The Business Challenge
The IT team at Isaac Agnew (Holdings) Ltd chose to virtualize with VMware for the same reasons most companies do: cost and space savings. Now approximately one-third of their environment is virtualized. They operate 50 physical servers and 20 virtual machines on several VMware ESX servers. This infrastructure supports 20 sites and roughly 800 users.
Following the virtualization rollout, the IT team realized they needed a more comprehensive and reliable backup and recovery solution. In the early days of their VMware implementation, they ran a script that copied specific sections of the file system they manually chose ahead of time and synchronized them to a backup folder.
“Even though the process took a very short time because we only backed up a subset of files, it was a bit unsettling to pick and choose what we thought was most critical to save,” explained Tim Carter, the company’s Senior Systems Administrator. “And, we could only back up files, not databases.”
In addition to an inclusive and consistent backup process, Tim and his team wanted a virtualization-specific solution that would restore their virtualized data to its original state quickly, rather than requiring them to rebuild each virtual machine. “In the past, if we had to restore, we’d have to rebuild the VM completely from a template, check its configuration, restore the software, and then copy the relevant files, resulting in a lot of late night and weekend work,” he said.
“A traditional disaster recovery product was ruled out due to the cost involved. The company would have had to purchase a license for each virtual server, and also sacrifice a percentage of each server’s operating capacity to backup agents,” explained Tim.
The Veeam Backup & Replication Solution
The Isaac Agnew IT team looked at three backup solutions. Tim said they considered Veeam Backup & Replication because they were already longtime users of Veeam FastSCP, the free file management utility. “Veeam Backup is right there in the same interface we were already using, so it was a natural decision to consider it,” he said.
In the end, they chose Veeam Backup & Replication for several key reasons. “The main reason is because it offers a much better solution for restoring either the whole VM or individual files,” he said. “The other products we looked at seemed to offer the same thing, but in reality, they required double backups—once for the whole image, and then again for the file system. This is a big waste of time and storage space and simply didn’t fit into our tight window to perform backups each night.”
While backup speed is important to Tim and his team, it’s not as important as recovery speed. “When we lost a VM in the past, we would have to rebuild it completely, and this would take too long,” he said. “Now that Veeam Backup is in place, it’s a simple matter of right-clicking ‘restore,’ and the data is recovered in minutes—no more working nights and weekends.”
Veeam Backup’s fast file-level recovery feature allows the IT team to restore individual files from the image-level backups in seconds, without having to extract the full VM image to their local drive.
A backup solution designed from the ground up for virtual servers was the right solution for Isaac Agnew (Holdings) Ltd because unlike traditional physical system backup tools that have been adapted for use in a virtual environment, Veeam Backup & Replication doesn’t require agents, which can consume a lot of system processing cycles. Instead, the Veeam product works at the hypervisor level, using the VMware API.
Backs Up Data Once, Not Twice - When Tim and his team compared virtualization backup and recovery programs, they discovered that Veeam Backup & Replication performs backups once, not twice like the others (once for the full image and then again for the file system). Veeam’s faster, more efficient process fits better into the company’s tight backup window each night.
Improves Recovery Speed by 95 percent - The previous recovery process involved Tim and his team rebuilding a VM from a template, restoring and configuring the software, and then copying the relevant files. This took multiple hours, often spilling over into the evening and weekends, which meant the company paid unnecessary overtime. Now that Veeam Backup & Replication is place, all they have to do is right-click on “restore,” and they have what they need in minutes.
Eliminates Backup Agents that Bog Down Server Performance - Traditional physical backup products deploy agents on each virtual machine, consuming precious processing resources. In addition, they require additional backup software licenses for each VM, making the expense add up quickly. Veeam Backup & Replication was designed specifically for the virtual server environment and is priced by physical CPU socket, no matter how many VMs are running.