Founded in 1958 by two brothers, the Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group is one of the most respected family-owned conglomerates in the UAE. The management of the Group’s companies is undertaken by Al Naboodah Group Enterprises (ANGE). Employing over 16,000 people and over 47 nationalities, ANGE’s focus covers civil engineering, building, MEP and facilities management, as well as representing a diverse portfolio of global brands in the transportation, travel, electrical, solar, renewable energy, logistics and fit-out arenas.
ANGE was aiming to completely virtualize its IT environment to meet sustainability goals set by the management, increase utilization of existing IT investment and reduce capital expense. The Group’s management strongly believes in utilizing technology to deliver a competitive edge and ANGE invests heavily on systems such as ERP, CRM, SharePoint, email, Data Analytics and web servers, as well as many specialized construction and commercial applications, to conduct business. The IT team needed the always-on availability for these applications, even in the highly virtual environment.
The role of IT is considered crucial by Al Naboodah Group Enterprises’ (ANGE) top leadership. The company has applications that have to be always available to enable collaboration between the 16,000-strong workforce that operate out of 100+ construction sites and offices across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. ANGE also runs close to 20 specialized construction and commercial applications including AutoCAD, a computer-aided design and drafting application that is used daily by the company’s architects, project managers and engineers.
The United Arab Emirates is deeply committed to meeting the climate change demands of COP21 and, in line with this, the Group has set sustainability KPIs for each department. Therefore, as the IT team scaled its operations in-line with business objectives, they were keen to increasingly utilize virtualization and reduce their carbon footprint.
The organization’s existing backup solution, however, couldn’t meet the IT department’s three key objectives: virtualization advanced support; backup verification, and rapid recovery. “With our existing solution we were only able to back up our mission-critical applications and data, and that too was outside of working hours. We generate tremendous volumes of data daily, pertaining to designs, project management, supply chain and logistics, and other critical functions. It is important there are no interruptions to this data which could have a negative impact on the Group’s productivity,” Mario Foster, Group Chief Information Officer explained.
With a host of new applications being added to his environment and an inevitable data explosion on the horizon, Foster knew it was time to look for an alternative. “We were in the market for an ‘availability’ rather than just a backup solution. It had to enable us to meet our sustainability KPIs, safeguard data being constantly generated by the business, and ensure applications were always available to employees who relied on them,” he said.
ANGE evaluated Proof of Concepts (POCs) from multiple vendors. “While all solutions supported virtualization, Veeam had the best overall package and by far the most dedicated local support. They boasted an impressive list of references and were consistently recognized as a market leader by independent research firms such as Gartner,” explained Foster.
ANGE deployed the Veeam® Availability Suite™ as a single solution for its backup, replication, recovery and reporting needs. In addition, the solution’s deep integration in the IT environment meant it also offered powerful monitoring capabilities, thus proving to be the ‘feature-rich’ solution Foster had hoped for. “We have achieved 99.8% virtualization and Veeam offers us in-depth monitoring of 170 virtual machines (VMs) and the very limited physical servers,” stated Foster.
The Group instantly realized a tremendous increase in performance as backups were now smoothly executed in minutes, reducing RTO by 60%. So, despite ANGE’s data increasing by over 200%, the IT team is now able to back up all applications on a daily basis in real-time. This assured backup and constant availability of apps is fundamental to the Group as it utilizes more than twenty different specialized construction and commercial applications. “These apps enable everything from design, collaboration and communication to customer management, logistics and other mission-critical operations, thereby playing an essential role in all the operations of our organization,” explained Foster.
Through utilization of existing investments, Veeam has reduced the organization’s need to procure additional storage by 50%, taking advantage of Veeam’s compression and deduplicate technology, thereby saving roughly $180,000 in capital expenses. This enabled ANGE to achieve ROI on its Veeam deployment in well under two years.
Veeam SureBackup is a standout feature for ANGE, as it has eliminated the need to manually verify backups. “We are now assured that every backup is always taken correctly and can be used in any event or emergency,” said Foster. “We can thus guarantee up-to-date information is always available when and where it is needed - a vital requirement for an organization with over 100 offices and sites across such a vast area.”
He was also highly impressed by Veeam’s recovery features, stating, “Because a lot of the work our employees do requires collaboration and the involvement of contractors, it’s very important that we have reliable backups at every stage of the process in case there is a miscommunication or a need to refer to previous versions. Whereas file recovery could take up to a day, with Veeam, we can resolve these issues in under five minutes. What this means is that employees are not inhibited, but rather empowered by IT.”
Many key applications in ANGE’s environment weren’t designed for high availability, but Veeam addresses this by increasing VM restore speed by over 10 times.