Producing healthy food of the highest quality has been Interquell’s business for a long time. The family-owned company, headquartered in Wehringen, a municipality near Augsburg in Bavaria, can look back on a company history of more than 250 years. The Müller family’s first flour mill began operations back in 1765. And today, with its Interquell cereals business unit, the company keeps supplying refined cereal products to the food industry.
In 1965, a second major business area was added to Intrquell. Using new techniques and machinery, the company developed the first complete dry dog food. Today, with its Happy Dog, Happy Cat, Goood and FischFit brands, Interquell petfood belongs to Europe’s leading manufacturers of dry pet food. The company’s premium products are now supplied to 75 countries and available on four continents.
Hence, Interquell’s facilities operate around the clock. The company produces up to 320 tons of pet food every day. In order to guarantee the consistent quality of its products, Interquell has invested not only in state-of-the-art machine technology, but also in advanced IT. “Most of our production is now controlled digitally,” said Klaus Gruber, IT systems administrator at Interquell. “A failure of critical IT applications like our Microsoft Dynamics NAV ERP system would quickly bring our plants to a standstill and we would no longer be able to supply our customers on time.”
With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of business continuity took on a whole new meaning for Interquell. The company now suddenly had to continue business operations with a large number of remote users. Almost half of Interquell’s employees started working from home due to contact restrictions and cloud-based collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams ensured virtual collaboration and communication. The challenge, however, was to enable flexible working from any location without compromising the security and availability of sensitive data.
Interquell was able to react quickly in this situation thanks to having an existing Veeam infrastructure. The company already implemented Veeam® Backup & Replication™ several years before, initially to back up VMware vSphere environments at the three company locations. With this solution, the IT department backs up the entire virtualized server infrastructure, which is a total of around 400 virtual machines (VMs). For long-term storage, their backup data was also stored on tape. Interquell also uses Veeam to keep replicas of the most important VMs. In the event of a disaster, all critical applications for production could therefore be restarted immediately.
“Veeam has become indispensable in protecting our business operations,” Gruber said. “We can use it to make failed systems available again in the shortest possible time. At the same time, the multi-level backup concept with air gaps protects our data against threats from ransomware. Also, the flexible solution architecture played an important role in our decision to use Veeam. We can back up virtual, physical and cloud-based workloads from one central platform.”
It was precisely this level of flexibility that paid off after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Interquell quickly implemented Veeam® Agents on the Windows laptops of about 100 remote users. These agents regularly back up locally stored data, preventing accidental data loss when working from home.
Interquell can largely automate the management of Veeam Agents via Veeam Backup & Replication’s central management console. The IT department uses protection groups to define which devices should be protected. Veeam Solutions find the devices during regular scans of the network and then automatically installs the Veeam Agent software. The actual backup jobs are triggered at set times by the backup server and then executed by Veeam Agents on the device. As a result, the backup does not impact server capacity. Backup data is securely transferred to Interquell’s data center via Veeam® Cloud Connect for the Enterprise — eliminating the need to establish and manage VPN connections.
“The solution has proven excellent in practice for us,” said Gruber. “For example, if a corporate laptop is broken, we can restore the entire hard disk contents very quickly to a replacement device. A granular restore of individual files or folders is also possible. We can therefore provide comprehensive support for users working from home; they can concentrate fully on their tasks and know that their data is protected.”
Interquell uses Veeam to back up not only local data on company laptops, but also all content that employees store in Microsoft Office 365. The use of Microsoft Teams in particular has increased massively during the COVID-19 crisis. Interquell employees use the platform to communicate with their colleagues and collaborate on documents, among other things. With Veeam® Backup for Microsoft Office 365, all Microsoft Teams data is backed up from the Microsoft cloud in Interquell’s data center.
Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 regularly backs up all Microsoft Teams content, channels and tabs and also offers a granular restore function with Veeam® Explorer for Microsoft Teams. This allows IT to search, find and restore accidentally deleted Microsoft Teams data very easily and quickly. Backing up and restoring data and other content from Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business and other Office 365 services is just as straightforward. Depending on the type of data being backed up, Interquell is able to specify how long data should be retained — for example, for three, five or ten years.
“Veeam provided us with excellent support in planning the solution,” Gruber said. “For example, one recommendation was to use an S3 connector for backup in our data center. It allows us to back up all Office 365 data to S3-compatible object storage. That opened the door for us to very cost-effective data storage that we can expand flexibly and indefinitely as needed.”
Interquell is a German manufacturer of premium pet food and cereal products in the food industry. The Interquell petfood division produces up to 320 tons of pet food per day and distributes its products in 75 countries on four continents. Interquell cereals specializes in refined cereal products and produce, among other things like, instant flakes and cereal porridges for premium organic food.
The company has very strict requirements regarding IT availability since its digitally controlled food production runs around the clock. The COVID-19 crisis made this challenge even more complex. For smooth business operations, Interquell’s users need reliable access to all data and applications from home - including Microsoft Office 365 data.