At Baloise Luxembourg, 500 employees work hard to offer high-quality insurance services that make customers safer. The company’s comprehensive offering includes life and non-life insurance products, delivered online and via the contact center.
“We have built a strong reputation by being there for our customers when they need us most,” said Emmanuel Hampert, Team leader Core Infrastructure at Baloise Luxembourg. “To deliver exceptional service, we rely on a range of digital platforms, including contract and customer relationship management systems as well as an online customer portal. These systems must be available around the clock, because without them our customers and contact center agents would be unable to access important information such as policy schedules.”
Baloise Luxembourg delivers its digital services using 600 VMware virtual machines (VMs) running on 20 physical hosts, distributed across two data centers in a high-availability cluster.
“In the past, we used physical and virtual tape libraries for short- and long-term retention,” said Hampert. “However, the process was so time- consuming that we were only able to back up a subset of our most-critical data, not entire VMs.”
In the event of a recovery scenario, Baloise Luxembourg would previously have needed to rebuild its servers from the ground up before it could restore data — resulting in up to 10 days of downtime in a worst-case scenario in which all 600 VMs had to be recovered.
"New threats such as ransomware are emerging all the time, which means it’s never been more important to recover rapidly,” said Hampert. “In close collaboration with our parent company, we looked for a new data protection solution that would cut our recovery time objective [RTO] and enable us to back up all 275TB of data across our IT environment.”
Following an in-depth evaluation process, both Baloise Luxembourg and its parent Baloise Group selected Veeam® Availability Suite™ to deliver effective protection against emerging cyber threats. Veeam Availability Suite combines simple, flexible and reliable backup, recovery, and data management capabilities from Veeam Backup & Replication™ with powerful monitoring and analytics from Veeam ONE™.
“Of all the data protection solutions we evaluated, we felt that Veeam was the best fit for Baloise Luxembourg,” said Hampert. “We operate an almost fully virtualized environment based on VMware vSphere, and Veeam allows us to back up all virtual and physical systems in line with our service-level targets.”
After reviewing proposals from solution integrators across the country, Baloise Luxembourg chose System Solutions to deploy its new data protection platform.
“We invited several companies to submit architecture proposals, and we were most impressed with the design that System Solutions put forward,” said Hampert. “While most vendors suggested a two-tier approach based on disk and tape, System Solutions designed an architecture with an additional tier of high-performance disk storage — allowing us to further drive down RTO.”
Working with System Solutions, Baloise Luxembourg deployed Veeam as its new data protection platform. Today, all data is backed up daily to tier-1 Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) 3PAR StoreServ storage and tier-2 HPE StoreOnce appliances, with a long-term copy written to LTO-8 tape media.
The solution is replicated between the company’s two data centers, allowing rapid failover in the event of an issue with one of the sites.
“We are now following Veeam’s 3-2-1-1-0 backup rule: at least three copies of our data on two different media with one copy stored offsite and oftine,” said Hampert. “One of the things that we appreciated most was the speed with which the System Solutions team guided us through the implementation process and helped us resolve issues that arose along the way. We wanted to be involved in every step of the process to gain greater knowledge of how the Veeam solution works and make management easier in the long term. The team went out of their way to share their expertise and experience, which we greatly appreciated.”
With a full incremental backup of 275TB each day, Baloise Luxembourg has the peace of mind that all its data and systems are protected. Crucially, the company can recover fast in the event of a technical issue or cyberattack.
“We now back up our critical data once per hour and our VMs daily, reducing our RPO to a maximum of one hour for data and 24 hours for servers,” said Hampert. “Whether we’re recovering a couple of accidentally deleted files or an entire VM, our RTO is now just five minutes. In the past, even restoring a single file could take as long as two days, so what we’ve achieved with Veeam has made a massive difference to our recovery capabilities. In fact, we estimate that we could restore our critical core applications in just 24 hours — 90% faster than before.”
Looking ahead, Baloise Luxembourg plans to build on what is has achieved with Veeam to deliver even better protection for its customers.
“In the next 12 months, we plan to enable immutable backups with Veeam — preventing ransomware attackers from encrypting our VM copies,” said Hampert. “We are also very interested in exploring hybrid-cloud backups, replacing our tape libraries with more agile and efficient storage from platforms such as Microsoft Azure or Amazon S3.”
• Lashes RTO by 90% and enables recovery of individual files or entire VMs in minutes
• Saves 100 person-days per year on backup tasks, enabling value- added development
• Reduces time spent preparing for audits by 95%, improving operational efficiency