensive and diverse range of virtualized solutions under management. Cutter Group has established its reputation as a market leader in the design, deployment, and support of virtualized solutions in both the desktop and data center environments. For more information, please visit