Falkirk Council standardizes data protection and reduces cybersecurity risks with Veeam

You can’t deliver today’s and tomorrow’s projects with yesterday’s technologies. When we needed backup and recovery for Microsoft 365, we deployed Veeam. When it was time to virtualize our servers, migrate them to a new data center and protect them, Veeam supported that too. And when we needed backup immutability faor ransomware protection, Veeam helped us again.
Murat Dilek
Network, Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Team Leader
Falkirk Council

The Business Challenge

Falkirk Council delivers a wide range of government services to approximately 73,000 households across 112 square miles. Services include housing, social care, transportation, environmental management and education in 55 primary schools and eight high schools.

To meet the needs of every resident, Falkirk Council embarked on a hybrid cloud and modern workspace project that aligned with the Scottish government’s cloud-first initiative. The goal was a comprehensive digital transformation, and one of the first steps was deploying Microsoft 365.

“One of our first challenges was choosing the best solution to protect data in Microsoft 365,” said Murat Dilek, Network, Infrastructure and Cybersecurity Team Leader at Falkirk Council. “Roughly 3,500 employees use Microsoft Exchange Online, Microsoft SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams to communicate and collaborate on services impacting our residents. Maintaining access and control of this data is critical to our success.”

Dilek and his teammates considered three data protection solutions including Veeam® Backup for Microsoft 365. Their goal was cost-effective, easy-to- manage backup and recovery to protect all data, including historical data.

“Microsoft’s data retention policies didn’t meet our business needs,” he said. “If employees need fast access to data, we need to ensure they have it, so we deployed Veeam.”

Following the Microsoft 365 deployment, the IT team began the next step of its digital transformation — a physical-to-virtual (P2V) project. The council had been backing up 600 physical machines to disk and tape, so the plan was to virtualize many of them and move the files to a new data center. However, the legacy backup solution wasn’t hardware agnostic (or cost-effective), so it wouldn’t support the P2V project.

“Our ultimate goal was standardizing data protection across the IT infrastructure, so the obvious choice was Veeam Backup & Replication™ for our virtual and physical machines,” Dilek said. “Veeam met every requirement — it’s affordable, hardware agnostic, simple to manage and provides ransomware protection. Veeam also offers portable licenses so we can back up any workload anywhere. As it turned out, Veeam even enabled our P2V project by backing up our physical machines and replicating them to virtual machines in the new data center, saving us one headache after another. Can you imagine unplugging servers, putting them on a lorry and driving them to a new data center while trying to avoid potholes?”

The Veeam Solution

Veeam standardizes data protection across Falkirk Council’s hybrid cloud IT infrastructure and increases ransomware resilience with immutable backups in cloud object storage. Veeam also supports compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and accelerates the council’s digital transformation.

“Veeam is a winner,” Dilek said. “It accelerated our digital transformation and played a pivotal role in our data center migration. We couldn’t have accomplished what we accomplished without Veeam.”

Veeam backs up 225 TB of Microsoft 365 data to cloud storage. Veeam also backs up 70 TB of data across 200 virtual machines (Microsoft Hyper-V and Nutanix AHV) and 400 physical machines to Nutanix Mine Storage. Veeam tiers backups to cloud object storage for immutability.

“Immutable backups ensure our data is immune from accidental or intentional deletion and alteration,” Dilek said. “Immutability is essential for local governments like ours because we are more at risk for cyberattacks than typical businesses. Our data includes residents’ personal information, making us a particular target for ransomware. Cybercriminals demand ransom for personal information because if local governments don’t pay, they risk reputational damage.”

The number of local governments hit by ransomware increased by 70% between 2020 and 2021 according to an independent, vendor-agnostic survey of IT professionals in mid-sized organizations across 31 countries. Local governments also reported one of the highest rates of data encryption (72%) following an attack. Respondents across sectors said backups are the number one method used to restore data.

“We all know backups are the last line of defense in a ransomware attack, so my advice is to make them immutable,” Dilek said. “We make them immutable in cloud object storage, which supports GDPR compliance too.”

Veeam supports GDPR compliance in additional ways. Veeam SureBackup® and SureReplica verify the recoverability of backups and replicas, and Instant VM Recovery® recovers them in minutes.

“Recovery is always important, especially when data is historical,” Dilek said.

“During the first week we deployed Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, council employees needed access to historical emails. Veeam had backed them up, so we restored them quickly. If employees had made that same request two weeks earlier, we wouldn’t have had access to those emails and our services might have been impacted.”

The Results

Standardizes data protection across Falkirk Council’s hybrid cloud infrastructure
“You can’t deliver today’s and tomorrow’s projects with yesterday’s technologies,” Dilek said. “When we needed backup and recovery for Microsoft 365, we deployed Veeam. When it was time to virtualize our servers, migrate them to a new data center and protect them, Veeam supported that too. And when we needed backup immutability for ransomware protection, Veeam helped us again.”

Increases ransomware resilience with immutability in cloud object storage “Veeam elevated our cybersecurity operation with immutable backups in cloud object storage
Dilek said. “We’re able to protect against malicious encryption and deletion of data.”

Supports compliance with GDPR and accelerates council’s digital transformation
“Immutable backups help us comply with regulatory requirements too,” Dilek said. “Veeam supported every step of our digital transformation.”

Company:

The Falkirk Council provides local government services for 160,000 residents living in the central lowlands of Scotland. Established in 1996 and based in Larbert, Falkirk Council employs 8,000 people, including 3,000 educators and administrators.

Challenge:

In addition to providing traditional government services including social care and transportation, Falkirk Council owns and manages approximately 25% of the region’s housing and administers primary and secondary education for more than 30,000 students. To ensure residents’ needs are always met, the council embarked on a digital transformation. The challenge was standardizing data protection across the new hybrid cloud infrastructure. Without secure, reliable backup and recovery, council services could be at risk.

Results:

  • Standardizes data protection across Falkirk Council’s hybrid cloud IT infrastructure
  • Increases ransomware resilience with immutable backups in cloud object storage
  • Supports compliance with GDPR and accelerates the council’s digital transformation