Not everyone is familiar with ALPLA as a brand, even though most people in the world probably hold a product from the company in their hands on a daily basis. ALPLA develops and produces plastic packaging for food, cleaning products, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries and has well-known manufacturers in the FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) industry among its customers. This family-owned company, founded in 1955, has become a true global player over the decades.
ALPLA is headquartered in Hard on Lake Constance in Austria but produces worldwide. Most of the company's facilities are located in the immediate vicinity of its most important customers.
"It is neither sustainable nor economical to produce plastic packaging for stock and then transport it around the world. That's why we produce where our customers manufacture their products," said Daniel Schrom, Director of Corporate IT at ALPLA.
This level of customer proximity has a major impact on the company's IT. ALPLA operates its own server infrastructures across 160+ locations to control and automate its operational processes. Additionally, the company's business applications are often directly connected to their customer systems. For example, ALPLA’s beverage manufacturers automatically transmit their currently planned filling quantities through EDI interfaces, therefore enabling ALPLA to produce exactly the right quantity of PET bottles and make them available for filling in time.
"Therefore, the availability requirements for our IT are very high," said the project manager from the Corporate Data Center Services team at ALPLA. "Both the locally operated systems and centrally provided applications have to be reliably available around the clock. A failure would have an immediate and major impact on our business."
For this reason, data backup is a particularly critical factor for ALPLA. Ensuring failsafe operations at all sites used to be very time-consuming for ALPLA with their previous backup solution.
"We had to invest a lot of manual work and time because the solution was relatively cumbersome to use," said the project manager. "Troubleshooting and recovery took far too long and reporting was limited."
For this reason, ALPLA started looking for a solution that would largely automate the backup of the globally distributed server infrastructure and significantly speed up recovery. ALPLA’s IT team was supposed to spend as little time as possible on backup and recovery on a day-to-day basis, but at the same time needed be able to keep an eye on all processes worldwide. In addition, ALPLA wanted to offer local IT teams on-site self-services so that they can independently and quickly restore their systems and data when needed.
ALPLA’s IT managers explored the market in detail, drew up a shortlist and finally tested three products in proof-of-concept installations. In the end, the company decided to use Veeam Availability Suite.
"The solution clearly met our requirements best," said Schrom. "In particular, the intuitive operation, the wide range of functions and the future-proof technology, but also the good price-performance ratio spoke in favor of Veeam."
With the support of its IT partner, ACP, ALPLA planned the changeover of its globally distributed sites. Veeam Availability Suite was then implemented in ALPLA’s two main data centers in Austria and Germany and step-by-step at the individual sites. The rollout was largely automated thanks to scripted procedures.
In total, ALPLA uses Veeam to back up well over 1,000 VMs based in VMware vSphere with a data volume of over 500 TB. Each VM is first backed up to a local backup repository on site. Then, backup data is copied to the company's headquarters and stored again on tape for long-term retention.
"Especially when transferring data from our remote sites, we benefit significantly from Veeam's deduplication and WAN acceleration features," said the project manager. "We can therefore reduce the amount of data transferred by almost 70 percent."
Shortly after the conversion of the first sites, the use of Veeam Availability Suite paid off for ALPLA. At one of their plants in Mexico, their terminal server environment failed. As a result, employees no longer had access to their applications and data, a real worst-case scenario. With Veeam, ALPLA’s IT organization was able to respond immediately.
"In less than 30 minutes, we had everything restored and employees were able to resume working," said the project manager. "With our previous backup software, it probably would have taken us several days to get the servers up and running again."
Veeam gives ALPLA multiple options to quickly make data and applications available when needed. For example, with Instant VM Recovery™, VMs can be restarted from the backup within a few minutes. For services like Microsoft SQL Server, ALPLA uses Veeam's granular recovery capabilities. The company's core applications, like its customized supply chain management and production planning, are based on SQL databases. With Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server, the IT team can now recover entire databases or even individual transactions down to the minute. A simple slider user interface also makes the administrators' work much easier.
Today, ALPLA’s IT team also saves time and effort in meeting compliance requirements. VM tags are used, for example, to specify how long the backups of a VM should be retained. - for example, for one, five or ten years. This way, different legal requirements in individual countries can be mapped efficiently and transparently. Additionally, Veeam's replication function helps ALPLA implement a disaster recovery (DR) strategy. ALPLA uses Veeam to keep ready-to-start copies of business-critical systems at all times. Hence, ALPLA is also prepared for disaster scenarios.
"These different use cases underline how important the Veeam solution is for ALPLA's business today," Schrom said. "Above all, it is crucial that the solution relieves us of some routine tasks in day-to-day operations. The data backup always runs in the background. And, with Veeam's self-service functions, we can delegate recovery tasks to the individual sites going forward. This gives us more time for new digitization projects."
Securing 24.7.365 production at almost 180 locations
ALPLA's customers depend on receiving their required quantity of quality packaging just in time. With Veeam, ALPLA ensures high IT availability at all locations and therefore creates the basic prerequisites for maximum delivery reliability.
Data and application recovery in minutes
In the event of unplanned outages or disruptions, ALPLA’s IT department can now respond much faster than before. While it often used to take days for ALPLA to restore key IT systems, their employees now can have access to their applications and data again within just a few minutes.
Easy fulfillment of regional compliance obligations
With Veeam, ALPLA achieves a higher level of security for its globally distributed IT and is able to easily control how long certain data should be retained. This facilitates compliance with legal requirements in individual countries.