The business challenge
From components for the automotive industry and aviation to winter sports equipment, a wide variety of different things are produced with solutions from the mechanical engineering company, Fill. The company, with its headquarters in Gurten, is among other things, global number 1 in ski and snowboard machines. 3.2 million pairs of alpine skis, 800,000 snowboards and 1.6 million pairs of cross-country skis are produced annually with machines from the Austrian company. At the same time, every third car in the world today is equipped with parts produced on fill lines, such as cylinder heads and body components.
To maintain its position as market and innovation leader in very different industries and markets around the world, Fill has to continuously evolve and adapt to customer requirements. A high degree of automation, the consistent digitalization of production lines and intelligent control systems which provide the foundation for all its processes are key factors for the company’s success.
Virtual and physical processes are increasingly merging together in Fill’s smart manufacturing. This also means that more and more data and applications must be reliably available around the clock. This was no longer possible for Fill’s IT organization to manage with internal resources alone.
“We are a special-purpose machine manufacturer, not an IT company,” says Helmut Wagner, team leader for information technology at Fill. „At some point, our department reached its limits when it came to data backup. The configuration of the backup jobs, the administration and maintenance of the infrastructure and the necessary recovery tests took up more and more time. In addition, it is simply not possible to guarantee 100 percent reliability with limited personnel. Even a small mistake can lead to a loss of data which, in the worst case, can endanger the existence of the company”.
The IT managers at Fill were therefore looking for a suitable Backupas- a-Service (BaaS) model. The aim was not only to protect the most important business systems, but also to ensure rapid recovery of resources in the event of a total failure of the Fill data center. The company did not want to set up and operate its own outage data center, but rather to obtain the required server, storage and network capacities as a flexible service in the event of a disaster.
The Veeam solution
After a market analysis, Fill finally chose the IT service provider Infotech EDV-Systeme and a Cloud Data Management solution from Veeam. “The overall package from Infotech and Veeam convinced us from the very beginning,” explains Wagner. “Infotech combines a great deal of technological know-how with proven service competence and is also located just a few kilometers from our headquarters. And Veeam, in our opinion, offers the most mature solutions for ensuring high availability of physical, virtual and cloud-based workloads.”
Infotech initially implemented Veeam Backup & Replication at Fill to protect the virtualized server infrastructure based on VMware vSphere. Today, more than 150 virtual machines — including numerous business-critical applications such as the ERP system, CAD/CAM software or applications for simulation and industrial IoT — are automatically backed up with Veeam technology. Veeam Cloud Connect always transfers copies of the backup files to the service provider’s data center.
Failed virtual machines can be restarted within minutes directly from the backup with Instant VM Recovery. This avoids interruptions to ongoing production processes. Granular recovery of individual application objects is also possible. With the Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server, Infotech can, for example, reset databases to a specific point in time with transaction accuracy — extremely helpful for systems that manage important production data.
With the Backup-as-a-Service solution from Infotech and Veeam, Fill can be sure that its IT resources are reliably backed up at all times. Veeam’s SureBackup technology automatically checks the recoverability of all backed up systems. Infotech also evaluates the log files and reports of the Veeam solution on a daily basis. In case of error messages, Fill and Infotech are immediately notified by e-mail alert. “Responsibilities are clearly defined in this case”, says Wagner. “Infotech then immediately identifies the cause of the error and takes care of a solution.”
Together with the service provider, Fill also developed a comprehensive disaster recovery strategy. The first step was to define the applications that are absolutely necessary for production operation. In a realistic disaster recovery test, the project partners then examined how long it would take to make all these systems available again in the event of a disaster.
“The result was very revealing for us,” reports Wagner. “The manual recovery of our most important services took more than 24 hours. However, with Veeam, we will be able to significantly reduce this figure in the future.”
Fill and Infotech will use Veeam Availability Orchestrator for optimized disaster recovery. This solution enables perfect orchestration of IT system recovery from backups and replicas. Servers are automatically restored and restarted in the optimal order. Ready-to-use scripts for services such as Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory or SQL databases accelerate the recovery of individual applications. In addition, Availability Orchestrator can also use Instant VM Recovery technology to restart systems directly from backup files.
“If there is a disruption, we expect all business-critical systems to be up and running again within 4-5 hours,” estimates the Wagner. “This means that even in the event of a total failure of our data center, we would be able to resume production for our customers within a very short time.
The Veeam Availability Orchestrator also offers the possibility of regularly testing the disaster recovery strategy — without putting a strain on the production systems. The results of these tests are documented in detail using the integrated reporting functions. Thus, Fill always has up-to-date proof in its hands that adequate risk management is in place.
“We are completely satisfied with the backup and disaster recovery services,” summarizes Wagner. “In the next step we will therefore also back up our Microsoft Office 365 data with Veeam in the Infotech data center. In the future we also want to integrate our PCs and notebooks into the backup service. In this way, we will ensure that the availability of our IT is consistently protected from the client to the cloud”.
- Reduction of the disaster recovery time to a few hours
Fill anticipates that in the event of a disaster, the recovery of the most important IT systems would only take four to five hours instead of more than a day as before. As a result, production operations could be restarted very quickly, and any potential loss of revenue would be minimized.
- Protection against data loss and interruptions to production processes
All important applications and data — from CAD/CAM software to Office 365 data — are reliably backed up with Veeam’s Cloud Data Management Platform. Failed virtual machines can be restored within minutes before production processes at Fill are affected.
- More resources for digital transformation into a smart factory
The BaaS and DRaaS model relieves the IT department of most operational activities related to backup, restore and disaster recovery planning. This leaves more time for innovative projects such as Industrial IoT, smart manufacturing processes and the further digitalization of the business.