Kern County is a citizen-centered government that serves and protects nearly a million residents. Protects is the operative word because the county, like most in California, is vulnerable to earthquakes, wildfires and ransomware.
California averages more than 100 earthquakes daily, and while the majority are low in magnitude, many are not, including the earthquake that struck Kern County in 1952. Registering 7.3 in magnitude, it killed 12 people and caused tens of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. As if earthquakes weren’t enough, more than 62,000 wildfires destroy homes, businesses and property throughout the state each year. Ransomware is another ongoing threat. In 2020, ransomware cost U.S. government organizations approximately $18.88 billion in recovery and downtime.
“We take the threat of disasters very seriously, which means we take data protection very seriously too,” said Mac Avancena, Chief Information Technology Officer for Kern County. “When we moved from a legacy email system called GroupWise to Microsoft Office 365, we worried about data protection because Microsoft doesn’t offer comprehensive backup. Like all governments, we depend on data to serve and protect the public. All 40 of our departments, including fire, sheriff and public health, require continual data access to keep residents safe.”
Transitioning to Microsoft Office 365 was the first step in Kern County’s Digital Transformation. A short while later, the county implemented ReadyKern, a stateof- the-art emergency notification system that alerts residents and businesses to natural disasters and crises. Next the county will transition from a traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to Oracle ERP Cloud.
“In addition to protecting Microsoft Office 365 data, we wanted to modernize and consolidate data protection for every IT system as we moved from an analog world to a digital world,” Avancena said. “We chose Microsoft 365 because it’s a federally sanctioned system, and we chose Veeam® Backup for Microsoft 365 because we felt it’s the best and only choice for data protection. We appreciate that Veeam Software works hand-in-hand with Microsoft to make sure their shared customers have a fully integrated solution that protects the 365 ecosystem.”
Avancena said one of Kern County’s top priorities is business continuity, so the IT team deployed Veeam Backup & Replication™ next.
Veeam modernizes, standardizes and centralizes data protection for business continuity. Veeam also supports the county’s Digital Transformation and ransomware protection strategy. Additionally, Veeam verifies data recoverability to facilitate compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) law.
“Our goal was to consolidate data protection into one unified environment to protect the integrity of our government, and we achieved that goal with Veeam,” Avancena said. “It’s a good feeling knowing Veeam is our last line of defense in a disaster situation because it’s not a matter of whether a disaster will occur; it’s a matter of when.”
Veeam backs up 2 PB of data across 1,000 virtual machines (VMs) from Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) 3Par StoreServ snapshots to HPE StoreOnce, which provides time-lock data immutability to increase ransomware protection.
“What I find fascinating about ransomware is that everyone wants to get in front of the problem, which is great, but what do you do when you get hit? Are you truly prepared? What’s your business continuity strategy?” Avancena asked. “That’s why Veeam is our last line of defense. It preserves our business operations.”
To ensure ongoing business operations, Kern County conducts a DR test annually using Veeam DataLabs™ to create isolated virtual environments for backups. SureBackup® tests and verifies backups for recoverability and Staged Restore scans them for malware before they’re restored to the production environment.
“Recovery validation makes it easier to meet regulatory requirements,” Avancena said. “We never purge data, so we like that Veeam is scalable too.”
Avancena said when Kern County deployed Veeam to protect Microsoft 365, no one knew Veeam would eventually protect every IT system.
“Veeam is our standard for data protection,” he continued. “It simplifies and consolidates backup and DR so we have economies of scale, making IT more efficient. Veeam is an important part of a multi-faceted strategy to achieve better benefits for the county.”
Kern County is the third largest county in California and among the largest in the United States. Spanning nearly 8,200 square miles and located north of Los Angeles, Kern County extends into the Mohave Desert and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Incorporated in 1866, the county serves nearly 1 million residents, employs 8,500 people and has a $3.5 billion budget.
When Kern County moved from a legacy email system to Microsoft 365, the IT team was concerned about data protection because they felt Microsoft didn’t offer comprehensive backup. Comprehensive backup is important because the county’s 40 departments use data to serve residents and keep them safe. Kern County is prone to earthquakes, wildfires and ransomware, so safety is critical, which makes data protection critical too.