Falkirk Council boosts data protection and improves cybersecurity with Veeam

“Veeam is a winner — it accelerated our Digital Transformation, played a pivotal role in our data center migration and elevated our cybersecurity operation. We couldn’t have accomplished what we accomplished without Veeam.”

When I first joined the council in 2019, I had no idea my teammates and I would achieve what we’ve achieved regarding Digital Transformation and data protection. Highlights include implementing a hybrid cloud IT infrastructure that aligns with the Scottish government’s cloud-first initiative, building a new data center and standardizing backup and recovery.

At one point, we had several backup solutions in play. Today, we use a single solution to back up everything on premise and in the cloud. That one solution delivers simplicity, scalability, immutability, affordability, hardware and storage neutrality and license portability.

Challenging times call for data protection

Before I continue, I’ll explain what we do at Falkirk Council. We provide local government services to more than 160,000 residents living in the central lowlands of Scotland — an area covering 112 square miles. The council also owns and manages approximately 25% of the region’s housing and administers primary and secondary education for more than 30,000 students. To ensure residents’ needs are always met, we undertook a Digital Transformation and modern workspace project. The challenge was protecting data across a new hybrid cloud IT infrastructure. Without secure, reliable backup and recovery, council services could be at risk.

We ended up totally transforming data protection and elevating our cybersecurity operation. This was critical for two reasons. First, hackers grow more and more sophisticated by the day, and second, ransomware impacts local governments more than typical businesses.

According to a survey of IT professionals in mid-sized organizations across 31 countries, the number of local governments hit by ransomware increased by 70% between 2020 and 2021. Local governments also reported one of the highest rates of data encryption (72%) following an attack. Everyone surveyed said backup was their number one method for restoring data following a ransomware attack. As the Cybersecurity Team Leader for Falkirk Council, I couldn’t agree more.

Ransomware resilience with immutable backups

We all know that backups are the last line of defense in a ransomware attack. My advice is simple — make them immutable. That’s why Veeam and cloud object lock storage are important for us. Once a backup lands in the cloud, it remains there until the lock expires. Object lock also supports our compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Here’s how it works: Veeam Backup & Replication backs up roughly 70 TB of data across 200 virtual machines (Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV) and 400 physical machines to Nutanix Mine Storage. Then Veeam tiers backups to cloud object storage for immutability. We also use Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 to back up approximately 225 TB of cloud storage too.

Our Veeam journey

Our Veeam journey began shortly after we deployed Microsoft 365 — one of the first steps in our Digital Transformation. We didn’t have a way to protect 365 data, and Microsoft’s data retention policies didn’t meet our business needs. Our goal was cost-effective, easy-to-manage backup and recovery to protect all data, including historical data, so we deployed Veeam, and it paid off. One week after deployment, council employees needed access to historical emails. Veeam had backed them up, so we were able to restore them quickly. If employees had made that same request two weeks earlier, we wouldn’t have had access to those emails and our services might have been impacted.

The next step of our Digital Transformation was a P2V project. Veeam was already protecting 365 data, and since our goal was to standardize data protection, the obvious choice was Veeam Backup & Replication for our on-prem servers. As it turned out, Veeam actually enabled our P2V project by backing up our physical machines and replicating them to virtual machines in the new data center. That saved a lot of headaches. Imagine unplugging servers, loading them on a lorry and driving them to a new data center while trying to avoid potholes.

Embracing Digital Transformation with Veeam

I remember when IT professionals had to load servers on a lorry to move them. That’s when most of us relied on tape for recovery too. Over time, I’ve adopted this approach: Anything that is constant will change, so stay open-minded, especially if you’re in a cybersecurity role. You must evaluate all solutions before making any decisions, which is what we did during our Digital Transformation. For us, Veeam was the winner. There’s no restriction on how much data we back up (some vendors charge for different types of backup), and it doesn’t matter where we back up. The Veeam Universal License is simple — we can back up anything to anywhere.

Click here for more information about how Falkirk Council uses Veeam. To see Veeam in action for yourself, you can register to see a product demo, here.

About Falkirk Council

The Falkirk Council provides local government services for 160,000 residents living in the central lowlands of Scotland. Established in 1996 and based in Larbert, Falkirk Council employs 8,000 people, including 3,000 educators and administrators.

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