Steria’s Benelux subsidiary operates a multitenant environment that provides IT services for customers in the financial, government and public utilities sectors. Ninety-five percent of the infrastructure is virtualized on VMware vSphere resulting in 250 Windows and Linux virtual machines (VMs). The Windows VMs run Microsoft Exchange, Active Directory, SQL Server, Dynamics, and file servers. The Linux VMs run Oracle Application and Oracle Database.
When the IT team began its virtualization project, it focused on two goals: optimize storage for VM backups (the team moved from tape-based to disk-based backups) and improve recovery times for failed VMs. Steria has service-level agreements (SLAs) with every customer regarding storage and recovery timeframes.
"With a growing number of new customers and SLAs, we needed a virtualization backup solution with built-in deduplication for efficient use of backup storage space," said Pedro Vandeputte, Lead System Engineer for Steria. We considered using the same backup tool we use with our physical machines, but it relies on agents, and the deduplication agent was licensed separately. We had a large and growing VMware environment at the time, so that kind of expenditure would have been economically infeasible."
Vandeputte and his colleagues also wanted to improve VM recovery time to meet customers’ SLAs. "VM recovery was too long with the backup tool we used for our physical machines," he explained. "It took more than four hours to recover a twoterabyte Exchange Server. It was clear we needed a different approach. We had to find a solution that was efficient in terms of pricing and effective in terms of capabilities."
Steria’s IT team found exactly what it needed in Veeam® Backup & Replication™—an agentless solution built specifically for virtualization that is powerful, easy-to-use and affordable. Veeam offers built-in data deduplication and forever incremental backups for efficient and cost-effective disk-based VM backups, and it provides fast, flexible and reliable VM recovery for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
"As a service provider, we must offer the most comprehensive IT services at the best price," Vandeputte said. "The only way we can offer compelling pricing is by keeping our processing costs at a reasonable level, and Veeam helps us keep recovery and backup storage costs low."
With Veeam, backup files require 66% less storage than before. Veeam also provides fast VM recovery, enabling the IT team to meet recovery time objectives (RTOs) in customers’ SLAs.
"A full VM restore is 20 to 50 times faster with Veeam," Vandeputte said. "Recovering an Exchange Server used to take more than four hours. Now it takes less than five minutes with Veeam. And, there’s nothing easier than Veeam’s 1-Click File Restore. We find the Windows file and restore it to its original location with a single click. It never fails us."
Vandeputte said VM backups are much faster with Veeam too. "An Exchange Server that used to take four to five hours to back up now backs up in 30 minutes with Veeam," he explained. "Because we can back up VMs faster, we’re backing them up more often, giving us more restore points to meet customers’ recovery point objectives (RPOs)."
"The biggest benefit you get with Veeam is simplicity. It makes backing up and recovering VMs so simple that those processes require no further thought. But if you do have an issue, Veeam support is excellent. I’ve needed support a few times because we have a complex environment. For instance, we have several really important VMs that host millions of files. Veeam engineers helped us develop a customized piece of code that enables us to protect those VMs. I’ve had a stellar experience every time I’ve worked with Veeam support."
Efficient, flexible storage of VM backups
With Veeam’s built-in deduplication, forever incremental backups and other spacesaving features, Steria achieves efficient and cost-effective disk-based VM backups. Some backup products require users to license deduplication agents separately, but Veeam has built-in deduplication.
"Since Veeam is an agentless solution, it also leaves no footprint on the virtual environment," Vandeputte said. "With a 95% virtualized environment, anything we can remove, like an agent, is beneficial because it improves processing time and lowers overall costs".
SLAs met in less time with less effort
Steria’s IT team recovers VMs 20 to 50 times faster with Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery, enabling the company to meet customers’ SLAs. Instead of making users wait hours while the team provisions storage, extracts the backup and copies it to production, team members can restart a VM directly from a backup in fewer than five minutes. Item-level recovery is much faster with Veeam too. The team uses 1-Click File Restore and U-AIR™ (Universal Application-Item Recovery) for quick recovery. U-AIR lets users recover individual items from any virtualized application, such as Oracle, on any operating system, such as Linux, without additional backups, agents or software tools.
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