Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) envisions a world with abundant wetlands and waterfowl. Since its founding more than 80 years ago, the organization has completed nearly 12,000 projects and conserved and influenced a total163.5 million acres. Despite this progress, Canada is losing wetlands at an alarming rate.
More than 70% of wetlands have been lost in settled areas, DUC reports. According to Natural Resources Canada, wetlands account for only 14% of total land mass. “Everyone at DUC is working hard to improve those percentages, including the IT team,” said Raj Perumal, Chief Information Officer at Ducks Unlimited Canada. “We decided to focus on conservation technology.”
Perumal said the challenge was finding time to focus on conservation technology. “The IT team spent too much time each week resolving problems caused by unreliable backup, leaving little time for innovation. They were frustrated they couldn’t spend more time adding value to the organization, but we found a way and we made history
DUC replaced legacy backup with a Cloud Data Management solution based around Veeam® Availability Suite™. “Veeam gave us the time we needed to focus on our many IT conservation technology related projects,” Perumal said. “Veeam doesn’t require as much time as our previous products because it’s fast, flexible and easy to use, giving us time to transform the IT department from a cost center to a fundraising center. Our conservation technology projects have enabled us to raise $250,000 the first year.”
The IT team asked several organizations to support the project and nearly all said yes, including the Royal Bank of Canada. It provided a $100,000 grant to pilot 25 sensors in wetlands across the country. The sensors use aspects of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning to monitor temperature, humidity, water level and soil conditions. Data is sent in real time to DUC, who use it in research and predictive analytics.
“Collecting wetland data was a manual process before we deployed sensors,” Perumal said. “By automating data retrieval, we can give our team instant access to the information they need to make decisions that will save endangered species, improve water cleanliness and prevent flooding.”
Data is precious at DUC. It provides insight to help the organization meet its mission of conserving, restoring and managing wetlands. “We take data management very seriously,” Perumal said. “That’s why we moved to a private-cloud, data-center model. Veeam is the leader in backup solutions delivering Cloud Data Management, enabling us to protect all workloads — cloud, virtual and physical. Data is available whenever we need it for research and analytics. Veeam supports Intelligent Data Management.”
The IT team was so impressed with Veeam that it also deployed Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows to back up hundreds of laptops in the field, as well as Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 to maintain access and control of historical information in Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint. “We worried about losing historical data before we transitioned to Office 365, but Veeam alleviated that worry. We have backups at our fingertips,” Perumal said. “That’s awesome from a data standpoint because we retain 30 years’ worth — a total of 2 petabytes and growing.”
DUC retains several types of data, including geographical, research and legal. “Why do we need 30 years’ worth?” Perumal asked. “Our effect on the planet is one reason. To understand the effect humans have had on wetlands, we analyze decades of geographical and research data. Another reason is our land management program. We purchase land to restore a wetland back to a functioning state and put an easement on the land before selling it. The new owners are legally bound to maintain the land in the conserved state, but if they fail to, we need to be aware of it by accessing our geographic and legal data. Everything I’ve described requires Intelligent Data Management, which Veeam makes simple and easy.”
Perumal said Veeam makes saving money simple and easy too. “If we hadn’t deployed Veeam, we’d have had to hire a full-time person to manage backup. When you combine that salary with money saved on third-party technical support services — because northing was simple and easy with legacy backup — the total is nearly $200,000 each year.”
Perumal said saving nearly $200,000 each year is awesome for a nonprofit organization and so is raising $250,000 in funding. “When you work for a nonprofit, there’s only so much you can do with the budgetary allotment you’re given. Veeam helps us save money and raise money, and we are so grateful.”
Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the national leader in wetland and waterfowl conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, nonprofit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands critical to waterfowl, wildlife and people. Established in 1938 and headquartered in Manitoba, DUC has over 400 employees and 126,000 supporters including 5,600 volunteers.
The IT team spent many hours each week troubleshooting legacy backup and restoration tasks because it was slow and unreliable. The team was frustrated it had no extra time to work on innovative projects that could add value to the organization.