The business challenge
“Shaping the future. Together” is the motto of DATEV eG. The cooperative was founded in 1966 and its headquarters are located in Nuremberg. DATEV eG supports tax consultants, auditors and lawyers in the exercise of their profession and promotes their economic success. To this end, the organization offers its approximately 40,000 members and their clients A wide range of software applications and services. The range of services includes, above all, accounting, human resources management, business management consulting, taxes, office organization, enterprise resource planning (ERP), It services, and training and consulting.
A few figures illustrate the importance of DATEV for business life in Germany: Every month around 13.5 million wage and salary statements are created with DATEV software. Accounting data from 2.5 million organizations are stored in the DATEV data center. In addition, DATEV provides around 665,000 documents on the topics of taxes, economics and law in its databases.
“Fast, secure and reliable access to digital information is more important than ever in today’s networked economy,” says Jochen Leistner, Team Leader Backup & zStorage at DATEV. “But many tax consultancies and law firms no longer want to take care of the operation of their It systems and business applications themselves. That’s why we now offer our clients tailor-made outsourcing packages in addition to our software”.
Almost 6,000 tax consultants, auditors and lawyers already use these cloud sourcing offers today and have individual business applications or their complete It operated by DATEV. The customers’ servers then run in the DATEV cloud, which consists of several ISO 27001-certified data centers located in Germany.
DATEV also assumes responsibility for It security and data protection for these customers and guarantees — depending on the contract model — A server availability of at least 99 % . Failures of customer systems or loss of data could have considerable consequences for the customers and their clients: “If companies are unable to submit their tax returns to the tax office in time, they may face heavy penalties. And without A functioning payroll system, thousands of employees would, in the worst case, have to wait for their monthly income,” says Leistner.
The service provider’s cloud sourcing infrastructure depends on A backup solution that reliably backs up all customer data and enables rapid recovery of It applications in the event of A failure. The software originally used for this purpose reached its limits at some point, as it was not actually developed for virtual environments. As A result, backup and recovery processes became increasingly complex and time-consuming.
DATEV was therefore looking for A future-proof solution for protecting customer environments. “The solution had to be multi-tenant capable, enable self-services and support different hypervisor and storage architectures,” says Jochen Leistner, outlining the requirement profile. “In addition, good scalability was A decisive factor: our customer environments comprise A total of more than 10,000 virtual machines with A storage volume of around 15 petabytes.
The Veeam solution
The challenging task quickly narrowed down the selection of possible providers. After intensive testing, DATEV finally decided to use Veeam Availability Suite to protect its cloud sourcing infrastructure. “In addition to the powerful functions of the solution and the good integration with VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, the great commitment of Veeam really impressed us,” says Jochen Leistner. “The manufacturer’s technical experts worked with us to develop A solution architecture that we could use to handle the large number of VMs and the enormous data volume very well.”
Instead of implementing A central Veeam solution for the entire environment, the company opted for A modular concept. Separate Veeam Backup & Replication servers with directly connected backup repositories are set up for A certain number of virtual machines. For performance reasons, DATEV uses Microsoft’s Resilient File Systems (ReFS), which reduces the IO requirements for Veeam backup streams by more than 50 % and enables very efficient storage usage. The backup data is stored — encrypted throughout — on block storage systems from Hitachi.
“With this ‘building block concept’ we can scale our environment very flexibly — and at the same time ensure very stable and high-performance operation,” explains Leistner. “Thanks to the monitoring functions of Veeam ONE, which we combine with our own management tools, we are simultaneously able to monitor and control the entire environment centrally.”
The Veeam solution makes it much easier for DATEV to maintain guaranteed availability and response times for all customers. Today, failed customer servers can be made available again within minutes thanks to the Instant VM Recovery technology from Veeam. In the past, DATEV’s technical staff often had to spend several hours on this.
Graduated administrator rights of the Veeam solution additionally improve the operational efficiency. Restores of accidentally deleted files can be handled directly by first-level support. A self-service restore for customers is also possible. “This approach helps us to keep the backup and recovery processes in our cloud sourcing offerings as lean as possible,” says Leistner.
The backup and storage expert also appreciate the use of Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server: “Most DATEV applications are based on SQL Server — and we also host our customers’ Exchange environments as part of our cloud sourcing offers. It therefore saves us A lot of time if the helpdesk staff can granularly restore individual email mailboxes or database objects.”
DATEV sees A lot of potential in the solution for the future. In the next step, the cooperative also wants to protect its internal It for around 8,000 employees with Veeam Availability Suite. “The beauty of the Veeam solution is that we can solve very different requirements via A central platform,” says Jochen Leistner. “It doesn’t matter whether it ’s disaster recovery or filebased restores — and it doesn’t matter whether we use VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V: We now have A central availability solution for all tasks.”
- Highly available provision of 15 petabytes of customer data:
Business processes in nearly 6,000 tax consultancies, law firms and many associated companies depend on the availability of the DATEV cloud sourcing environment. The Veeam solution helps the It service provider to efficiently protect the enormous data volume of 15 petabytes and to reliably provide access to all business applications.
- Recovery in minutes instead of hours:
With Veeam, DATEV is able to restart each virtual machine directly from the backup after A failure. Restores of several hours are A thing of the past — Instant VM Recovery reduces the recovery time to A few minutes. This means that even strict service level agreements (SLAs) can be easily met.
- Easy expansion of the cloud sourcing business:
Lean administrative processes, high performance data backup and the good scalability of the solution architecture make it easier for DATEV to keep pace with business growth. At the same time Veeam technology helps optimally utilize storage and network capacities, thus keeping costs under control.