The Business Challenge
Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer AG.
The Bayer 04 Leverkusen professional team is the “flagship” of Bayer’s sports
teams and has been in the Bundesliga football league without interruption since
1979. Its many successes include winning the UEFA Cup in 1988, the DFB Cup
in 1993 and reaching the Champions League final in 2002.
“When you hear the name Bayer 04 Leverkusen, you probably think of exciting
evenings of football rather than servers and databases,” says Stefan Aufderbeck,
Team Leader IT Infrastructure and Platforms at Bayer 04 Leverkusen. “However,
professional football at the top level is no longer imaginable without IT support,
and our reliance on data and analytics has never been greater.”
From data analyses in talent scouting and video evaluations of recent matches,
to monitoring the medical values of individual players, Bundesliga clubs now use
state-of-the-art IT applications to boost team performance and extract the final
percent to succeed. Bayer 04 Leverkusen has also recently brought its several
hundred terabyte photo and video archive back in-house, which was previously
outsourced to an external agency. The IT department must therefore securely
and reliably provide a growing volume of data and applications at all times.
The highest availability requirements apply to the IT systems that control
stadium operations on match days. More than 30,000 spectators flock to the
BayArena in Leverkusen for every home game. “If a system such as the electronic
access control system is unavailable for even a few seconds on that day, there
is immediate turmoil at the stadium turnstiles,” explains Aufderbeck.
Outages can be caused by more than just technical issues. Football clubs
are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals. “As a sports brand, we are
permanently in the public eye, which means we are also exposed to significantly
more IT attacks than other organizations of our size,” says the IT specialist.
“External experts confirmed this time and again when reviewing our security logs.”
Bayer 04 Leverkusen was therefore looking for a solution that would reliably
protect the club’s IT infrastructure from data loss due to cyber risks and enable
rapid recovery of any IT resources in the event of an outage.
The Veeam Solution
With the support of IT partner, Bechtle, Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s IT department
replaced the existing software with Veeam® Backup & Replication™. The Veeam
solution ensures the continuous availability of several hundred virtual machines
in a VMware vSphere environment. These include business-critical Microsoft
applications such as SQL Server, as well as all applications related to match day
operations at the BayArena, such as systems for access control, electronic cash
registers and cashless payment.
“If one of these critical systems fails on match day, we can make it available again
in less than two minutes with the Veeam solution,” reports Aufderbeck. Bayer
04 Leverkusen benefits from the seamless integration of the Veeam solution
with the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Nimble (HPE) storage system. Veeam
Backup & Replication makes it possible to restore individual application objects
or even complete virtual machines directly from storage snapshots on the
primary storage. “Whether it’s the box office systems or ticket verification at the
entrance, we can respond to any failure scenario within the shortest possible
time, ensuring that all visitors experience a smooth visit to the stadium.”
To ensure maximum availability of the IT systems, Bayer 04 Leverkusen
implemented a multilevel backup strategy with Veeam. The IT organization
uses high-performance HPE Apollo systems as its primary backup target. This
solution offers high performance for fast recovery of recent backups. At the
same time, the scale-out architecture ensures easy scalability. “As storage needs
grow, we can simply add additional capacity without making management
more complex,” explains Aufderbeck. From an administrator’s point of view, the
different physical storage systems form a single backup target.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen uses a protected object storage repository based on Nutanix
technology as capacity storage. Thanks to Veeam’s immutable backup feature, the
backed-up data is safe from any tampering. “We can specify that the backups in object
storage cannot be changed for a certain period of time,” explains Aufderbeck. “This
means our data is also optimally protected against potential ransomware attacks.”
At the same time, Bayer 04 Leverkusen benefits from the integrated
deduplication technology. With Veeam, the IT department was able to reduce the
storage requirements for its virtual machines by around 50 percent and thus also
significantly reduce the costs for backup storage.
For long-term retention, Bayer 04 Leverkusen backs up all data on the Microsoft
Azure Blob Storage Archive Tier. Veeam supports the native integration of this costeffective
archive storage and automatically moves the backup data from the capacity
storage in the company’s own data center to the “cold storage” in the cloud. “Archive
Tier Storage in Microsoft Azure gives us an additional layer of backup — and at a
very low monthly cost,” says Aufderbeck. “We will most likely never access this data
again, but in exceptional situations it will still be available to us years from now.”
Finally, the Veeam solution also allows Bayer 04 Leverkusen to implement
a reliable disaster recovery strategy. The IT organization plans to use Veeam
Backup & Replication to keep copies of all virtual machines at a third data
center location. Business-critical applications will also be replicated to a coldstandby
environment in Microsoft Azure in the future. Even if all of the club’s
data centers were impacted by a disaster, the most important services could
be brought back up in the cloud within a few hours.
Stefan Aufderbeck therefore believes that Bayer 04 Leverkusen is well positioned
for the future with Veeam. “The importance of information technology continues
to grow in professional football. That’s why it was so important for us to take the
protection of our IT systems to a new level with Veeam. At the same time, Veeam
helps us get a handle on the growing volumes of data in all areas of the club, and
protects us against ransomware attacks.”
- Secure stadium operations through maximum IT availability
Bayer 04 Leverkusen uses Veeam to ensure that IT systems for access control,
cash register systems and cashless payment can be restored in less than two
minutes in the event of a failure. The club thus ensures that more than 30,000
spectators at Bundesliga games or international matches enjoy a safe and
pleasant experience at the BayArena.
- Reliable protection against cyber risks such as ransomware
The multilevel backup strategy and immutable backups prevent data loss
and safeguard the IT infrastructure against cyber-attacks. “Thanks to Veeam,
we no longer have to worry about our IT being completely shut down
by a ransomware attack,” says Stefan Aufderbeck.
- Efficient handling of growing data volumes
Scouting databases, video analytics and multimedia content are producing
constantly growing volumes of data. Veeam helps Bayer 04 Leverkusen
cope with this explosive growth. The integrated deduplication technology
helps reduce the storage requirements for the backed-up data by around
50 percent, thus minimizing backup storage costs as well. In addition,
Veeam integrates cost-effective archive storage into the cloud for longterm
archiving of vast amounts of data.