The Business Challenge
Rockingham is the third largest city in Western Australia and relies on its IT infrastructure to support all aspects of the city’s operation. The IT team oversees a data center that gives 450 users access to internal applications (such as email, calendaring, and document management systems) and specialized databases for budgeting, zoning and issuing public notices. Rockingham’s close proximity to both a naval station and a fertilizer plant places it at risk should a cataclysmic event occur.
“We are currently building an off-site data center to provide additional safeguards should an explosion or other calamity occur,” said Brook Papworth, Senior IT Officer, Operational Systems. “The city depends on IT to keep it running, and we have to ensure that our critical data and applications are protected.”
Rockingham’s operational systems are 100 percent virtualized. The infrastructure includes five VMware ESX hosts and 35 virtual machines (VMs). The product the IT team initially used for data protection failed to back up VMs efficiently. There were frequent VSS (Microsoft Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service) errors that resulted in incomplete backup of VMs. “When it comes to VM backup, consistency is key, and we were constantly having problems,” said Papworth. “We needed to ensure rapid backup of all VMs, as well as our file system data, Microsoft SQL Server databases and mailboxes.”
The IT team knew they needed a solution that was simple, cost-effective, and easy to use and maintain. They were familiar with several popular solutions but recognized that most had a fundamental flaw: they only adapt their legacy products to the virtual environment. Papworth and his team wanted a solution that was built specifically for it.
There were other criteria the team thought essential. “We were looking for fast, ultra-reliable backups, a simple and concise interface, clear communication of product features, and great customer service,” Papworth said.
Veeam Backup & Replication proved to be that solution. It is one of the products in the Veeam Backup Management Suite™, which Rockingham licensed. In addition to data protection, the suite enables real-time monitoring, capacity planning, change tracking, and documentation and management reporting – for complete control of the virtual infrastructure.
The Veeam Solution
The Veeam Management Suite offers a complete package of tools that effectively manages the virtual environment. Rockingham chose the Management Suite because it satisfies the immediate need for fast, reliable backups, and also has additional capabilities that will be needed in the new data center. “We decided it was more cost-effective to purchase a suite of integrated, easy-to-use solutions that work in tandem so that, as we grow, we can incorporate them as needed,” Papworth explained. “We didn’t want to have to purchase additional products, so the bundled solutions were a significant value-add for us.”
All the products in the suite are built specifically for virtual environments, which was precisely what the team was looking for. The Veeam backup solution leverages VSS to ensure database-consistent backups, not just crash-consistent backups, of SQL Server databases.
Backup speed has significantly increased, while disk storage requirements have been reduced. “Before Veeam, it took up to 10 hours for a full backup, but now we do it in less than three hours,” said Papworth. ”And our backups are always successful. File-level recovery takes only seconds compared to half an hour or more, and we’ve found that we use only four terabytes of storage space, where before it took more than 10.”
The Instant VM Recovery capability included in Veeam Backup & Replication lets the IT team run a VM directly from a compressed backup file, eliminating the need to extract the backup and copy it to production storage. If a VM goes down, it can be restarted on any host. According to Papworth, “The Instant VM Recovery feature works beautifully. We can restore all VM files to their correct locations in about 12 minutes. The VM reboots and works as if nothing has happened.”
The IT team finds Veeam’s interface user-friendly, and its many features easily understood and accessible. “One of the biggest problems with interfaces is too much data,” said Papworth. “It’s sometimes hard to determine what to look at and what to ignore. Veeam’s interface is clean and simple. Likewise, its many features – some not available in other tools – are presented in a clear, uncluttered, and easy-to-use way.”
Rockingham also likes Veeam’s licensing and functionality model. “So many vendors have complex licensing and product backends,” Papworth commented. “Veeam bundles extra value in with its products and has a simple licensing system that makes installation easy.”
Good customer support is essential to the Rockingham team. “So often, customer support is outsourced, and finding an answer to a simple question can take forever,” Papworth explained. “Veeam’s support personnel have a thorough knowledge of the products, are easy to reach, and are always friendly, responsive and attentive. That stands head and shoulders above the support we’ve received from other vendors.”
Provides a cost-effective solution that is designed specifically
for virtual environments
All the products in the Veeam Management Suite are designed from the ground up for virtual environments. The Management Suite is also cost-effective. According to Papworth, “We bought the entire Veeam package for less than the renewal of our previous, under-performing backup product, and we gained additional functionality.”
Ensures highly consistent, reliable backups
Veeam Backup & Replication backs up Rockingham’s VMs effectively and efficiently, eliminating the frequent VSS errors they experienced previously, and ensuring that backups of the VMs file system data, SQL Server databases and mailboxes are completed with 100 percent accuracy.
Increases backup speed and decreases storage requirements
The city of Rockingham has reduced the size of backup files by 60 percent, and backups are now 70 percent faster than with the previous backup tool.