The business challenge
CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz represents a 50-year success story. Today,
CMS is a leading specialist in commercial law in Austria and Southeastern
Europe. In addition to its headquarters in Vienna, the company has offices
in 10 other countries.
With around 330 employees — including around 185 lawyers — CMS
Reich-Rohrwig Hainz covers a wide range of areas and supports
clients in segments such as start-ups and mergers & acquisitions, plus
employment, compliance and tax law.
CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz operates as part of the globally active CMS
network with 79 offices in 45 countries and more than 5,000 lawyers.
In terms of the number of lawyers, CMS is one of the 10 leading
international law firms and the largest in Europe.
The specialists at CMS think and work across industries and borders,
enabling them to offer clients the best possible advice wherever they are.
Following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic however, working conditions
have fundamentally changed.
“Until March 2020, our work environment was largely office-based and
many applications and data were run on-premises at the individual offices,”
explains Thomas Kroupa, Head of IT. “However, the pandemic necessitated
a complete redesign of our IT environment.”
Within a very short time, the IT team created the conditions to enable
employees to remotely access their entire workspace with all applications.
CMS introduced cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365 to support virtual
collaboration —primarily through the use of Microsoft Teams. At the same
time, decentralized server environments were dismantled in the remote
offices and services were moved to the central data center or the cloud.
This transformation process required a very careful approach from
the IT department: “As a law firm, we cannot compromise on security,
compliance and availability when switching from a pure on-premises
to a hybrid cloud model,” says Thomas Kroupa. “Our clients have full
confidence that we handle their data securely. Shaking this confidence
would be a real worst-case scenario for us.”
This called for the IT department to take a variety of requirements into
account when planning and implementing the redesign. These included
the strict requirements of the CMS network in terms of cyber security, data
protection and quality of service. Among other things, they had to ensure
that all data is reliably backed up and stored in accordance with the
applicable legal retention periods. In addition, the IT team had to develop
an exit strategy in the event of a possible change of cloud providers.
“Before migrating to the cloud, we looked at all the legal aspects in detail
and imposed very strict standards on ourselves, such as compliance
with the EU’s General Data Protection Guidelines and protection against
ransomware,” stresses Thomas Kroupa. “Now we needed a data protection
solution that maps out all of these specifications.”
The Veeam solution
In the end CMS decided to back up all data in the hybrid cloud environment
with Veeam®. “In our search for a holistic solution, we quickly realized that
Veeam is a good choice in terms of quality and cost-effectiveness. Their
solutions address exactly what customers need in a changing IT world —
maximum security, flexible deployment options and very easy operation.”
“We had previous experience with other backup solutions and were always
frustrated by the complexity,” adds Systems Administrator Michael Bencza.
“Veeam is really far ahead of those products in terms of functionality and
usability. Whether it’s the servers in our data center or Microsoft Office
365 and Teams data in the cloud, we can intuitively backup and restore all
resources from one central platform.”
Today the IT department uses the Veeam Availability Suite™ for backup
and recovery of around 70 virtual machines of the central VMware
infrastructure. This ensures that critical business applications such as the
central document management system are available at all times. If a virtual
machine fails, administrators can restart it from backup within minutes thanks
to Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery® technology. This is an important aspect
in situations such as when access to digital files and documents is urgently
needed during a trial.
With the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows, the remaining physical
servers were also integrated into the backup concept. In the event
of a hardware malfunction, these systems could also be restored
to replacement equipment within a very short time. The entire backup
infrastructure is monitored using the Veeam ONE™ monitoring solution.
“We always have an overview of all processes and components and are
alerted immediately if a backup fails,” explains Michael Bencza. “In addition,
Veeam ONE notifies us when the available storage resources for data backup
are running low. This allows us to plan and budget for expansion in a timely
When introducing Microsoft Office 365, CMS relied on Veeam Backup for
Microsoft Office 365 from the very beginning. With this solution, the law
firm retains full control over all data stored in Microsoft cloud services
such as SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Teams. All data
is regularly backed up to separate cloud storage in Microsoft Azure — and
protected with double encryption. In addition to a platform-managed key,
a customer-managed key is also used. This ensures that the data is not only
comprehensively protected against unintentional deletion, but also against
possible cyber risks.
Changing communication needs
Microsoft Teams in particular has become an unquestionably key
application for CMS during the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm’s employees
use the service to work on projects with colleagues from any location
or to communicate virtually with clients.
Thanks to Veeam, all Teams data — including configurations, permissions and
tabs — can also be reliably backed up and retained for any period of time.
If required, entire Teams channels can be flexibly restored down to the file
and message level. Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Teams then simplifies
targeted searches for files and content in the backed-up Teams data.
Protected even in the event of a crisis
CMS uses Veeam to ensure continuous IT operations and is also well prepared
for exceptional situations. In the spring of 2020 for example, an earthquake
shook the Croatian capital of Zagreb. The CMS office in the city was also
affected by the disaster, as connections to certain services were temporarily
unavailable. “With Veeam, we were able to respond very quickly and provide
users with access to their applications after just a few hours,” says Michael
Bencza. “Despite this highly exceptional situation, no data was lost.”
CMS uses Veeam Disaster Recovery Orchestrator to manage its disaster
recovery strategy. The solution supports automated recovery orchestration
with CDP replicas, regular replicas, backups and storage snapshots. This
eliminates many time-consuming manual processes in disaster recovery
planning. CMS can test, document and execute complete DR plans for
individual applications or entire sites with just one click.
“These disaster recovery tests are extremely valuable to us, as our environment is constantly
evolving and there are many interdependencies between systems,” Michael Bencza points
out. “It’s not enough to know that we’ve backed up all the data and systems reliably. We also
need to be assured that everything will work as it did before a restore.”
Orchestrator provides CMS with precisely this information in the form of automatically
updated reports. This also allows the IT department to predict exactly how long it would take
to recover critical business applications. Normal operations do not have to be interrupted for
the regular DR tests.
“The example shows that Veeam understands what companies really need today — a reliable
solution for data protection and disaster recovery from a single source,” sums up Thomas
Kroupa. “With TECHSOFT, we also have a partner at our side who has provided expert support
in the implementation of this holistic strategy.”
- Maximum security for sensitive client data: Even in the new hybrid cloud environment,
the confidential data that CMS works with is optimally protected. The comprehensive
protection provided by Veeam also enables the law firm to provide convenient digital
services such as encrypted document exchange for clients.
- Transparent regulatory compliance: Veeam has helped CMS make the move to the cloud
in line with a wide range of legal requirements. Among other things, the solution ensures
traceable compliance with legal retention periods and supports the implementation
of GDPR regulations for the protection of personal data.
- Efficient disaster recovery planning: With the Veeam solution, CMS is also well prepared
for exceptional situations. After an earthquake in Zagreb for example, employees at the
local office were able to access their applications again very quickly. With Veeam Disaster
Recovery Orchestrator, the law firm conducts regular DR tests and documents how quickly
recovery would be possible in the event of a disaster.