The Business Challenge
NAI Utah operates 30 virtual servers on four ESX hosts. Three people make up the IT staff, which supports approximately 300 real estate agents statewide.
IT Manager Nathan Johnson appreciates the value of virtualizing with VMware. In fact, he would like to have a 100 percent virtualized environment. Today 90 percent of the operation is virtualized, primarily because of the high availability benefits to be gained vs. a physical server environment. “It’s also much less expensive to maintain a virtualized environment,” he said. “I couldn’t put 30 physical servers in the space that I have.”
Nathan says disaster recovery is his first priority. “I spent nine years in data recovery before working for NAI Utah,” he explained. “I watched Fortune 500 companies fail because they didn’t back up their data properly. I know firsthand that virtual is the fastest way to get back up and running, but that’s not the case if you have unreliable backup and recovery software. That’s why I began looking for a better product.”
NAI Utah had implemented what was, at the time, the only third-party virtual machine backup software on the market, but as their VMware environment began to grow, Nathan quickly saw the limitations of that product.
“Recovery is my main concern,” he said. “But with the previous product, backups also took too long. I have a limited window of time to do nightly backups, and even though it did differentials, it took up to eight hours. I needed something better, faster, and more reliable.”
The Veeam Backup Solution
Shortly after Nathan installed Veeam Backup, he experienced one of its key benefits. “The CFO asked me for a Word document he had deleted the previous week. If I had been using the old software, I would have had to mount and recover the entire vmdk, just to get that one file. When I tried to do this in the past, it took eight hours, the system timed out, and I could not successfully recover the file. ‘It’s not working’ is certainly not something you want to tell your CFO,” Nathan said. “My previous vendor kept telling me they would be coming out with a future version that would solve my issues, but I got tired of waiting. I need something that works now.”
The second time the CFO needed a file recovered, Nathan used Veeam Backup and had the file to him in 10 minutes.
“I didn’t have to mount the entire vmdk to pull one file, which saved me a tremendous amount of time,” he added. In addition, Nathan no longer has to back up his data twice in order to have both file-level and image-level recovery readily available. From a single image-level backup, he can extract individual files to the latest state or to a specific point in time, as he did with the CFO’s Word document.
Backup speed is also important to Nathan and his team. “Veeam’s synthetic backup is much faster – my backup window is now down to about four to 12 hours, which is half the time it took before.”
An additional benefit of Veeam Backup is that it allows NAI Utah to choose their retention period for old backups and automatically deletes the oldest backup file each day. “The old software had a retention policy of 14 days, but it didn’t always get rid of the old files, so I had to manually delete them, which caused me unnecessary worry.
“The ability to quickly recover all my data is priceless to me,” he added. “Any critical box that can’t be recovered is worthless.”
Back-up Speed Doubles - Backups that used to take eight hours now take up to four hours at NAI Utah. That’s because Veeam Backup uses a synthetic backup technique that allows Nathan and his team to do a full backup only once and incrementally back up only the changes in subsequent runs. During each incremental backup, the software rebuilds the last full image to the most recent state and calculates a reverse increment to store the historical change data. This provides him with a full VM image for quickest restore, while reverse increments allow for rollback to any point in time in case of software corruption.
File-Level Recovery is Fast and Simple - NAI Utah improved file-level recovery speed by 95% with Veeam Backup. File-level recovery used to take up to eight hours with the old software, but now it takes minutes. Nathan can restore individual files from imagelevel backups in seconds, without having to extract the full VM image to his local drive. Furthermore, he no longer has to back up his data twice in order to have both file-level and image-level recovery readily available. Instead, he can extract individual files to the latest state or to a specific point in time, which is extremely important when executives request a deleted file immediately.
Rolling Retention Policy Require No Manual Deletions - Veeam Backup automatically deletes out-of-date backup files, so Nathan and his team don’t have to manually delete the previous data. He can also set the number of backup retention days according to his preference, which he couldn’t do with the old software.