Brewing great beer requires more than water, malts, hops and yeast. Brewing great beer requires data. No one knows that better than New Belgium, a prolific and fast-growing craft brewery that relies on data to guide beer production and distribution. To keep up with demand, New Belgian brews beer all day and night, which means data must be protected and available around the clock. Adam Little, Senior Systems Administrator at New Belgium, said legacy backup wasn’t up to the task.
“Our data grows by up to 40% each year, but legacy backup wasn’t scalable,” Little said. “Backup and recovery were slow and unreliable, and monitoring and reporting were limited, putting our data at risk.”
Little said New Belgium’s most critical data is in Microsoft Dynamics 365, an interconnected enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management system. Sales associates, who are called Beer Rangers, store data related to their customers in Dynamics 365. The system also manages and facilitates the supply chain.
“Dynamics controls almost everything we do — from what beer we brew to where it’s going and how it’s getting there,” Little said. “A big part of brewing is forecasting, so Dynamics also helps us make critical manufacturing decisions. If Dynamics and its data aren’t available, downtime is possible, and downtime could prevent 24-hour brewing.”
If Dynamics and data are unavailable, Belgium Brewing doesn’t know what customers ordered. “Did they order three pallets of Fat Tire or 30 pallets? If it’s 30, then we need to brew Fat Tire all day long,” Little said.
New Belgium produces more than a dozen different beers in 500,000 bottles daily. One day of downtime could cost the company thousands of dollars. Little said that’s why he demonstrated Veeam® Backup & Replication™ to his colleagues.
“I wanted to show them what Veeam could do for the business,” he said. “I used it in my last job at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, where Veeam helped keep the casino open day and night. I knew it could do the same for New Belgium.”
Veeam became the toast of the town at New Belgium Brewing Company because it helps keeps beer production and distribution on track to meet worldwide demand. Veeam also puts backups to work for predictive analytics that hone business intelligence, and it and saves 800 manhours and $100,000 in backup costs annually.
When New Belgium was just starting out, predictive analytics helped determine what types of beers would sell best in new markets. That’s how the craft brewer predicted California would favor India pale ales (IPAs), which proved to be true. Now that New Belgium sells in every state, predictive analytics help determine which beers will sell best in each city.
“Will the city favor an IPA, and if so, will it favor a double IPA like Voodoo Ranger Imperial or a hazy IPA like Voodoo Ranger Juicy Haze?” Little said. “Analytic data is a great business tool, but it wasn’t a viable option until we started leveraging our backups with Veeam. When sales for Juicy Haze grew a record 160% in a six-week period, predictive analytics helped us anticipate that demand, and Veeam data protection helped us meet demand. We trust Veeam to support the business, and that trust led us to roll it out to every site.”
Veeam backs up 400 TB across 550 virtual machines (VMs) at several sites from Nimble Storage snapshots to Dell EMC Data Domain. Data extrapolation for forecasting occurs in Veeam DataLabs™ where the IT team creates a virtual lab from storage snapshot that remains isolated from the production environment. The lab is called On-Demand Sandbox™, and it’s also where team members verify recoverability of backups for Dynamics 365 using Veeam SureBackup®. To recover granularly from Dynamics, they use Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft SQL Server.
“Veeam Explorer bailed us out when we lost the ability to print labels from Dynamics for our pallets,” Little said “Each pallet holds 60 cases of beer, and there were 30 trucks lined up outside of our warehouse waiting for pallets to be loaded. Veeam recovered what we needed from a backup, and we were printing labels within five minutes. If we hadn’t been able to print, we would have had to send the trucks away and miss delivery deadlines.”
Little said Veeam also saves money and time. “Monitoring and reporting helped us right size our VMs, saving $100,000 in backup infrastructure costs each year, and we save nearly 800 hours in troubleshooting time because Veeam is easy to use and dependable. We use this time to improve business processes through technology like video collaboration and unified meetings, which really paid off during COVID-19. Having extra time also enabled us to work with our colleagues in sales to align reporting and forecasting for beer production. IT is no longer a cost center at New Belgium because Veeam helps us affect change within the business.”
Next New Belgium in considering Veeam for boosting ransomware protection through immutable, backup repositories in Linux. “Preventing malicious encryption and deletion without using specialized on-prem storage or tape would be a big benefit,” Little said. “It would be great for the business to have a separate Veeam repository that protects backups from internal and external attacks.”
Helps keep beer production and distribution on track to meet worldwide demand
“Our data is protected and available because of Veeam, which helps keep beer production and distribution on track and on time,” Little said. “Veeam also puts our backups to work so we can extract better predictive analytics from our data and determine what beers will sell best in a particular place.”
Puts backups to work for predictive analytics that hone business intelligence
“We’re mining valuable insights from data, so we know we’re selling the right beer in the right markets,” Little said. “Veeam helps us predict which of our beers a city will favor.”
Saves 800 manhours and $100,000 in backup costs each year
“Any time we’re not managing the backup infrastructure is extra time we use to add business value,” Little said. “Veeam is so much more than a backup solution.”
New Belgium Brewing Company has pedaled its way to success. The company traces its origin to a bike ride through Belgium that inspired the founder to start a business and create a flagship beer: Fat Tire ale. Today New Belgium produces nearly 1 million barrels of beer annually, making it the fourth-largest craft brewer in the United States and the 11th largest brewer overall. Breweries are located in Fort Collins, Colorado, where the company began in 1991, and in Asheville, North Carolina. New Belgium employs 800 people and is owned by Lion Little World Beverages, a Kirin Holdings company.
New Belgium brews beer 24 hours every day to keep up with demand across the nation and in countries such as Canada, Sweden, Norway, South Korea, Japan and Australia. The data used to brew beer must be protected and available around the clock, so when slow, unreliable backup and recovery combined with limited monitoring and reporting put data at risk, New Belgium tapped a new solution for data protection.