Veeam: It Just Works! 

While almost everything is ever-changing in IT, the need for reliable backups has been a constant throughout my entire career. When I started working in IT way back in 1985, data, data storage, and data backups were already central for many businesses. I remember vividly working with tapes back then. And today at FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, we’re still storing backups on tapes for maximum data protection. From memory, the slogan of the tape drive manufacturer Cipher in the 80s was “Backups belongs to Tape!” — which, at least, is something from the early days of IT that is still applicable today. In some ways, nothing has changed, and yet everything has!

The backup software and tape technology we use today has come a long way. Data volumes and IT environments have become much larger and far more complex over time. Let’s look back at history, and then forwards to tomorrow.

How It All Started

I joined a multinational IT company as a Technical Consultant, specializing in storage and backup solutions. Quickly, I found myself working on customer projects, being responsible for designing and implementing storage systems in combination with backup and recovery.

What fascinated me about backup solutions was that it was more exciting and dynamic than many realized. To be able to rely on a backup solution, it needs to support a wide range of applications and systems. With new business applications and databases constantly emerging, backup solutions must adapt rapidly to remain relevant.

The Age of Virtualization and Hybrid Cloud

As more and more servers were virtualized, I noticed that our existing backup tools and processes suddenly felt clunky and inefficient. Restoring virtualized systems was often unreliable, and things didn’t work smoothly.

That’s when a colleague of mine told me about Veeam. We installed a free trial version ourselves in our data center and were blown away by the simplicity. Veeam felt like a game changer that was engineered and optimized from the start for virtual environments, with very sensible default settings. Suddenly, virtual servers were first-class citizens in our backup processes. It was great to be able to start small and then seamlessly grow and expand our backup solution in line with our general IT environment.

I remember when the Veeam motto was “It Just Works,” and that was exactly how I experienced it. With Veeam, backups were very easy to create and restore, with an intuitive user interface that provided enterprise-grade reliability and performance combined with the ease of use of consumer apps. Thanks to Veeam’s close collaboration with VMware and the deep integration with VMware technologies, Veeam was always quick to support the latest features. Other backup solutions were — and still are — lagging behind, but Veeam continues to adapt and innovate by integrating new capabilities such as hybrid cloud backup and restore options.

As it stands, Veeam as an organization is also more approachable than many other vendors. When I talk to my Veeam contacts, it’s like talking to friends. And I can just call a technical contact here in Switzerland if I have a question — no need to first open a ticket or go through some anonymous support line.

Our Path to Radical Resilience with Veeam

At FHNW, we now use Veeam to protect 600TB of data for 30,000 accounts. It helps us to provide 100 percent data availability to our students, researchers, and faculty.

We can now easily manage and automate backups for our 1,300 virtual machines centrally. Our servers are spread across about 50 so-called stores in VMware. When we create a new store, we set up the backup policy, and then every new virtual server created on that store is automatically backed up. Automating backup processes with Veeam has boosted our efficiency by 90%.

Of course, other backup solutions have great features too. But in my experience, competitors are usually overly complicated to use and configure. Often, there are just too many options, and it is too easy to make painful mistakes that might cause real issues with the backup processes. For example, to manage another backup solution from a different vendor, I always work with a partner when I need to make any changes. This slows us down and costs us money. With Veeam, I just make all the configuration changes myself, which is faster and more cost-effective.

Recently, we upgraded our data storage and connected Veeam with just a few clicks to our brand new HPE GreenLake for Block Storage, powered by HPE Alletra Storage MP solution.

Planning Our Next Steps

To harden our security and add another layer to protect our data against ransomware, we’re planning to implement Veeam immutable backups in the future.

The interoperability of Veeam gives us more flexibility to optimize our IT operations further. For example, we’re planning to explore a migration to Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization at some point and to evaluate the consolidation of all our backup jobs in all environments to Veeam.

I always find it rewarding when I am in a position where I can make a real difference. For example, when users come to me because they accidentally deleted some important files, they are often very, very distressed! I love that Veeam recovery lets me retrieve the data instantly and make users happy. Yes, software has changed, and hugely for the better — but in backup and recovery, some things never change!

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