The Business Challenge
IT is the backbone of IAK. The entire organization is computerized, which means members, employees, and consultants use the network for all interactions. The IT center is fully virtualized and consists of six physical servers, which contain five virtual hosts and 40 virtual machines. René Truelsen, system administrator for IAK, implemented a backup solution for the virtualized environment in 2007. The product worked well until an upgrade was released.
“After that it was all down hill,” he explained. “Backups began to fail regularly, so we contacted customer support. We were told to wait for the next release, which we did, but that version just brought about a new set of problems.”
René and his team began searching for a different backup solution for the virtualized environment that would provide stability and reliability. He was tired of spending five to eight hours each week validating and fixing failed backups. “We ran backups each Sunday, but if they failed, we re-ran them on Monday morning,” he said. “Not only did this take too much time, but it also slowed down the network, which had a negative effect on our users.”
The Veeam Solution
René downloaded Veeam Backup & Replication, liked what he saw, and worked with N2IT, a Danish firm that helps organizations like IAK optimize IT installations, to obtain licenses. The first thing René realized, which is now his favorite attribute of Veeam Backup & Replication, is the need for only one full backup. Following the first full backup, Veeam conducts incremental backups only, unlike the other product that required full backups each week. “Nine hundred gigabytes is a lot of data to compress and copy, which is why it took 20 hours each Sunday to do a full backup with the other product,” René said. “If it didn’t run successfully, which happened routinely, I spent five to eight hours on Monday fixing it. Not only did this consume nearly my whole day, but it also slowed down the system, which directly affected our users.”
With Veeam Backup & Replication, René only had to complete one initial full backup (900 gigabytes). Going forward, the software performs incremental backups only. That’s because Veeam Backup & Replication uses a synthetic backup technique that rebuilds the last full image to the most recent state and calculates a reverse increment to store the historical change data. This provides René with a full virtual machine image for quick restore, while reverse increments allow for restoration to any point in time.
“Not having to do a full backup each week and then troubleshoot problems the next day saves me up to 28 hours each week,” René said. “This directly impacts the restore process as well. While I haven’t compared restore speeds, I do know the speed is consistent with Veeam, which is very important in a disaster recovery situation. The restore speed was not predictable with the previous product because it depended upon how much data had changed since the last backup.”
Veeam’s incremental backups also save on storage space. A 14-day rollback with Veeam Backup & Replication consumed ½ a terabyte of space. A similar rollback with the other product resulted in 1 terabyte. Veeam’s de-duplication saves on storage space as well. When performing backup of multiple virtual machines, Veeam Backup & Replication de-duplicates similar blocks inside the backup file. De-duplication provides exceptional results when René backs up multiple virtual machines created from a single template. “Reduced backup storage with Veeam leads to other interesting options too,” he explained. “Now we can synchronize Veeam backup storage files over a wide-area network (WAN) connection to remote sites, due to the smaller size of the backup file and Veeam’s synthetic backup technique, which makes block-level synchronization possible.”
René also noted that Veeam Backup & Replication was one of the first products to support VMware vSphere 4. Veeam takes full advantage of thin-provisioned disks and changed block tracking to improve overall performance. “The other product didn’t offer this functionality, and another product we considered actually had the changed block tracking feature disabled by default,” René explained. “Veeam Backup & Replication automatically takes advantage of that feature.”
Saves 28 hours each week on backups - Veeam Backup & Replication requires only one full backup, followed by incremental backups when needed. The other product required a full backup each week (20 hours), and then René spent an additional five to eight hours troubleshooting problems when the full backup failed.
Ensures full restore speed is consistent - The restore speed was not predictable with the previous product because it depended upon how much data had changed since the last full backup. However, the restore process speed is consistent with Veeam Backup & Replication, which is important in a disaster recovery situation.
Reduces storage space requires - Veeam’s incremental backups also save IAK ½ a terabyte in storage space. Veeam’s de-duplication and compression feature saves space too. Now René can synchronize Veeam backup storage files over a WAN connection to remote sites. Takes full advantage of VMware vSphere and vStorage API functionality - Veeam Backup & Replication leverages both thin-provisioned disks and changed block tracking for performance improvements, including faster full backups and restores and lightening -fast incremental backups.