Clayco, Inc. has offices in Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri. More than onethird of its 1,000 employees work remotely from project sites across the U.S. Currently, the company has one data center in its St. Louis office, and a colocation disaster recovery (DR) center about 15 miles away.
Approximately 98 percent of Clayco’s infrastructure is virtualized and includes 10 VMware ESXi hosts and approximately 120 virtual machines (VMs). Most VMs run Windows, and there are also a few VMs running Linux. Production datastores reside on NetApp storage. Microsoft SQL Server still runs on physical servers, but Clayco has plans to virtualize it in the near future.
The backup tool the IT team used for physical servers did not work well in the virtual environment. Backups were inconsistent and slow. “From the start, we were not happy with our VM backups,” said Chris Collum, Senior Systems Engineer at Clayco. “There was not enough time in the day to get all the backups completed; the backup window was just too large. We needed a reliable, consistent, easy-touse solution that we wouldn’t have to babysit.”
Replication capabilities were also essential. “Disaster recovery was perhaps the most important consideration for us,” he said. “We wanted the ability to replicate to our colocation facility to ensure business continuity. Although we tried solutions from several vendors – both conventional and virtualization-specific products – we found that Veeam Backup & Replication was the best choice for us, hands down. It gave us the consistent, reliable backups we needed, as well as enhanced data protection and DR. Veeam met, and actually exceeded, all of our requirements.”
Veeam® Backup & Replication™ eliminated the uncertainty the Clayco IT team had experienced with VM backups. “Right out of the box, we were able to check the consistency of our backups. I can’t stress enough how important that is,” Collum said. “And before, we were only able to back up weekly because backups took five or six days to complete. Now we can back up every night. And the solution is so easy to use it practically runs itself. This is important for a small IT staff like ours where time and resources are stretched.”
Although Collum and his team have not had to use the Instant VM Recovery capability that Veeam offers, it gives them peace of mind. “The ability to restart a VM directly from a backup is one of the features we value, and it is good to have that in reserve,” he said. “We do find the file-level recovery useful and very quick; we can retrieve a file at least five to seven times faster than we could before. It makes us look good when we can quickly recover a file that our CEO accidently deleted.”
While efficient, consistent backups have proved invaluable to the IT team, the replication capabilities Veeam offers are equally important. “I think many companies looking for backup overlook the replication that Veeam includes in the product,” Collum said. That is one of the best things about Veeam Backup & Replication. We replicate 100% of the virtual infrastructure to the DR center every night, with approximately 100 gigabytes of changes. We have also implemented network re-mapping and re-IP for VM replicas, which makes our DR failover incredibly simple.”
Collum and his colleagues no longer have to contend with array-based replication. “We found that replication is easier to manage and works more efficiently with Veeam than with our previous array-based replication,” he said. “And there is no additional charge, it’s included in our license. This saves us about $25,000 annually.”
The IT team also finds that Veeam support is exceptional. “The support we receive from Veeam is one of my favorite things about the company,” Collum noted. “On the few occasions we’ve had questions or needed guidance, we have received concise information that is timely and on point. Not all companies are good at this; Veeam is.”
Going forward, Collum will continue to use Veeam Backup & Replication to safeguard his environment. “We’re moving all of our Microsoft Exchange backups to Veeam to leverage item-level recovery,” he said. “In the near future, we will also back up and replicate all of our SQL Server infrastructure, and cross-replicate between a new data center we plan to build in Chicago and our DR location in St. Louis.”
Easy-to-use technology ensures consistent, reliable backups
Prior to installing Veeam, Clayco used a conventional backup tool that was unreliable and inconsistent and not built for the virtual environment. The IT team found that Veeam Backup & Replication Is easy to deploy and use and “practically runs itself.” Backups are on time, every time.
Backup speed increases 7x, enabling more frequent backups
Veeam Backup & Replication shrinks the backup window and performs VM backups at least 7x faster than Clayco’s previous backup tool. The IT team can now perform daily backups of all VMs, rather than the weekly backups that took at least five days to complete.
Effortless replication to DR site facilitates efficient and effective DR process
The Clayco IT team replicates 100% of it VMs to the DR facility every night, so Collum and his colleagues are confident that data is always protected and business continuity is maintained. Because Veeam Backup & Replication includes built-in replication, Clayco no longer has to depend on array-based replication, which saves the company approximately $25,000 annually.