RC Willey’s success has always been underpinned by the principles set out by its founder Rufus Call Willey in the 1930s: integrity, hard work and going the extra mile to satisfy each customer. Since joining the Berkshire Hathaway group in 1995, the company’s steady growth reflects the continuing importance of those principles, embodied in a modern, technologically empowered organization that prioritizes efficient operations and reliably excellent customer service.
Delivering on these objectives involves a complex choreography of supply and demand, with customer orders flowing in through RC Willey’s store network and online platform, and inventory items in constant motion from suppliers to distribution centers to stores and customers’ homes. If an IT failure disrupts these flows, RC Willey simply cannot do business.
As a result, the company has developed a philosophy of total redundancy in its IT infrastructure, which includes its approach to data protection.
“The whole data protection process needs to be totally reliable from end to end,” said Chris Weiss, Senior Systems Administrator at RC Willey. “It doesn’t matter how fast your backups are if you can’t recover your systems within a reasonable time. And it doesn’t matter how quick your recovery process is if the data wasn’t backed up successfully in the first place.”
Some years ago, RC Willey began a strategic shift towards virtualizing its infrastructure, and the IT team realized that the total number of virtual machines they needed to manage — and protect — would start growing rapidly. Concerned that the existing backup tools wouldn’t scale to support this new landscape, the team began looking for a more powerful and versatile solution.
After evaluating multiple solutions, RC Willey selected Veeam® Availability Suite™ as the core platform for its new data protection strategy
“The thing that really impressed us at the beginning is that Veeam just works,” said Chris Weiss. “It was immediately much easier to use than our previous tools, and we were quickly able to build out a disaster recovery solution that made recovery simple and robust.”
Eight years later, RC Willey is still just as enthusiastic about Veeam’s reliability, and has expanded its use of the solution far beyond its original deployment. In addition to over 500 VMware virtual machines, Veeam now also protects more than 50 physical servers, and provides an air-gapped tape backup solution for long-term archiving too.
Recently, RC Willey has used Veeam to create a tiered backup infrastructure, using the solution’s Continuous Data Protection (CDP) features to safeguard its most critical services and virtually eliminate the risk of data loss. In addition to CDP, the company also runs full backups every weekend and incremental backups on a nightly basis, protecting around 2PB of data per week.
“Visibility is great too,” says Chris Weiss. “Veeam ONE™ gives us realtime insight into what’s happening with our backups, and it’s included in the package. It gives us richer information than other reporting tools that cost significantly more!”
With all this success, the IT team has no intention of resting on its laurels. As the company looks to move its core ERP applications onto Red Hat Enterprise Linux servers, embracing Veeam’s support for Linux agents is next on the priority list — and there’s also potential to use Veeam for the company’s Microsoft 365 environment.
Looking ahead, the team is keeping a close eye on new Veeam features, such as SureBackup® to confirm that all backups are recoverable, and Veeam DataLabs™ to provide sandboxed replicas for testing and patching.