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County Depends on Veeam Essentials to Protect Systems Delivering Gas, Oil and Water

The Business Challenge

Smoky Lake County encompasses a predominately rural region with farms, forests and lakes. Residents rely on the county to provide essential services to their homes, such as oil and natural gas for heat along with water and sewer services. Most residents don’t have piped water systems due to high installation costs and extreme cold weather. Instead, residents rely on automated bulk water dispensing systems. Their water use is tracked and invoiced by software that runs on virtual machines (VMs) in the county’s data center. The county’s GIS mapping system used to route emergency vehicles, locate vehicles and assess property values will be virtualized in late 2014.

Almost all services provided to residents are facilitated by systems virtualized on Microsoft Hyper-V. The county’s data center houses a small but critically important IT infrastructure. Only one individual is responsible for the IT infrastructure, and he works within a conservative budget. The IT solutions he chooses must be highly efficient, affordable and easy to use.

When Brian Niziol, IT Technician for Smoky Lake County, virtualized the IT infrastructure, he tried to back up the new VMs with the same tool he used to back up physical servers. The legacy backup tool didn’t work as well as he had hoped. Backups were slow, and he was never sure if they completed successfully. Backups required a lot of disk space; Niziol anticipated having to purchase $1,000 in new storage each year. Recovery with the backup tool was an issue too. Niziol said the recovery process was complicated and time-consuming.

“I had no confidence in my ability to recover from a backup,” he explained. “We’re required by law to keep all email correspondence, and I worried about being able to recover emails from our Microsoft Exchange backups. I needed a backup solution with quick and easy recovery features.”

Niziol also wanted monitoring, reporting and capacity planning capabilities for his backup and Hyper-V infrastructures. As a one-man IT department, he needed relief from manually monitoring backup performance and anticipating backup repository requirements. Niziol wanted to improve the performance and availability of the entire virtual environment.

The Veeam Solution

Smoky Lake County chose Veeam® Backup Essentials™ for powerful, affordable and easy-to-use backup, recovery, monitoring, reporting and capacity planning. Veeam Backup Essentials protects the virtualized data and applications that facilitate gas, oil and water services for county residents.

Niziol said the benefits with Veeam Backup Essentials were immediate. Within a few hours, he installed Veeam and backed up and recovered VMs and files with ease. He said backups are twice as fast as backups with the legacy tool and require 50% less storage, saving the county approximately $500 in new storage each year. Veeam is agentless, storage agnostic and has built-in deduplication and compression, which decreases network traffic and disk space required for storing backup files.

Best of all, Niziol said he has complete confidence in his ability to recover from backups, including items in Microsoft Exchange. If the county is required to provide copies of emails in a court of law, Veeam can recover emails from backups in short order.

“You can’t underestimate the value of complete confidence,” Niziol said. “Each day when I leave the office, I know Veeam will send me an email at about 10 p.m. telling me that my backups completed successfully. I have that same level of confidence about Veeam recovery. I know I can restore anything backed up with Veeam.”

From a single image-based backup, Veeam restores whole VMs, individual files and application items in minutes. Instant VM Recovery® restarts a failed VM from a backup, Instant File-Level Recovery restores individual files from any guest operating system and file system, and Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange recovers emails, contacts, and notes.

Backup and recovery are vitally important, but so is virtualization management. Veeam Backup Essentials brings enterprise capabilities to small Hyper-V (and VMware vSphere) installations through advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning of the Hyper-V infrastructure and the backup infrastructure. Complete visibility of the entire virtualized environment helps organizations optimize performance.

Now Niziol can verify that his VMs are configured for successful backup, and he can plan proactively for backup repository capacity requirements. Prebuilt alerts and 24x7 monitoring notify him of issues affecting his backup infrastructure, and advanced reporting enables him to identify unprotected VMs, document backup status and optimize backup resources. For example, right-sizing reports analyze historical performance information to provide recommendations for optimized VM configuration and allocation of resources.

“Veeam Backup Essentials helps me be the most efficient administrator I can be,” Niziol said. “It’s a reliable solution that works every time.”

The Results

Backup is twice as fast and requires 50% less storage
Veeam Backup Essentials provides Smoky Lake County with fast, reliable and costefficient VM backup and recovery. Compared to the legacy backup tool, backup with Veeam is twice as fast and requires 50% less storage, eliminating the need to purchase new disks and saving the county roughly $500 each year.

Easy, reliable, high-speed recovery reduces risk of data loss
Before deploying Veeam Backup Essentials, Niziol had no confidence in his ability to restore from a backup. Veeam is a set-and-forget backup and recovery solution that relieves administrators of complicated recovery operations. Veeam Backup Essentials is for organizations with fewer than 250 employees and Hyper-V or vSphere environments with 2, 4 or 6 sockets.

Complete visibility through monitoring, reporting and capacity planning optimizes backup resources
Before Veeam Backup Essentials, the only way to know if a backup completed successfully was by logging into each server. With Veeam, Niziol not only receives nightly emails detailing the state of each backup, he also has access to a dashboard that provides at-a-glance views of backup jobs and status. In addition, Veeam reports help him keep track of when backup repositories are getting full, taking the guesswork out of resource optimization.

Smoky Lake County
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Smoky Lake County is a municipal district in Alberta, Canada. Encompassing 1,300 square miles, Smoky Lake County is home to 5,000 residents. The economy is based on agriculture, forestry, natural gas and oil. Tourism, including ecotourism, is a significant growth industry.


  • Backup was slow, unreliable and consumed too much storage.
  • Recovery was complicated, lengthy and unpredictable for mandatory government recordkeeping.
  • Tracking backup status was manual and time-consuming, and capacity planning for the backup infrastructure was challenging.


  • Backup is twice as fast and requires 50% less storage
  • Easy, reliable, high-speed recovery reduces risk of data loss
  • Complete visibility through monitoring, reporting and capacity planning optimizes backup resources
Smoky Lake County
Please rate how helpful this article was to you:
4.8 out of 5 based on 10 ratings
Thank you for helping us improve!
An error occurred during voting. Please try again later.