The Business Challenge
The City of Fremantle’s current IT priority is to move to a digital workflow, so staff
can access any data in any City application, on any device. According to Joel
Hurst, Manager of Information Technology, “A lot of paper comes through the
door and most of it is in the form of documentation pertaining to properties
or council premises. To me, true data availability is the ability to easily reference this
information at anytime from anywhere.”
The City Council also needs to meet strict compliance requirements around data
permanence. Different types of information is categorised using multiple retention
periods — some mandating retention for a number of years, while others must
be maintained forever.
But to the City of Fremantle, there is more at stake than just adhering to standards. Home
to Western Australia’s first permanent settlement, the City holds some records that
go back over 100 years, the loss of which would be ‘catastrophic’, according to Hurst.
“There are plans for a lot of very old buildings, some of them Heritage listed,”
he says. “Original plans and deeds of title for those buildings had to be digitised and
stored online because the hard copies were deteriorating. In some cases they’ve
fallen completely apart, so the digital copies are the only ones that exist. If we lose
those copies we’d never be able to get those plans back.”
Prior to adopting Veeam software, the City of Fremantle used a legacy solution
which was inherently unreliable. “It didn’t do what we needed,” Hurst says, “we had
no confidence that our backup copies would be there when we really need them.”
Overnight backups would often fail, meaning Hurst’s team had to conduct backups
throughout the business day just to catch up. “It had a huge impact on our
production environment because business application performance would slow
to a crawl while backup jobs were running.”
“And when we couldn’t recover critical data for our staff members who may have
accidentally deleted or lost files, it could delay time sensitive projects and often
result in the loss of many man-hours of work.”
The Veeam Solution
Veeam® Availability Suite™ provided an end to end solution for the City of Fremantle
that assured ongoing agility. Veeam was able to apply and secure the software
architecture to the existing hardware environment the City Council is using. In fact,
when new storage was put on tender later, there was a mandatory requirement for
integration with Veeam. The council decided on NetApp FAS2554 and All-Flash FAS
AFF8040. As the council recognised, Veeam® and NetApp’s experience dealing
with growing data volumes, more devices and applications and the growth of hybrid
cloud strategies means a consistently simplified IT environment.
The City of Fremantle now relies on NetApp FAS and All-Flash FAS to manage, move and
protect their critical applications and data. Veeam® Availability Suite™, directly integrates
with NetApp ONTAP, the operating system of NetApp FAS environments, to provide
increased levels of backup and DR automation for the City of Fremantle. Additionally, the
City’s IT staff rely on Veeam ONE™ to monitor the health of virtualized workloads across
the enterprise and enables them to proactively respond to the needs of the business.
The outcome is an improved interface layer between the hardware and data,
so access to the information is seamlessly shared, managed and protected. NetApp
tools make it easy to deploy software architectures into cloud environments, and
when put together with the Veeam platform, the council saw improvements in the
performance, protection and availability of data and applications.
Hurst believes the strongest improvements the Veeam and NetApp deployment have
made on City of Fremantle’s data availability needs have been simplicity and reliability.
With staff now freed from scrambling to keep up with failed backups, they are able to
work on more strategic projects that promote the innovation and digitalisation the City
is looking for. A state of the art administration building is under construction, and the IT
department needs to dedicate its efforts to systems development more than ever.
“The old method took a system administrator at least two to three hours a day
just to verify the backups had worked,” he laments. “If they hadn’t it’d be another
three or four hours re-running them, so more often than not it took one full time
employee a whole day just maintaining the back-up requirement, that’s a manpower
cost of around AUD300 per day.”
As Hurst has found, Veeam’s® integration with ONTAP deploys several tools that
have contributed to the new way of working. Backup and DR orchestration have
increased the council’s ROI by enabling application development, data analytics,
proactive testing and more.
And when disaster struck, it was even worse. About three years ago when using
its legacy backup and disaster recovery platform, the City of Fremantle found itself
attacked by malware that infected the core file system. The recovery procedures
specified that the system be shut down and the previous clean back-up reinstalled, but
because of backup failures, the most recent copy of the file system was not complete.
“The newest copy we had was about three days old, so we lost three days of data by
recovering the file system,” Hurst remarks. “We had four people working round the
clock for about four days manually removing the malware and cleaning up the file
system. It was very time consuming and I had to pay external contractors to assist my
team.” The operation was a success, but Hurst describes it as being ‘quite painful’.
“With Veeam, I know we’re taking incremental back-up every hour, and full backups
are being done once day over three hours in off-peak period, so the worst possible
outcome is I’ll lose three hours’ worth of data, and the restore time is so fast I can
reinstall core systems within an hour.”
- Full systems backup in three hours assures data and systems hyper-availability
The full production system can now be duplicated for backup by Veeam in three
hours versus almost eight hours or more with the previous solution which
sometimes ran longer into business hours in the following day.
- No impact on performance
Because backups are now so fast, they are performed in low peak usage periods,
leaving computing resources free during the workday when staff are working
on their computers.
- Saved an entire day of man-hours a month to focus on strategic initiatives
When the previous backup regime ran into errors and locked up overnight,
a systems administrator would routinely spend all day sorting out what was not
backed up and complete it manually. Now the process is automated and reliability
that it was completely done is assured, potentially saving the AUD300 per day
of manpower cost when things went wrong in the legacy system.