The business challenge
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, energy company Naturgy Argentina knew it would be vital to adapt rapidly to continue to deliver excellent customer service.
“Our business processes used to rely heavily on manual, paper-based work,” said Maria Fricher, a member of the Systems and Architecture Technology team at Naturgy. “Customers typically engaged with Naturgy via our branches or service centers and received their energy bills in the mail. When the pandemic disrupted these channels, Naturgy got on the fast track to digital transformation.”
In response, Naturgy shaped end-to-end digital workflows—enabling customers to complete key journeys such as onboarding, payments and support online and on mobile. These new capabilities are underpinned by an on-premises infrastructure comprising 188 Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) and 61 HPE bare-metal servers, containing approximately 65 TB of data.
“Within a matter of months, the number of apps across our IT environment had almost doubled,” said Fricher. “Moving to digital customer services has made business continuity an even more important focus for Naturgy. Customers now expect the ability to manage their accounts online 24/7, so our service-level agreements [SLAs] for availability have become much tighter.”
In the past, Naturgy used IBM Spectrum Protect to deliver data protection capabilities for its core business applications. However, the system made it complex and time-consuming for IT administers to create, verify and manage data backups. Crucially, the previous approach led to lengthy restore times, which increased the risk of business disruption in a disaster recovery scenario.
“Around the world, cyberattacks on utility companies are becoming more common,” said Fricher. “To avoid falling victim to ransomware and other cyber threats, we decided to look for a more effective approach to data protection.”
The Veeam solution
After reviewing solutions from a number of leading vendors, Naturgy selected Veeam Availability Suite as its new data protection platform.
“In order to get the most out of IBM Spectrum Protect, you need a great deal of in-depth technical knowledge —it’s not an intuitive system,” said Fricher. “With Veeam, it’s the complete opposite. One of the reasons we selected the solution was our experience during the proof of concept. We deployed a free trial version and asked one of our junior team members to put it to the test. Without any formal training, he was able to set up the solution to create and manage backups. Even though the Veeam solution is really easy to use, we don’t have to compromise on functionality: we can protect our VMs and physical servers from data loss and cyberattacks from a single point of control.”
Working with local Veeam business partner Commit IT, Naturgy deployed and configured the Veeam solution to back up its production VMs automatically. The company stores backups at both its primary and disaster recovery data centers, enhancing resilience in the event of an issue with its production systems.
“Installing the Veeam solution took just a couple of days, and within a few weeks we were fully operational,” said Fricher. “Throughout the project, the support we received from Veeam and Commit IT was brilliant. Whenever we had a question, we knew we’d get answers quickly.”
Since moving to the new solution, Naturgy has reduced the time required to manage backup processes. Equally importantly, the company can now restore its business applications faster in the event of an unplanned outage or cyberattack—helping to ensure maximum availability for digital customer services.
“We’re extremely pleased with what we’ve achieved with Veeam,” said Fricher. “We’ve already started a project to back up our network attached storage using Veeam, after which we’ll decommission the old IBM system entirely. We’re interested in exploring other capabilities, too. For example, the Veeam Backup Validator utility will allow us to verify the integrity of backup files without extracting VM data, which will make it much faster and easier to confirm that our backups have completed successfully.”
- Accelerates disaster recovery, protecting mission-critical digital services.
“Since Naturgy began its digital transformation, backup, recovery and availability have shot up to the top of the agenda,” said Fricher. “Thanks to Veeam, our lean IT team can ensure that customers can sign up for and access our services online.”
- Facilitates off-site backups, reducing the threat of cyberattacks.
Using the Veeam solution, Naturgy automatically creates copies of its VMs at a disaster recovery site, helping to mitigate the risk posed by ransomware and other forms of cyberattack.
- Easy and intuitive to use, cutting training requirements for new employees.
“One of our IT administrators recently moved to a new role, which meant that I temporarily took over management of our backup processes,” said Fricher. “The Veeam solution is so straightforward that I got up to speed pretty much straight away—and training new members of staff takes no time at all.”