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The National Disaster Management Centre

National Disaster Management Centre Puts Availability and Safety First with Veeam and HP

With Veeam, it’s so much easier to manage backups, recovery and DR.
Takusani Rasivhaga
Systems Administrator, The National Disaster Management Centre

Company:

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) coordinates disaster preparedness programmes and relief services in South Africa. Founded in 1995 and based in Pretoria, NDMC, as a part of the Department of Cooperative Governance (COGTA), helps national, provincial and municipal governments train for and respond to emergencies. NDMC is responsible for safety at all major events countrywide including the FIFA World Cup in 2010, African Cup of Nations 2013 and Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013.

Challenge:

Unsuccessful backup, slow recovery and limited visibility into VMware vSphere jeopardised NDMC’s ability to deliver 24x7x365 availability to key virtualised applications that help keep the country safe.

About :

  • Fast, frequent backup from HP StoreServ snapshots
  • Verified recoverability of every backup
  • Deep visibility into the backup infrastructure

The Business Challenge

NDMC assesses every possible risk throughout the country and prepares a corresponding plan for disaster recovery (DR). NDMC’s IT staff has a similar responsibility in the data centre. When staff members realised their legacy backup tool failed to provide 24x7x365 availability to their system-reporting tool, which tracks current and upcoming events and flags potential problems, they looked for a new availability solution.

The legacy backup-to-tape tool for VMware vSphere frequently failed or was delayed, resulting in too few recovery points. To complicate matters, inadequate monitoring and limited visibility made it nearly impossible to troubleshoot issues in the backup infrastructure.

DR was another challenge. The legacy backup tool didn’t have built-in replication, so NDMC had to purchase a separate replication add-on; however, failover to replicas was not a seamless process. Recovery was not easy either; restoring critical VMs could take days. NDMC’s IT staff struggled to meet recovery time and point objectives (RTPOs ™).

“We needed a single, easy-to-use solution that offered reliable backup, deep monitoring and straightforward replication for DR,” said Takusani Rasivhaga, Systems Administrator at NDMC. “Our mission is to provide 24x7x365 availability to all applications, especially the system-reporting tool.”

The Veeam Solution

Shortly after NDMC deployed Veeam® Availability Suite™, the IT staff realised two things: Meeting RTPOs was easy with Veeam, and there was no reason to worry about 24x7x365 availability anymore. Veeam Availability Suite combines backup, recovery, replication, monitoring, reporting and capacity planning in one easy-to-use solution.

VM backup with Veeam is faster and more reliable than the legacy tool because NDMC makes backups from HP StoreServ snapshots. This capability is called Veeam Backup from Storage Snapshots, and it enables NDMC to back up as often as needed with minimal impact on the production environment. Staff members know each backup can be recovered successfully because they use a Veeam feature called SureBackup® to verify the recoverability of every backup.

In addition to fast, reliable and recoverable backup, Veeam has built-in replication. If NDMC experiences a software or hardware malfunction, staff members quickly recover a corrupted VM by failing over to its replica at the DR site. They can fail over to the latest state of a replica or to any of its recovery points, which are plentiful thanks to Veeam Backup from Storage Snapshots.

Recovery is faster and easier with Veeam too. Instant VM Recovery® lets the IT team restart a failed VM from a regular backup in minutes.

“If we needed to restore a whole VM with the legacy backup tool, we could only do it after hours because recovery affected the production environment,” Rasivhaga said. “Sometimes whole VM recovery could take days; it takes minutes with Veeam.”

Granular recovery with Veeam takes minutes too. NDMC uses Veeam Explorer™ to gain instant visibility into backups of Microsoft Exchange and HP StoreServ snapshots for fast item recovery.

Visibility is key for NDMC, particularly visibility into its backup structure. Veeam provides real-time monitoring and alerting to notify staff members of backup and performance issues, enabling them to resolve issues before users are impacted.

“It’s so easy to identify where problems lie with Veeam Availability Suite because you see the complete picture—hosts, VMs and data stores,” Rasivhaga said. “For example, if a VMware update is due, it’s easy to see with Veeam.”

Two of NDMC’s favorite Veeam management features are dashboards and the knowledge base. Dashboards offer single-click access to performance data and knowledge base articles, providing immediate access to the information needed to troubleshoot issues and maintain availability.

“Dashboards give us a quick view of data, and built-in widgets display a list of important events and efficiency indicators, such as the total number of available restore points for protected VMs,” Rasivhaga said. “With Veeam, it’s so much easier to manage backups, recovery and DR.”

Another reason it’s so easy for NDMC to manage backups is because the IT staff backs up Windows-based desktops and laptops to the same backup repository (HP ProLiant Gen8 Server) that holds VM backups. Veeam Endpoint Backup provides a simple, reliable and free way for organisations like NDMC to back up vital data and recover it in the event of an unexpected hardware failure, file corruption or accidental deletion.

“It’s just as easy to restore files and application items from endpoint backups as it is from VM backups,” Rasivhaga said. “Veeam makes everything easy.”

The Results

Fast, frequent backup from HP StoreServ snapshots
Fast, frequent backups from HP StoreServ snapshots throughout the day with Veeam Availability Suite give NDMC multiple restore points, yet there’s nearly zero impact on the production environment. Veeam leverages storage snapshot functionality to reduce the impact on production from vSphere snapshot removal during backup and replication.

Verified recoverability of every backup
NDMC relies on Veeam’s SureBackup to verify the recoverability of every backup. NDMC also relies on Veeam to recover whole VMs, files and individual files in minutes rather than hours like the legacy backup tool.

Deep visibility into the backup infrastructure
Veeam’s real-time monitoring and alerting notify NDMC of performance issues in the backup infrastructure, enabling the IT staff to resolve issues before the production environment and users are impacted.

Quote from HP, Adam Day, Sales Specialist:

“HP and Veeam combine two award winning products to provide granular restores from reliable application-consistent snapshots with Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots which leverages the snapshots created on HP 3PAR StoreServ, allowing customers such as the NDMC a best of breed and easy to use data protection solution to cover all their storage and protection requirements.”

The National Disaster Management Centre
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