The business challenge
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Therefore,
organizations around the world are looking for ways to transform the global energy
system and reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
One of the pioneers in this area is Greenchoice, a Netherlands-based renewable
energy company. Its mission is to provide 100% green energy for a cleaner world
by sourcing energy generated from the sun, wind and biomass. Since 2016, all this
energy is exclusively produced in the Netherlands. The company also supplies
natural gas to its customers and invests in reforestation projects around the world
to compensate for CO2 emissions from gas consumption. In addition to delivering
renewable energy, Greenchoice offers its customers the opportunity to generate
their own energy by investing in ownership of solar panels and windmills, along with
helping customers create energy cooperatives.
The demand for sustainable energy has increased considerably, especially in recent
years. Therefore, Greenchoice now supplies more than 550,000 households,
companies and public institutions in the Netherlands. “We also see enormous growth
in our IT,” said Carlo Kleinloog, Network System Engineer at Greenchoice. “The volume
of data is increasing by around 50% every year and the numerous applications for our
customers and employees require ever more performance and higher Availability.”
As an energy supplier, Greenchoice cannot compromise on uptime. The company
pursues an “always on” strategy and must ensure that IT solutions are working
reliably around the clock. For example, without its smart metering system
Greenchoice would not be able to accurately measure and bill its customers for their
electricity consumption. The company’s energy traders need access to real-time
market information to buy sustainable energy for customers at the best price.
Greenchoice’s support teams also must be able to communicate with customers
around the clock so that technical issues can be solved as quickly as possible.
However, a big challenge for the IT department was that the existing solution for
backup and restore of its IT systems was error-prone and complex to operate. “The
recovery of individual files or failed servers often took hours. If the backup had not
run correctly, we had to rebuild entire systems from scratch,” said Kleinloog.
As the IT infrastructure was migrated to two georedundant data centers,
Greenchoice was looking for a new, more reliable data management solution.
Greenchoice wanted to maximize the Availability of its business applications and
minimize ongoing backup and recovery efforts. The solution should also support
hybrid cloud scenarios and be able to back up Office 365 data from the Microsoft
cloud to the on-premises infrastructure.
The Veeam solution
After an extensive product test, Greenchoice decided to manage and protect its data
with Veeam® Availability Suite™. “We were impressed by the capabilities of the solution
right from the start,” said Kleinloog. “In addition to the ease of use, our team was
particularly enthusiastic about the fast recovery of IT resources. In our business, every
minute counts — for example, when it comes to energy trading. Even a short outage can
have enormous consequences for us since electricity prices are so volatile today. With
Veeam, we could restore a failed trading system from the backup within minutes.”
Another important factor in the decision was the seamless integration with ExaGrid’s
Intelligent Hyperconverged Storage technology. The company implemented the
Veeam solution together with two ExaGrid appliances at the separate data center
sites. Cross-replication between the two sites allows for full redundancy. With
this solution, Greenchoice can very efficiently back up its entire VMware vSphere
infrastructure with around 200 virtual machines and a total data volume of 300 TB.
Both Veeam and ExaGrid systems are designed from the ground up to protect
virtualized environments and provide deduplication as backups are taken. The
combination of ExaGrid’s and Veeam’s deduplication technology achieved a
compression rate of approximately 4:1, reducing storage requirements by 75%.
“The technologies from Veeam and ExaGrid complement each other perfectly,”
confirmed Kleinloog. “Backups run five to six times faster than before, and the
administration, reporting and monitoring tasks are now largely automated.”
Greenchoice estimates that the IT department saves at least 20 hours per week that
were previously required for the management of backup and recovery.
The Veeam solution also makes it easier for Greenchoice to cope with rapid business
growth. Thanks to ExaGrid’s scale-out architecture, it is now possible to add
additional appliances to the virtual resource pool at any time via plug-and-play.
“From a business perspective, the most important thing about the Veeam solution is
that our customers can really rely on the Availability of our data and services,” states
Kleinloog. “Sensitive data, such as the exact energy consumption figures of our
customers, are fully protected against loss. If a backup problem should occur, we
receive an automatic notification and can react immediately.”
The joint solution also helps Greenchoice meet compliance requirements as an
energy provider. Once a year, an external audit reviews the risk prevention and
data loss protection measures. With Veeam Availability Suite and ExaGrid, the IT
department can document that the required disaster recovery tests have been
performed and prove that the backups were successful for any given point in time.
Today, critical databases and file servers are backed up every five minutes — “that’s
only possible since the switch to Veeam and ExaGrid,” said Kleinloog.
Based on the positive experience with the solution, Greenchoice is already planning
the next step. The company decided to use Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365
in the future. The company’s employees are currently switching to Exchange Online,
SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business and will therefore store a lot of data in the
Microsoft cloud in the future. “With Veeam, we can also back up this data in our data
center and store it for as long as our business requires,” concludes Kleinloog. “That’s how
we achieve a seamless transition to the cloud — without compromising data Availability.”
- Reliable service for 550,000 customers:
More than half a million homes and businesses today use sustainable energy from
Greenchoice. The solutions from Veeam and ExaGrid help the company reliably
provide all related customer services, from smart metering to technical support.
- Support for rapid business growth:
The demand for sustainable energy is currently increasing enormously. With Veeam
and ExaGrid, Greenchoice ensures that IT can keep pace with business development.
The combined deduplication technologies from Veeam and ExaGrid reduced the
storage requirements by 75%. Backup processes today are five to six times faster
than with the previous solution. And the IT department reduced the time required for
backup management by more than 20 hours per week.
- Compliance with regulations for energy providers:
With Veeam, Greenchoice can prove at any time that data backups have been
successful and that business data is fully protected from loss. The solution
can also be used to document disaster recovery tests. With this evidence,
Greenchoice is well prepared for external audits.