Superior technical support is extremely important to OMICRON. Technical support is available 24x7 on all continents. Via a dedicated customer area on OMICRON’s web site, customers can submit questions and download software updates, manuals, presentations and reports. This level of customer support is made possible through the efforts of highly qualified technicians in 20 branch offices and an IT infrastructure rooted in virtualisation and storage snapshot technology.
To provide 24x7 technical support, technicians require 24x7 access to virtualised applications and data on 600 VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) containing 175TB of information. Without 24x7 access, technicians can’t serve customers the way OMICRON intends—and the way customers appreciate and expect.
To ensure 24x7 access, the branch offices deployed Veeam® Backup & Replication™ for local VM backup and fast recovery. For recovery redundancy, the branch offices transfer backup copies to OMICRON’s primary data centre using Veeam’s Built-in WAN Acceleration to avoid latency where bandwidth is limited. If one of the branch offices suffers a catastrophic incident such as a fire, the primary data centre will recover VMs from a backup copy and reinstate access to technicians. This is where OMICRON’s business challenge began. The backup tool was difficult to use and slow to restore VMs. Recovery could take hours, but technicians need 24x7 access for business continuity.
The backup tool required software add-ons before backing up and recovering Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint and Active Directory, among others. The software add-ons had slightly different interfaces, making recovery complicated. The backup tool also required agents to be deployed and updated in each VM, which was time-consuming. Agents caused production VMs to stammer during backup, which impacted employees.
OMICRON’s first inclination was to replace the backup tool with Veeam Backup & Replication, but the company wanted to rule out other solutions based on its top three requirements for 24x7 availability.
First, the solution had to recover quickly from backups, preferably in minutes so access could be restored fast to the branch offices. Second, the solution had to integrate well with NetApp Storage solutions yet be storage-agnostic because OMICRON has mixedstorage environments. The primary data centre uses NetApp FAS8040 for production storage and NetApp E-series for backup storage, while branch offices use direct attached storage or NetApp FAS2240 for production storage and QNAP NAS for backup storage. Third, the solution had to be easy to use so application administrators in the primary data centre could recover VMs, files and items on their own.
“We looked at several solutions, but only Veeam best met all of our requirements— and went above and beyond,” said Bernd Flatz, Team Leader of the IT Infrastructure at OMICRON. “Veeam recovers in minutes, integrates seamlessly with NetApp, is storage agnostic, simple to use and helps us avoid the risk of data loss in our most critical business systems. Veeam is the perfect availability solution for us.”
OMICRON deployed Veeam Backup & Replication in its primary data centre and immediately reinforced its ability to deliver technical service to customers 24x7. OMICRON uses Veeam to restore whole VMs, files and applications items from backups in minutes so branch offices have round-the-clock access to information. Extraordinary technical support is always a top priority.
“Veeam offers the best way for us to provide multi-site availability through frequent backup and fast recovery,” Flatz said.
If one of the branches suffers a catastrophic incident, the primary data centre, which now uses Veeam as well, will restore the branch’s VMs quickly from backup copies, enabling OMICRON to reinstate data access to employees in minutes.
The primary data centre uses Veeam for local backup and recovery of its own VMs too, which reside on NetAPP FAS8040 Metro Cluster. With Veeam, the primary data center makes backups from NetApp storage snapshots and transfers backup copies to a secondary data centre, where the branches’ backup copies reside as well. Each month, Veeam is used to copy backups in the primary data center to an HP MSL 6480 Tape Library.
“We chose NetApp storage for its superior snapshot technology, and we chose Veeam for its high-speed recovery features and seamless integration with NetApp,” Flatz said. “It’s obvious that Veeam was designed for virtualisation—from agentless backup that saves us more than 400 hours each year managing backups and restores—to simplified recovery.”
OMICRON uses Veeam to back up non-critical VMs daily, file server VMs three times a day and SQL Server VMs every hour. Before Veeam, SQL Server VMs were backed up three times a day, which limited OMICRON’s restore points.
OMICRON’s business-critical systems including customer relationship management (CRM), warehouse management and enterprise resource management (ERP) synchronize data between SQL databases. If one system encounters a problem, all systems must be recovered to the same point in time. With Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft SQL, OMICRON can restore to the exact second or to the exact transaction.
“From a business perspective, this gives us the opportunity to recover our critical systems to a previous state that is very close to the time an issue occurred,” Flatz explained. “Veeam helps us minimise the risk for data loss and deliver access to employees as quickly as possible.”
Veeam also helps minimise data loss and restore access quickly to OMICRON’s developers who create the software that customers rely on to run their companies.
“A big part of our business intelligence lies in software development; therefore, our development environment is very important to us,” Flatz said. “Approximately onequarter of our employees are software developers—200 people depend on Veeam to restore their test VMs quickly. They also depend on Veeam to quickly create isolated virtual environments for testing.”
OMICRON’s developers use Veeam to create instant Virtual Labs so they can test new software and update current software in a production-like environment. Flatz and his colleagues also use Virtual Lab to automatically test and verify the recoverability of backups. That functionality is called SureBackup®, and it’s another way to guarantee 24x7 availability.
“One of the things we like best about Veeam is its simplicity,” Flatz said. “Our application administrators find Veeam easy to use too. They restore their own applications quickly and without effort. Veeam has become the availability solution we use across our company.”
NetApp integration and fast recovery enable 24x7 technical service
OMICRON’s technical service makes use of the company’s global network. Experts around the world provide customers with support services. Veeam Backup & Replication contributes to 24x7 customer service by recovering data quickly. Instant VM Recovery® restores a failed VM from a regular backup in minutes and Veeam Explorers recover whole VMs and individual items from backups of NetApp storage snapshots, Active Directory, Exchange, SQL Server and SharePoint.
Frequent backup provides multiple restore points for business-critical
OMICRON’s business-critical systems have SQL Server back ends. Before Veeam, OMICRON could only back up SQL Server VMs three times a day because backup with the previous tool required agents to be deployed in each VM, causing them to stammer during backup. Not only is Veeam agentless, it also makes backups from NetApp storage snapshots, enabling OMICRON to back up SQL VMs every hour. OMICRON can restore to the exact second or to the exact transaction.
Application administrators rely on easy-to-use features
Veeam’s primary use at OMICRON is to restore data quickly and easily so branch offices can provide uninterrupted technical service. However, application administrators also rely on Veeam for fast recovery, and software developers rely on Veeam’s Virtual Lab for testing and troubleshooting.
“Veeam is like everyone says: It’s easy to use; it just works,” Flatz said.