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Europe’s Largest Regional Airline Protects Reservation System And Company Data with Veeam


Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline and the United Kingdom’s number one domestic carrier.


VM backup and recovery were slow, and restoring an email from an Exchange VM took all day


  • Backup speed doubles, enabling more frequent backups
  • Full VM recovery takes minutes
  • Individual objects from any virtualized application, including Microsoft Exchange, can be recovered quickly
  • Testing backup recoverability and vSphere upgrades is easy

The Business Challenge

Flybe’s e-commerce web site,, processes a large number of flight searches and reservations. Flybe’s IT team supports this website, the company’s internal computing services (email, file and print applications) and all employees.

Flybe’s IT infrastructure includes hundreds of virtual machines (VMs) that run the website and multiple applications, including Java applications, Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange 2010, Oracle Database and applications specifically devoted to aircraft maintenance.

“Each of these VMs is critical for day-to-day operations that drive revenue, so downtime is not an option,” said James Richards, Virtualization and Server Specialist at Flybe. “When the native backup tool we were using proved to be limited in scope, we began looking for a highly scalable backup solution that could handle hundreds of VMs, provide fast recovery options for applications like Exchange and automatically test the recoverability of backups.”

The Veeam Solution

Flybe implemented Veeam® Backup & Replication. Flybe’s IT team uses Veeam to backup production VMs daily and test VM backups weekly.

“We couldn’t perform daily backups on this many VMs in the past because backups took too long with the previous tool,” James said. “Veeam is twice as fast as that product, enabling us to backup more frequently, from weekly to daily.”

A full VM restore is much faster now too, thanks to vPower®, the patent-pending technology in Veeam that runs a VM directly from a backup file. vPower enables several unique capabilities, including Instant VM Recovery.

“Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery is amazing,” James said. “When there was a problem with one of the VMs that runs an important aircraft maintenance application, I kicked off Instant VM Recovery and users were able to access the application within minutes. Then I transferred the VM from the Veeam NFS storage to our SAN storage with the application still running, and users never knew the difference.”

Instant VM Recovery enables James and his colleagues to restart a failed VM directly from a compressed and deduplicated backup file on regular backup storage, eliminating the need to extract the backup and copy it to production storage. Members of Flybe’s IT team also use Veeam to gain instant visibility into their Exchange backups. They can browse, search and selectively restore items directly from backups of their Exchange VMs

“Before Veeam, the whole database had to be staged to disk before it could be opened; then we retrieved individual items and restored them to a user’s mailbox,” James said. “This took more than one workday to complete. With Veeam, it takes less than five minutes.”

James and his colleagues also rely on Veeam to automatically test the recoverability of backups and to test vSphere upgrades.

“With SureBackup® recovery verification, I review the logs and see that applications were successfully booted from the backup the night before,” he said. “It is very reassuring to know these backups are successful. It’s also reassuring to know that vSphere upgrades will be successful. With Veeam’s On-demand Sandbox, we can test upgrades before upgrading production servers. We used Veeam in this way when we upgraded from vSphere 4.1 to 5.0, and we’ll use it again when we upgrade to 5.1.”

Veeam proved to be especially helpful when the IT team consolidated two datacenters in Finland following an acquisition.

“We used Veeam to replicate 60 VMs from one datacenter to another,” James said. “Veeam helped make the process of shutting down a VM in one datacenter and bringing it up in the other datacenter fast and easy. Veeam made a complex task quick, simple and risk-free.”

Veeam also plays an important role in ongoing replication between datacenters in the UK. “We use storage-based replication and vCenter Site Recovery Manager between our UK datacenters. But we still need backups,” explained James. “Veeam is great for backing up a large number of VMs. Together, Veeam and SRM provide complete data protection.”

In 2011, Flybe won the award for best virtualization for disaster recovery project at VMworld Europe, based on its use of Veeam Backup & Replication.

The Results

Backup speed doubles, enabling more frequent backups
Veeam Backup & Replication performs VM backups twice as fast as Flybe’s previous backup tool. Since the backup timeframe decreased significantly, the IT team performs more frequent backups of critical VMs.

Full VM recovery takes minutes
Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery lets Flybe’s IT team restore an entire machine from a backup in minutes. From the time the team learned about a problem with a VM that runs an aircraft maintenance application until employees were able to access the application took mere minutes.

Individual objects from any virtualized application, including Microsoft Exchange, can be recovered quickly
Item-level recovery with Veeam is much faster than Flybe’s previous backup tool. Before Veeam was implemented, the IT team spent at least one day restoring Exchange items for employees. With Veeam, it takes minutes.

Testing backup recoverability and vSphere upgrades is easy
Flybe’s IT team uses Veeam to automatically test the recoverability of backups. The team also uses Veeam to test vSphere upgrades in an isolated virtual lab, prior to performing upgrades in production.

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