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Prairie South School Division

Canadian School Division Decreases Backup Storage Costs by $50,000 Per Year


The Prairie South School Division encompasses much of south-central Saskatchewan, stretching south to the U.S. border. Prairie South operates 40 schools and serves approximately 7,000 students.


Find a VMware backup solution that is intuitive, improves backup speed, and decreases backup storage costs.


  • Easy to use; reliable customer support
  • Increases backup speed by 93%
  • Decreases backup storage costs by $50,000 each year

The Business Challenge

The primary responsibility of the IT Department within the Prairie South School Division is to support student learning. Almost all of the division’s educational data and student information is electronic, and the IT Department ensures that it is readily available and backed up safely and securely to offsite locations. The IT Department also supports roughly 8,500 users (7,000 students plus 1,500 staff). Like many school divisions, Prairie South chose server virtualization for the following opportunities: to reduce costs, leverage investments in high-capacity servers, and respond to user demands in a more timely manner. Now more than 95 percent of the school division’s servers are virtualized.

Barry Stewart, IT Manager for Prairie South, and his colleague, David MacLachlan, Network Administrator, implemented several VMware backup solutions before Veeam Backup & Replication.

“The other solutions were slow, unreliable, and required large amounts of backup storage space,” Barry explained. “Many of the all-in-one backup solutions required VCB and didn’t use vStorage like Veeam. That’s when we began looking for an alternative VMware solution that was intuitive, would decrease backup storage requirements and costs, and improve backup speed, thus shortening the backup window.”

The Veeam Solution

Veeam Backup & Replication met each of Barry and David’s criterion. They purchased the software through Epic Information Solutions, a Winnipeg-based company that specializes in the deployment and management of dynamic business solutions and is the number one Manitoba partner for HP Canada.

“First of all, Veeam Backup & Replication was easy to use,” David explained. “It was totally different from other backup solutions we tried. One of those solutions required us to jump through multiple hoops to ensure it worked with VMware. But with Veeam, you install it quickly and easily, and you get a very helpful interface. I didn’t have to read any long, complicated documentation. Everything with Veeam made sense, right from the start.”

When Barry and David encountered an issue backing up one of their Microsoft System Center virtual machines, they called Veeam customer support. “From a management viewpoint, the real-world experience we had with Veeam’s support network was amazing,” David said. “Within three phone calls, I was talking to developers, and they provided an easy workaround solution.”

In addition to ease of use, Veeam Backup & Replication greatly improved backup speed, thus shortening the backup window for the school division. Prairie South has two backup processes: one in each school and one in the data centre. “Before we began using Veeam Backup & Replication, the backup process in each school took an entire night and often continued into the next school day, which slowed down the servers and frustrated users the next morning,” Barry explained. “Now the backup process at each school takes 30 minutes to one hour.”

The backup window for the data center is much shorter now too. “What used to take 12 hours now takes two hours,” he added.

The third criterion on Barry and David’s list for a better backup solution was decreased backup storage requirements. “As you can imagine, we have very limited budgets in the education sector,” David explained. “With Veeam’s data deduplication, the backup window shrunk, and the amount of backup storage required decreased substantially as well. Now we save approximately $50,000 each year on backup storage costs because of Veeam.”

The Results

Easy to use; reliable customer support
Compared to other VMware backup solutions, Veeam Backup & Replication was much easier to install and use. That’s because Veeam Backup & Replication was built from the ground up for the virtual world. When Barry and David encountered an issue backing up one of their virtual machines, the Veeam support team provided a solution in short order.

Increases backup speed by 93 percent
The backup process at each Prairie South school used to take six to 12 hours, often spilling into the next school day—slowing down servers and frustrating users the next morning. Now that same process takes 30 minutes to one hour with Veeam Backup & Replication.

Decreases backup storage costs by $50,000 each year
Veeam Backup & Replication has built-in data deduplication, which reduces disk space requirements for backups and results in significant cost savings.

Prairie South School Division
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