The IT team at Blokker B.V. supports datacenters and distribution centers in the Netherlands and Belgium. Most of the team works in the Amsterdam datacenter, which is 90% virtualized on VMware vSphere. Eighty Windows and 20 Linux virtual machines (VMs) run critical management systems for inventory, finance and human resources. Fifteen physical machines run legacy applications.
Team members backup their physical machines with a legacy backup tool. They tried using the same tool to backup their VMs but ran into several issues. Backup was slow, taking up to 12 hours to complete, and not all VMs could be backed up each day. Backup also required a lot of storage; therefore, the team could only retain a few days of backups.
“We experienced two more issues with the legacy backup tool in our VMware environment,” said Joost Hermans, IT Systems Administrator for Blokker B.V. “When we installed a new version of the legacy backup software we had to install new agents on each VM. If we forgot to install an agent, we’d go several days without backup, which defeated the whole purpose.”
“The other issue was snapshots,” Hermans continued. “Snapshots weren’t consistently removed after backup. This caused a problem in our production environment when a snapshot of a database server continued running for months. The server housed our human resources management system, and the snapshot caused it to slow down so much that people in the HR department complained about delays in their work process. It took two days to find and remove that snapshot.”
Blokker needed modern data protection built for today’s virtual world.
“We decided our ideal VM backup solution would be agentless, fast and have built-in deduplication to save on backup storage,” Hermans said. “Around this time we were also looking for a way to monitor our VMs. We had some basic reporting capabilities in place, but we needed proactive monitoring and alerting to determine if problems were looming.”
Blokker’s IT team chose Veeam Backup Management Suite™—a powerful, easy-to-use and affordable solution designed specifically for virtualization that provides backup, replication, monitoring and reporting for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
“One of the main reasons we picked Veeam is because it’s agentless,” Hermans said. “Maintaining agents takes a lot of time, and we didn’t want to run the risk of going days without backups if we forgot to install an agent on a VM during a software upgrade.”
“Another reason we picked Veeam is because it’s reliable,” he continued. “The legacy product didn’t work reliably or efficiently in the virtual environment. Even though it offered image-based backup, it didn’t consistently delete the backup snapshot, which slowed down the server and the users accessing a system running on it.”
Veeam complements Blokker’s VMware installation. It quickly and reliably backs up VMs while VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) supports storage replication for disaster recovery (DR).
Hermans said Veeam delivers major benefits to Blokker’s IT team.
“The first benefit is ease of use. Veeam’s user interface is more straightforward and easier to use than the legacy backup user interface, which was overcomplicated and uninviting.”
“Another benefit is faster backup. It used to take nearly 12 hours to backup our critical VMs, but with Veeam we can backup every VM every night because backup only takes two hours. And, we can test the recoverability of each backup. With SureBackup®we can be 100% sure we can recover our VMs.”
Hermans said file-level recovery is much faster with Veeam too. Recovering a file used to take up to three hours, but now it takes two minutes with Veeam. “We support 600 users, so we get file recovery requests every day,” he said. “Veeam makes it so easy to restore a file that my colleagues who aren’t familiar with Veeam can do it easily on their own.”
Hermans and his colleagues tested a Veeam capability called U-AIR® (Universal Application-Item Recovery) on Active Directory in their production environment. They successfully restored complete objects and individual object attributes quickly, such as phone numbers and email addresses.
Another benefit to using Veeam is reduced backup storage consumption. Because Veeam has built-in deduplication and compression, backup files require less storage, enabling the IT team to retain three weeks of data rather than two days’ worth.
Veeam Backup Management Suite also provides Blokker’s IT team with 24x7 realtime monitoring and automated on-demand reporting to help the team improve the performance and availability of its virtual infrastructure.
“Veeam monitoring helps us identify and react to incidents quickly, and the reports help us understand exactly what’s happening with disk space, datastores and snapshots,” Hermans said.
VM backup is 83% faster and file-level recovery is 99% faster
With Veeam, Blokker’s IT team backs up all VMs in two hours each night. Before Veeam, backup took nearly 12 hours and couldn’t accommodate all VMs. File-level recovery is faster with Veeam too, taking two minutes rather than three hours. This is important for Blokker’s IT team because users often request file recovery.
Backup is agent-free and requires less storage space
Unlike physical machine backup, Veeam doesn’t require agents for backup. Therefore, team members don’t have to worry about their VMs being vulnerable if they forgot to install an agent during a software upgrade. Veeam reduces backup storage consumption, enabling the team to retain three weeks of data rather than a few days.
Monitoring and reporting enable proactive management
Veeam offers Blokker real-time monitoring and virtual infrastructure analysis with visibility down to individual VMs. Monitoring dashboards offer intuitive single-click drill-down to object details, performance data and knowledge-base articles, putting all the information team members need within easy reach. Predefined reports and automated reporting help them optimize resource configuration and usage.