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TransMaldivian Airways

Company:

Trans Maldivian Airways is the largest seaplane operator in the world and the oldest air services operator in the Republic of Maldives. The company transports 960,000 passengers each year to more than 60 resorts on the most remote and pristine archipelagos on the planet.

Challenge:

The legacy backup tool had several limitations that made it impractical and unsuitable for a company requiring 24x7x365 access to its reservation system and other key data in its ERP system. The legacy backup tool could only back up the most critical VMs weekly, providing very few recovery points. Moreover, the tool didn’t offer granular recovery, resulting in unacceptable recovery times, and it didn’t provide replication for DR. If the reservation system is unavailable, no one can book airline tickets.

Results:

  • Backup complexity decreases, saving time
  • Granular, high-speed recovery enables 5-minute RTOs
  • Replication provides an additional safety net and 30-minute RPOs

The Business Challenge

Located southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Laccadive Sea, the Maldives is composed of 1,190 islands strung across the equator like a necklace. Maldives’ natural beauty, climate and location make it a popular tourist destination. Once tourists arrive in Malé, which is Maldives’ capital, Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) transports them to and from resorts.

TMA’s reservation system, along with critical business and financial applications, reside in an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, which has a backend on Microsoft SQL Server. The ERP system has been fully customized for TMA and is part of a 100% virtualized environment. If the virtual machine (VM) running ERP fails and can’t be recovered quickly, the reservation system is unavailable, putting TMA customers and employees in a holding pattern and leaving the resorts with no way to make airline reservations for their guests.

In 2012, the VM running the ERP system failed and TMA spent three hours recovering it. Luckily, the VM running SQL was fine, so TMA recovered data while the ERP VM was being restored. The reservation system was down for fewer than 30 minutes, but time is money, so TMA decided to replace the backup tool.

“There were additional reasons for replacing the backup tool,” said Rajendra Gupta, IT Manager at TMA. “It could only perform full backups, so backing up ERP, which was 140GB at the time, took 13 hours. That was hard on the production environment, so we only backed up ERP and one more critical application—Microsoft Exchange— once a week. We took full backups of SQL daily for safety, which paid off when the ERP VM failed. Backup had become unnecessarily complicated and required a dedicated person to spend three hours managing it each day.”

With only weekly restore points for ERP and Exchange and daily restore points for SQL, meeting recovery point objectives (RPOs) was difficult for TMA. Meeting recovery time objectives (RTOs) was also difficult because the backup tool didn’t offer granular recovery. TMA couldn’t restore individual items in Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory.

The final blow was the backup tool didn’t offer replication for disaster recovery (DR). One of TMA’s top priorities is high availability in the data center. If a production VM goes down, TMA must have the ability to immediately fail over to a VM replica, giving users access to services and applications with minimum disruption. It was time for a new data protection solution

The Veeam Solution

TMA relies on Veeam® Backup & Replication™ for high availability of ERP and other important data and applications, keeping its reservation system airborne.

TMA uses Veeam for daily backup of roughly 5.3TB of data on approximately 57 VMware vSphere VMs that reside on Cisco UCS servers, HP blade servers and Dell servers. The ERP system holds about 1.8TB, but data is growing. Unlike the previous backup tool, Veeam offers forever-incremental backup and built-in WAN acceleration, enabling TMA to back up all VMs each day in half the time. TMA also uses Veeam to replicate VMs offsite for DR, giving the airlines a copy of every VM in a ready-to-start state in case of emergency.

“A big benefit of using Veeam is meeting RPOs and RTOs,” Gupta said. “Now that we back up VMs every day, we have more restore points to meet RPOs. And now that we have replicas, our RPOs are under 30 minutes.”

TMA meets 5-minute RTOs with Veeam’s high-speed recovery features. Instant VM Recovery™ restores VMs to the production environment in minutes by running them directly from backup files. Veeam Explorers™ provide visibility and fast, granular recovery in backups of Active Directory, Exchange, SQL and SharePoint. Before Veeam, TMA couldn’t recover 30% of the time.

Veeam helps TMA save on operating expenses too. Now that backup is fast and reliable, TMA doesn’t need an IT administrator to spend three hours managing backup each day. If a backup fails, Veeam reports it in an email. Each day, TMA spends roughly five minutes reviewing Veeam’s email message and rerunning the occasional failed backup job.

“We use Veeam’s email messages for one more purpose,” Gupta said. “We demonstrate compliance with industry requirements by proving we successfully back up our most critical VMs.”

Veeam has additional features that are beneficial to TMA. Built-in compression and deduplication reduce backup storage requirements, and On-Demand Sandbox™ provides TMA with an isolated environment called a Virtual Lab to train new employees. The Virtual Lab can also be used for troubleshooting and testing software patches and upgrades.

“Everything is so easy with Veeam—from backup to recovery to replication,” Gupta said. “With Veeam we meet RPOs and RTOs and have complete confidence we can recover our reservation system quickly and efficiently.”

The Results

Backup complexity decreases, saving time
Veeam Backup & Replication replaced a legacy backup tool fraught with limitations that were unsuitable for an airline requiring high availability of applications and data. Veeam is so reliable and easy-to-use that TMA no longer needs an IT administrator to manage backup for three hours each day.

Granular, high-speed recovery enables 5-minute RTOs
TMA couldn’t recover 30% of the time before Veeam. With Veeam, TMA restores whole VMs, files and individual items in critical applications and databases such as Active Directory, Exchange, SQL and SharePoint. With Veeam, TMA meets 5-minute RTOs.

Replication provides an additional safety net and 30-minute RPOs
In addition to high-speed recovery, Veeam replication helps TMA avoid data loss by meeting 30-minute RPOs through failover and failback. Because TMA backs up more frequently with Veeam, more restore points are available as well. If the latest replica is corrupt, TMA can roll back to a previous restore point.

TransMaldivian Airways
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