North Macedonia has undergone considerable economic reform since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. The economy is growing consistently, thanks in part to the Development Bank of North Macedonia supporting businesses’ financial needs. As the only development bank in the country, its work is critical. When COVID-19 hit, its work became even more critical.
The bank provided interest-free loans to approximately 1,400 micro, small and medium-sized domestic businesses between the start of the pandemic in March 2020 through the middle of the pandemic in September. The loan application process, which is nearly 100% electronic, is supported by the bank’s IT infrastructure.
“I can’t express how critical these systems are to our internal processes and the ability to make a difference in economic development,” said Gorgi Kokinovski, IT Division Manager at the Development Bank of North Macedonia. “If they’re not available, we can’t support our clients, and if we can’t support our clients, their businesses might fail.”
Kokinovski said the legacy backup solution wasn’t able to meet the bank’s needs at the beginning of 2020. Backup and recovery were slow, unreliable and complicated, making it difficult to provide adequate data protection. In addition, there was no way to verify the recoverability of backups, and recovering individual items such as emails was nearly impossible.
Kokinovski contacted local IT solution providers for advice and improvement ideas, and they recommended Veeam® Backup Essentials™. He also opted to send backup copies to a local cloud provider to enable Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS). His goal was to strengthen the bank’s business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) strategy. Before deploying Veeam and DRaaS, the bank worked closely with the National Bank of the Republic of North Macedonia to confirm both solutions comply with the country’s regulatory requirements, and they do.
“We learned two things,” Kokinovski said. “The entire IT community recognizes Veeam as the best availability solution on the market and adding DRaaS was the best decision we could have made. Since the pandemic began our client base has nearly tripled. Business continuity has never been more critical to the economy.”
Veeam supports economic development in North Macedonia by strengthening the bank’s BCDR strategy. Veeam enables DRaaS, increases backup and recovery speeds by 75%, supports the 3-2-1 Rule and easily accommodates a 160% increase in applications for financial support during COVID-19.
“We’re the first bank in the country to add DRaaS for business continuity,” Kokinovski said. “When you see the business value Veeam delivers, the decision to deploy it is easy and obvious.”
Kokinovski said Veeam ensures critical IT systems are always available so the IT team can be more forward focused. Veeam ensures availability by verifying the recoverability of backups (SureBackup®), restoring virtual machines (VMs) in minutes (Instant VM Recovery®) and restoring individual e-mails in seconds (Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange).
“Availability is always critical to the bank, but during a pandemic when quick delivery is really important, being able to quickly deliver made a difference,” Kokinovski said.
The bank has provided more than €13.5 million in interest-free loans to domestic businesses affected by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the bank was not directly focused on domestic companies and was providing support to the private sector through local commercial banks, resulting in a small number of direct clients. During the pandemic, the number of direct clients increased by 160% quickly.
“Veeam easily accommodates the increase in loan applications and data, helping us provide the financial support our clients need,” Kokinovski said. “Veeam is the most intuitive software I’ve used.”
Veeam backs up 3.2 TB across 10 Microsoft Hyper-V VMs on-premises to network-attached storage for fast, local recovery and to a tape library to follow the 3-2-1 Rule. Veeam also sends a backup copy off-premises to a local cloud provider, so the provider can provide DRaaS if needed.
“Veeam is impressive, and it’s even more impressive with each new version,” Kokinovski said. “Instant VM Recovery is one of my favorite features, so I can’t wait to try Multi-VM Instant Recovery. It will be very helpful if we experience a massive data center outage. Veeam makes life easier, so I would recommend it.”
The Development Bank of North Macedonia provides loans, investment credits and export insurance to small and mediumsized businesses. Established by Parliament in 1998 and based in Skopje, the bank’s mission is to stimulate economic development and increase the export of goods and services.
The Development Bank of North Macedonia had impeccable timing replacing its proprietary backup solution with Veeam Backup Essentials. Veeam proved beneficial during COVID-19 when the bank had to electronically process and quickly deliver interest-free loans to micro, small and medium-sized domestic businesses for liquidity purposes. From March to September 2020, the bank’s client base increased by 160%.