The Business Challenge
Moulton College has a sizeable ICT network that supports 800 employees and 3,800 students across several campuses. Eighty percent of the computing infrastructure is virtualised on VMware vSphere with 76 Windows and Linux virtual machines (VMs).
Like many educational institutions, Moulton College has a restricted budget to support its ICT infrastructure. Therefore, its small ICT team must be practical and resourceful. As soon as team members realised their legacy backup tool wasn’t designed to back up and recover their virtual environment efficiently and effectively, they considered other options.
The legacy backup tool had many shortcomings. It was slow, so team members couldn’t back up all VMs each day. Rather, they had to determine which mission-critical VMs to back up, preventing them from consistently meeting their recovery point objectives (RPOs). In addition, the legacy backup tool couldn’t back up their Linux VMs. They considered adding VMware agents to the legacy tool so it would support their entire virtual environment, but the added expense of purchasing, deploying and maintaining agents in each VM made the legacy tool cost-prohibitive.
Recovery was also sad story. If a VM failed, team members had to rebuild it from scratch, which could take hours or days. Meeting their recovery point objectives (RPOs) was impossible. Moulton College turned to Cutter Project Ltd for advice.
“We’ve worked with Cutter for a number of years, and they’ve always recommended strategic solutions that meet our objectives,” said Giles Batchelor, Network Development & Services Manager for Moulton College. “We asked Cutter to help us find fast, easy-to-use and cost-effective backup and recovery.”
The Veeam Solution
Cutter recommended that Moulton College use Veeam® Backup & Replication™ and undertook the implementation for the College. Veeam provides powerful, easy-to-use and affordable backup and recovery of virtualised applications and data for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
“In our opinion, Veeam Backup & Replication is a safe pair of hands,” said Kim Mount, Chief Solution Architect for Cutter Project Ltd. “We’re responsible for providing our clients with the confidence their data is securely backed up, and Veeam never disappoints them or us. It was a no-brainer to put our reputation on the line and say Veeam was the right solution for Moulton College.”
As anticipated, backup speed has improved significantly at Moulton College. Before Veeam, backing up some (not all) VMs took 14 hours. With Veeam, backing up all VMs takes six hours each day, enabling team members to meet their RPOs.
“Backup speed is important, but recovery is more important,” Batchelor said. “The biggest difference we saw between Veeam and our legacy backup tool was being able to recover a failed VM from a backup in minutes. That recovery feature wasn’t available in the legacy tool. The reviews I found online confirmed our decision to go with Veeam. Almost every review I read said our legacy tool plus its agents wasn’t able to adequately protect virtual environments.” Mount said most of his clients agree their legacy backup tools aren’t designed to support their virtual environments.
“Nearly 95% of our virtualisation clients use Veeam Backup & Replication,” he explained. “We automatically include it with all VMware and Hyper-V installations because it does exactly what it promises to do, and it protects our investments in our clients, as well as our clients’ investments in their infrastructures. As soon as a client sees the power of an instant restore with Veeam, he’s sold. Giles knew Veeam was perfect for Moulton College soon after I started a demo. All I had to do was delete and restore a VM, which took about a minute.”
“Our clients see Veeam as a one-stop backup and recovery solution that empowers them to work smarter, not harder, whether they’re running Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc.,” Mount continued. “They know once they virtualise a server, their VM is protected with Veeam. They don’t have to worry about backups anymore. They are confident knowing Veeam has their back. They tell us they sleep better at night because of Veeam.”
Like many of Cutter’s clients, Moulton College recognises two Veeam features as key to protecting its virtual environment. Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange provides item-level discovery and recovery in minutes, and SureBackup® automatically verifies the recoverability of every backup.
And, like many of Cutter’s clients, Veeam is giving Moulton College the confidence to virtualise all mission-critical physical servers, including Microsoft SQL and file servers that store students’ home folders and instructors’ teaching materials. If the latter fail, students can’t access their assignments, and instructors can’t upload new teaching materials.
“One of our file servers failed a few years ago, and it took three days to rebuild and recover it,” Batchelor said. With Veeam, we’ll be able to restore that server in minutes.
“Everyone should take a look at Veeam Backup & Replication,” he continued. “It’s brilliant. Veeam makes backup faster and recovering files an absolute dream.”
RPOS are easy to meet with fast, agentless backup
Because backup is faster with Veeam Backup & Replication, Moulton College backs up VMs frequently. For example, the VM running Microsoft Exchange was backed up twice a week before Veeam. With Veeam, it’s backed up once a day, ensuring better RPOs.
Item-level recovery is quick and nearly effortless
Before deploying Veeam Backup & Replication, the ICT team at Moulton College had to navigate a complicated interface to restore files with its legacy backup tool. It was an unspoken rule that some items, including emails, could not be recovered because of the time and effort involved. With Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange, recovering individual items such as emails, contacts and notes takes minutes.
Instant VM Recovery in lieu of troubleshooting a software update
One of Moulton College’s favorite Veeam features is Instant VM Recovery®, which lets the ICT team recover a failed VM from a backup in minutes. “Veeam saved the day for us when we were installing virtual licensing software during an update. Something failed, but rather than spend hours deciding what bit to fix, we recovered the VM from a backup and started over.”