The business challenge
“r.e. think energy” is the motto of BayWa r.e. The globally active company has set itself the goal of rethinking solar, wind and bioenergy — how it is produced, how it is stored and how it can best be used. BayWa r.e. is driving the energy revolution forward worldwide. Every day, the company’s approximately 2,400 employees work on innovative solutions which help make renewable energies even better.
BayWa r.e. offers its customers end-to-end project solutions — from planning and consulting, project development and turnkey construction through ongoing operational management. In this process, the company repeatedly creates lighthouse projects such as “Don Rodrigo” — the largest subsidy-free solar park in Europe. The plant near Seville has an output of 175 megawatts and was the first project of this size to be implemented completely without subsidies. This shows that it is possible to produce electricity from renewable energy sources at a lower cost than with conventional forms of energy generation.
BayWa r.e. is also setting new standards with other pioneering projects. In just eight weeks, the company installed the largest floating solar park in Europe on a dredging lake in the Netherlands. A previously unused artificial body of water was transformed into a highly efficient green energy generator.
Innovations like these can only be developed by bundling global expertise and creativity. The specialists of BayWa r.e. in 26 countries work closely together across geographical boundaries and use a large number of different applications for this purpose. Some of these applications are provided via large data centers in Germany and Singapore — the company obtains other services for virtual collaboration from the cloud. BayWa r.e. was one of the first companies in Germany to strategically rely on the cloud services of Microsoft Office 365.
“Our global development teams need reliable access to applications and data from any location in order to be able to implement innovative projects on schedule,” says Florian Sutter, system administrator at BayWa r.e. “At the same time, our operative business also depends enormously on IT availability. As a service provider, BayWa r.e. is responsible for the technical and commercial management of renewable energy plants with a total output of more than eight gigawatts. IT systems which, for instance, record the operating data of the plants around the world must be available around the clock. “In our industry, we cannot afford any failures or data losses,” says Sutter. “We therefore need a platform to manage data and applications with absolute reliability — regardless of whether they are located in our data centers or in the cloud”.
The Veeam solution
BayWa r.e. had already decided to use Veeam technology when setting up its virtual server infrastructure several years ago. With Veeam Backup & Replication all virtual machines of the VMware vSphere environment — including productive databases and Exchange servers —were protected and delivered with high availability from the very beginning. “In addition to the perfect interaction with the VMware infrastructure, technologies such as Instant VM Recovery and replication convinced us most of all,” says Sutter. “The Veeam solution enables us to restart failed virtual machines within minutes. In addition, the recoverability of the backed-up resources is constantly monitored. This makes it much easier for us to achieve the required level of availability for our global business”.
When BayWa r.e. outsourced the operation of its virtual infrastructure to an external colocation provider, the successful combination of solutions was therefore retained. “We deliberately chose a service provider with proven Veeam expertise and were also able to carry out the migration to the colocation data center with virtually no downtime thanks to Veeam,” reports the system administrator. The IT department of BayWa r.e. saved replicas of all virtual machines on the service provider’s storage systems. These could be immediately restarted in the new productive environment — without any disruptions or impairments to business operations.
Since the changeover to the new service model, the external partner has taken care of all operative backup and recovery processes. However, BayWa r.e. can transparently track all processes via the reporting functions of Veeam and has the certainty that the backups run without errors.
The energy company also relied on Veeam technology for the next transformation step of its IT. Together with the cloud services of Microsoft Office 365, it also introduced Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365.
“Companies often think that after switching to Office 365, they no longer need to worry about backing up data stored in the cloud,” Sutter explains. “But the exact opposite is true. The responsibility for the permanent backup of data in Office 365 and other cloud services lies with us as users. Without an additional backup solution, accidentally deleted files or e-mails are lost for good after a short time”.
In order to prevent this, BayWa r.e. implemented Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 for all employees — initially primarily to protect e-mail communication. All Exchange Online data is thus regularly backed up on its own systems in the colocation data center. In this way, individual e-mails or even entire mailboxes and archives can be restored at any time. “In one case, this involved recourse claims from a project several years ago,” says Sutter. “The communication for this was no longer accessible in the Office 365 archive. Thanks to Veeam, we were able to completely restore the relevant e-mails, document the facts correctly and thus avert potential economic damage amounting to millions”.
In addition to Exchange Online data, BayWa r.e. now also uses Veeam solution to back up all data stored in SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams. Especially the SharePoint environments play a key role for the internal knowledge management and the joint processing of documents. BayWa r.e. replaced many local SharePoint installations and file servers in recent years and migrated the content to SharePoint Online, “The reliable backup solution has made this migration much easier,” confirms Sutter. “All locations can rest assured that the switch to the cloud poses no risk to the information stored in SharePoint. Over the past few months, we have had repeated requests to restore individual documents or even complete sites to SharePoint Online. With Veeam, it has always worked seamlessly.”
Currently, IT managers are already planning the next steps with Veeam. In the course of the ongoing digitalization, BayWa r.e. also wants to transfer more workloads to Microsoft Azure in the future. “We are therefore evaluating the possible use of Veeam Backup for Microsoft Azure”, says Sutter. “There is a very strong case for also backing up Azure workloads with Veeam in the future, thus protecting all our data and applications following consistent standards”.
- Highly available IT for sustainable energy projects:
When developing and operating solar, wind and bioenergy plants, BayWa r.e. can rely on a highly available IT in the background. With Veeam, all data and applications are reliably backed up and can be restored within minutes in the event of a failure.
- Protection against data loss in the cloud:
Microsoft Office 365 plays a key role in the internal collaboration and communication of BayWa r.e.’s globally distributed employees. With the Veeam solution, the energy company retains full control over the data stored in the cloud and eliminates risks caused by the accidental deletion of e-mails or documents.
- Acceleration of digital transformation:
BayWa r.e. sees the future in the cloud and is migrating more and more resources to platforms such as Microsoft Azure to drive digitalization. Veeam’s cloud data management supports this path and enables the use of new services — without compromising data availability.