With its beginnings as a school for Dutch studies in Edo (now Tokyo) in 1858 by Yukichi Fukuzawa, Keio University is one of the oldest private universities in Japan, offering education from primary school through the undergraduate and graduate level. More than 33,500 students and 2,700 faculty and staff, spread over six campuses and ten departments in the Tokyo metropolitan area, continue the “spirit of empirical science,” favored by Yukichi Fukuzawa, and are engaged in academic and international education and research. The university’s ITC (Information Technology Center) delivers the information system environment required for the introduction and use of IT in a digital society. Led by the ITC Headquarters with its ten staff members, ITC provides the environment and services needed to support stable and secure communications.
Keio has introduced commercial software for virtual infrastructure backup using VMware's products, but it was unable to handle actual operations and ITC was forced to create their own scripts to perform backups. Therefore, if necessary data was damaged or lost due to problems with the infrastructure or an operational mistake, ITC could not restore individual files.
Keio University is a leading private school and a leading force in Japanese internet technology in recent years. Thousands of terminals are utilized on each of the campuses, which have been constructed to meet the diverse needs of the students and faculty who conduct active education and research activities, making full use of IT.
The Information Technology Center (ITC) manages and operates the infrastructure that connects these different types of campuses and networks. In addition to the six major campuses, ITC supports the operation of infrastructure in Keio’s affiliated schools and satellite campuses.
Yasuo Miyamoto, who has been engaged in system procurement and operation at the ITC Headquarters for several years, commented, “The important thing is to provide our services without interruptions. To achieve that, data protection systems such as backup and replication that can handle emergencies are indispensable.” If we cannot realize efficient backup and quick restoration, many services including the authentication infrastructure are likely to be affected, and the smooth running of class operations and research activities may be disrupted. With this background, Keio University adopted Veeam® Backup & Replication™, which provides Veeam Software’s backup and Availability, and helped Keio University achieve operational stability for its infrastructure.
Keio University adopted virtual infrastructure with VMware in 2009 — which is two generations older than the current system — and started to consolidate its hardware. Backup and replication functions for disaster are essential for infrastructure, but with the commercial solution that was adopted at the start, “It took so long that the backup did not finish even when the date changed. As a result, we decided that this system could not handle actual operations, and we are forced to create and operate our own scripts using APIs.” Miyamoto recalls.
However, ITC could not afford to devote valuable labor resources to backup alone. Against this background, Keio adopted Veeam Backup & Replication under its fouryear replacement schedule.
Miyamoto frankly states, “When I was first introduced to Veeam Software, I had never heard of it before, and it had a very attractive cost compared with our previous backup solution, so I was worried about whether it would work. But, as I heard more about it, I began to feel that it was an excellent product that we could adopt with confidence.”
The ITC does not simply outsource everything, but it works on the concept of “doing everything from system planning and procurement to disposal ourselves.” Since it takes responsibility for operations, ITC’s RFPs include dozens of functions and specifications as essential requirements. Veeam Backup & Replication cleared these requirements.
With this background, Keio University introduced Veeam Backup & Replication in 2013. Based on the good record of stable operations over the previous four years, Keio decided to use Veeam Backup & Replication again when they replaced their virtualization infrastructure in the summer of 2017. They are using the system as an easily scalable Availability solution for Hyper Converged Infrastructure (HCI). According to Miyamoto, “There were various other products with good functions, but based on our review, we concluded that Veeam was the best option.”
At the time of introduction in 2017, work was supported by Kanematsu Electronics, who had assisted Keio in constructing their disaster recovery (DR) base just before then. Miyamoto says, “I am very satisfied that an excellent team handled the work.” Miyamoto was highly impressed that whenever there was an issue, rather than being told that the team would “take the issue back and consider it,” they gave accurate information on the spot in response to every detailed question and request regarding the settings, thanks to their high level of technical ability.
Migration work from the existing environment was realized without almost any interruption, and the University is now using the system to back up within and between each of its sites. Miyamoto also highly appreciates that there is excellent compatibility with the HCI, and that “We are able to realize very efficient operations because the scope of backup can be expanded automatically in response to scaleout.”
With the IT environment changing dramatically, the ITC Headquarters considered alternatives such as backing up to the cloud as well as backing up to on-premises as it had done before. In the discussion, even aggressive opinions such as, “Because we will install HCI, we don’t need backups,” were voiced. However, “We have some systems that will remain on-premises in some form. It is essential to protect them and continue the services, and provide an environment that can handle unforeseen circumstances,” says Miyamoto.
Keio University plans to gradually integrate systems that have not yet been integrated on the virtual infrastructure renewed this time in the future, and it plans to use Veeam Backup & Replication to protect the data. Also, the university is looking at the trends in the entire IT industry and considering initiatives such as linking with cloud infrastructure and replication to the cloud. In that sense, Keio is looking forward to future developments of Veeam’s Availability solutions, which make workload Availability possible regardless of size, virtual, physical or cloudbased under the Veeam Hyper-Availability Platform.