The Business Challenge
Aalborg Portland Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. has specialised in the manufacturing and international distribution of white portland cement for more than a quarter of a century in Malaysia. White portland cement is characterised by its whiteness, uniform composition and performance and its suitability in any application that requires premium whiteness and strength.
As one of the leading white cement producers and distributors in the world, Aalborg Portland Malaysia has invested in modern technologies to support their manufacturing operations. Aalborg Portland Malaysia was one of the earliest adopters of virtualisation and Veeam® Backup & Replication™ in Southeast Asia.
While most companies watched their hardware investments soar in their growing physical server environments, Aalborg Portland Malaysia chose the cost-effective approach of virtualising critical applications and databases including Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs). However, Aalborg Portland Malaysia did not initially choose a backup tool that complemented VMware vSphere or made the most of virtualisation.
“Creating VMware vSphere VMs was fairly simple and straightforward, but backing them up was not simple and straightforward because our backup tool had certain requirements,” said Raymond Lok, Senior IT Executive at Aalborg Portland Malaysia. “Each VM needed agents installed before it could be backed up, and that was timeconsuming. We also had to make sure backup storage size matched VM size before backup could begin. There was an even bigger limitation. Our backup tool was incapable of restoring data from backups made with earlier versions of the tool.”
Aalborg Portland Malaysia business operations can’t stop for hours while a failed VM is restored.
“In order for our company to maintain operations, our users need access to data all day, every day,” Lok said. “It would have been crazy to wait two to three hours while a previous version of our backup tool was reinstalled so we could recover backups. We needed a backup solution that kept pace with virtualisation. We needed a backup solution that simplified recovery.”
The Veeam Solution
In 2009 Aalborg Portland Malaysia replaced its backup tool with Veeam Backup & Replication. Veeam leverages server virtualisation and modern data storage to deliver fast, flexible and reliable recovery of applications and data. As an early adopter of Veeam Backup & Replication, Lok has watched Veeam Software reinvent data protection and pioneer availability for VMware vSphere (and Microsoft Hyper-V).
“Our first experience with Veeam was downloading a free trial version,” Lok said. “We were immediately impressed and purchased a licensed version—version 4. Since then, every new version has been easy and straightforward to download and use. We downloaded the latest version of Veeam one week after it was GA. To this day, we’ve never had to contact Veeam’s technical support. Best of all, each new version of Veeam simplifies recovery.”
When Lok began using Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam was the first to support VMware vSphere functionality, which was new at the time. Veeam took full advantage of the VMware vStorage API, enabling faster backup and restore than other backup tools. Fast recovery is still key for Aalborg Portland Malaysia because it helps the company maintain productivity.
Today Lok’s favorite recovery features are Instant VM Recovery®, which lets him restart a failed VM from a regular backup in minutes, and Veeam Explorer™, which gives him instant visibility into backups and the ability to recover individual items quickly.
“Instant VM Recovery and Veeam Explorer for SQL Server have saved the day for us,” Lok explained. “Right before Christmas in 2014, the VM running our HR management system failed. Within a few minutes I restored the VM from a backup so HR could finish payroll before the holiday. No users were affected, and everyone was paid on time. A week later, one of the VMs running SQL became corrupted. I used Veeam Explorer to restore SQL tables from the database; users were only required to key in data for the day after the last backup.”
Lok has more favorite features. Reverse incremental backup ensures the most recent restore point is a full backup, and it gets updated after every backup cycle. Plus, reverse incremental backup doesn’t require massive backup storage. Gone are the days when Lok had to be sure that backup storage matched the size of the VM to be backed up.
“Between reverse incremental backup and short backup intervals, which produce more restore points, we know our users have access to the data they need all day, every day,” Lok said. “Veeam helps us maintain business operations 24x7, and with that comes a high level of trust. We’re preparing to virtualise our last application, which happens to be our most critical application—it controls our manufacturing processes and monitors our manufacturing machinery. The reason we’re virtualising it is because we trust Veeam to protect it.”
The ResultsConsistently simplifies and speeds recovery with each iteration
In 2009 Aalborg Portland Malaysia replaced its legacy backup tool with Veeam Backup & Replication and reduced file-level recovery time from hours to minutes. Since then, Aalborg Portland Malaysia has come to trust Veeam’s evolution and development, and the company has come to rely on Instant VM Recovery and Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server. Both features “saved the day” within one week’s time in 2014.Scales easily to keep pace with data growth
Every two years, data grows by approximately 10% at Aalborg Portland Malaysia, and Veeam scales accordingly. Today the company backs up 1.2TB of data. VMs in Kuala Lumpur are backed up on site to an external hard disk, and VMs in Ipoh are backed up on site to an HP StoreVirtual storage appliance. The company’s next step is to replicate VMs between sites for disaster recovery (DR).Reduces the risk of data loss and improves availability
Aalborg Portland Malaysia combines reverse incremental backup with shorter backup intervals (every 15 to 30 minutes) to increase the number of the recovery points for critical systems.