The business challenge
Data plays a pivotal role in managing and optimizing the utilization of Nakilat’s
expansive fleet, which accounts for an incredible 12% of the total global
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) shipping capacity. “We operate some of the
world’s largest and most sophisticated LNG carriers,” said Muhammad Yasir
Khan, Head of IT Infrastructure, Nakilat. With each vessel fully equipped with
state-of-the-art sensors and technologies, there was tremendous potential
for this wealth of data to be utilized to increase operational efficiency, avoid
delays, improve planning, enhance security and conduct predictive analysis.
“Nakilat vessels deliver clean energy to over 90 terminals across more than
26 countries worldwide since they began operations. At these terminals too,
operators rely on up-to-the-minute data that we provide to track our vessels
and make informed decisions regarding terminal allocation and other vital
arrangements that streamline operations,” explained Khan.
However, while the importance of data and its availability were abundantly clear
to Khan and his team, they faced a pressing challenge. Owing to the bandwidth
limitations imposed by VSAT links – the primary means of connectivity for ships
at sea – they were unable to rapidly and reliably sync critical data between
vessels and their on-premise and cloud data centers. This syncing of data
is critical to Nakilat’s business as it is used to track vessel movement and
utilization, coordinate with port authorities and optimize the entire logistic
operation. “Without the assurance that data from our carriers would be safe,
accurate and available, we were unable to utilize it to its full potential,” he said.
This data is the lifeblood of Nakilat’s smooth operations as the company’s
C-level executives ‘heavily rely on data to run the show’. “Every second of
data is critical to ensure the delivery of our cargo to customers. For example,
generating the daily reports and port compliance documentation, and
tracking crew movement and requirements all rely heavily on the availability
of data which in turn ensures business continuity, “said Khan.
The Veeam solution
Nakilat has two on-premises data centers in Qatar and a cloud
data center, hosted in Microsoft Azure. In addition, the company
has 18 small data centers on board its vessels, a number that is set
to grow, and over 10 cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
applications. After careful analysis of this complex, cloud-oriented
infrastructure, Nakilat decided to enter a long-term strategic
partnership with Veeam owing to the vendor’s proven track record
in both on-premise and cloud environments.
Following the deployment of Veeam Availability Suite Enterprise
Plus, Nakilat was able to reap benefits from the solution’s industryleading
data compression and deduplication abilities that decrease
both the traffic going over the network as well as the disk space
required for storing backup files and VM replicas. “Even with
bandwidth restricted to between just 1 to 4 Mbps by the VSAT links,
and the storage limitations of our smaller on-board data centers,
Veeam’s solution is still able to capture and back up all data from
our LNG fleet and ensure that services are always available,” said
Khan. Furthermore, the company has managed to reduce restore
time by 70% with Veeam’s instant recovery feature and Khan noted
that this has ‘drastically reduced’ service interruptions.
Not only has Veeam given Khan and his team the confidence that
critical vessel data is secure, it has enabled them to achieve their
desired outcome with better manageability and unified reporting.
“Veeam’s solutions are user friendly and offer a major advantage. We
have managed to significantly reduce the complexity and workload
on our IT team when compared to previous solution,” he added.
Elaborating on the three key benefits he believes Veeam has
brought to his IT team, Khan said, “Most importantly, we have
been able to consistently achieve our mandated recovery time
objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) thanks to this
robust solution. Moreover, the “On-Demand Sandbox” restore
feature enables us to instantly set up the entire infrastructure in an
isolated environment which has proven invaluable to our testing
and development efforts. And finally, enabling the successful
recovery point and recovery time objectives of our Office 365
mailboxes and SharePoint online libraries has meant we could
address one of our main cloud challenges.”
Nakilat has clearly outlined the next steps in its cloud-first
strategy. “We are heavily cloud inclined and are looking to move
our SAP data to the cloud where its backup and restoration will
be managed by Veeam. In the near future, we will extend our
Veeam deployment to also manage the backup of our data and
applications that are hosted in Microsoft Azure,” said Khan. With
their sights also firmly set on internet of things (IoT), Nakilat’s IT
team is eager to use Veeam to back up the vast amounts of data
generated by the sensors and other Operational Technology (OT)
systems into Azure Data Lakes.
Khan and his team remain confident that in Veeam, they have a technology
partner that is fully prepared to deliver the world-class solutions and
support they need. “We are satisfied with the services provided by Veeam as
our partner in enabling constant technological innovation,” he concluded.
- Reliably backs up data from offshore vessels to data centers, even over
low bandwidth VSAT links
Despite VSAT links only offering between 1 to 4 Mbps transfer speeds,
the Veeam solution’s industry-leading compression and deduplication
capabilities ensure that critical data from vessels at sea is reliably and
accurately backed up to the company’s onsite or cloud data centers.
- Significantly enhances availability of services by delivering 70% reduction
in restore time
Nakilat has managed to reduce restore time for its VMs by 70% with Veeam’s
instant recovery feature and Muhammad Yasir Khan, Head of IT Infrastructure,
Nakilat states that this has ‘drastically reduced’ service interruptions.
Furthermore, the solution’s On-Demand Sandbox restore feature enables
Khan’s IT team to instantly set up the entire infrastructure in an isolated
environment, greatly aiding and simplifying testing and development.
- Solves key cloud challenges and paves the way for the successful
implementation of the company’s cloud-first and IoT strategies
Veeam has supported Nakilat in successfully meeting the point and time
recovery objectives of its Office 365 mailboxes and SharePoint online
libraries which were previously one of the company’s main cloud challenges.