The Kodiak Island Borough operates under a manager form of government, combining the leadership of elected officials with the guidance of administrative employees. It’s the most popular structure of local government in the United States.
Like most local governments, the borough levies property taxes on residents and businesses to fund public services such as education and infrastructure such as roads. During fiscal year 2020, Kodiak collected $1.4 billion in property taxes.
For more than 20 years, the borough’s IT Department used Backup Exec to protect government data. Paul VanDyke, IT Supervisor for the Kodiak Island Borough and a long-term Veritas customer, said the solution was reliable — until it wasn’t.
“Backup failed for two weeks straight, making our backup infrastructure fragile and dysfunctional,” he said. “I wasn’t getting the help I needed from the vendor, and I was about to leave for a conference. Our data was in jeopardy.”
VanDyke installed a free trial of Veeam® Backup & Replication™, ran a backup and left for the conference. Twenty-four hours later, ransomware infiltrated the borough’s IT infrastructure.
“I immediately returned to the office to begin disaster recovery,” he said. “Veeam saved the day and my career, but that was only the beginning of our Veeam story.”
Before moving to Office 365, the IT Department deployed Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 to protect historical emails. Elected officials use Exchange Online to communicate, and since their emails are public record, the borough must maintain access and control of emails for decades.
“Microsoft didn’t offer suitable backup, but Veeam certainly does,” VanDyke said. “Once you’ve been through ransomware, you have a new appreciation for what it means to have total access and control of your data.”
Veeam protects all government information, including data generating $1.4 billion in annual property tax revenue and data in Office 365. Veeam provides total access and control of historical emails going back decades and simplifies data protection, saving 20 hours weekly and $57,000 annually.
“Veeam just works, and it works well — every time,” VanDyke said. “Backup is reliable, and recovery is fast. Veeam supports success in the IT Department.”
The IT Department is responsible for the provision, maintenance and instruction of technology applications for the borough. Microsoft SQL Server supports many of these applications including Esri for Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, PACS for property assessment and data collection, and New World ERP for financial and administrative management.
“One of our complaints about Backup Exec was it didn’t offer granular recovery for our applications, so one of the benefits of using Veeam is fast, easy granular recovery,” VanDyke said. “We’re big fans of Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange. When an employee was leaving the borough for another job and deleted his email box (employee email is in Microsoft Exchange, not Exchange Online), I used Veeam to restore it in minutes. I placed it an offline repository we keep for archived data because it’s public record too. Recovery doesn’t get any easier than that.”
Veeam backs up 30 TB across 40 VMware vSphere virtual machines onpremises for fast, local recovery and replicates off-premises for disaster recovery and business continuity. Veeam also backs up the borough’s Quantum tape library to comply with the 3-2-1 Rule.
“Veeam dramatically simplifies data protection, saving 20 hours each week,” VanDyke said. “Our department is very small. We have two full-time people and one part-time person, so saving 20 hours is a big deal. Veeam gives us time to implement cost-saving technologies for the borough.”
Saving money is always priority, and Veeam helps with that too.
“No matter how much money we dumped into legacy backup, it still wasn’t 100% reliable,” VanDyke said. “We considered Commvault as a replacement, but it was very expensive. Veeam was far more affordable, saving us $57,000 each year compared to Commvault, and Veeam is 100% reliable.”
The Kodiak Island Borough is located on the Kodiak Island Archipelago, an area comprised of 16 islands along the Alaskan coastline. Named for the area’s most famous residents (3,000 Kodiak brown bears), the borough is also home to 30,000 people.
Property taxes are a significant source of revenue for local governments, so protecting the IT systems that support tax assessment and collection is a top priority. When ransomware threatened to destroy government data, Kodiak Island Borough ditched legacy backup.