The Business Challenge
Scania vehicles are designed and built to provide customers with maximum utilisation and minimum cost. To deliver on that promise, Scania Great Britain made vast investments in its dealer network to expand service outlets, increase staff and extend operating hours to increase customer access to local sales and repair services. Raising the bar on customer service meant Scania Great Britain and its dealers required 24x7 availability of virtualised data and applications; however, the legacy backup tool did not cooperate.
Scania Great Britain tried to back up its virtual machines (VMs) to tape with the same tool it had used to back up its physical machines, but the legacy tool could only perform file-level backup and recovery. Both processes were slow, labour-intensive and likely to fail.
“Our dealers work almost all the time, so if they need a file restored—day or night—it must be restored fast,” said Harley Carter, Solutions Architect for Scania Great Britain. “File-level restore from tape could take hours, and since whole VM restore wasn’t possible with the legacy backup tool, we had to rebuild VMs from scratch, which could take days. We quickly realised that the legacy backup tool, which had been great for physical machine backup, was a waste of time with VMs. We had invested in virtualisation and felt we should be able to do much more with backups.”
Carter said time-intensive backup and recovery were frustrating with the legacy backup tool, but nothing compared to the time and cost spent each year on disaster recovery (DR) testing. Scania Great Britain supports its dealer network through a main office that focuses on day-to-day business operations and a finance office that facilitates vehicle financing and insurance. DR testing is required in the finance office for auditing purposes.
“We spent one week preparing for and executing the DR test,” Carter explained. “We also spent a good deal of money to have third-party consultants on site to rebuild VMs and reconfigure applications so we could get back up and running quickly.”
Carter and his colleagues talked to peers in their industry about their frustration with slow backup, time-intensive recovery and costly DR testing.
“They all recommended the same availability solution,” Carter said.
The Veeam Solution
Scania Great Britain deployed Veeam Backup & Replication to ensure 24x7 availability of virtualised systems for its 2,640 users in the two UK offices and dealerships. Veeam provides Scania Great Britain with high-speed backup, replication and recovery as well as quick, easy and free DR testing.
“We were never 100% confident in DR with our legacy backup tool,” Carter said. “We worried about business continuity and didn’t have peace of mind. With Veeam we’re 100% confident we can recover whatever we’ve backed up, giving us complete peace of mind. And, DR testing is so fast and simple that we can test as often as we want. Veeam more than paid for itself during the first DR test.”
DR testing is fast and simple because Veeam Backup & Replication automatically verifies the recoverability of VM backups and replicas. Veeam’s SureBackup and SureReplica start a backup or replica in an isolated environment called a Virtual Lab. Veeam performs a series of tests against the backup or replica and creates a report on its state and condition.
Carter said he and his colleagues rely on Veeam to validate backups and replicas for mission-critical VMs in the main office that run the Intranet, network drives, Microsoft SQL Server, a customer relationship management (CRM) system, a business intelligence (BI) system and a document archiving solution that helps dealers invoice their customers. They also validate backups and replicas for critical VMs in the finance office that run a bespoke Oracle-based financial system, the employee clock-in system and a document archiving solution for legal data. Both offices are almost completely virtualised on VMware vSphere and contain a total of 90 VMs with 10TB of data.
“Veeam delivers 24x7 availability,” Carter said. “We can recover whole VMs, files and items almost instantly, despite our data tripling during the last two years.”
Scania Great Britain uses several high-speed recovery features including Instant VM Recovery to restart a failed VM from a regular backup and Veeam Explorer for Microsoft SQL Server for granular recovery from backups of SQL Server.
"Instant VM Recovery has saved the day for us at least once, and so has Veeam Explorer,” Carter explained. “Our BI system takes feeds from multiple databases and does bulk updates over the weekend. Data became corrupted in the system, but by the time we noticed it, the source files used to conduct the imports had been removed. Rerunning jobs on the source systems can be intensive and we didn’t want to do that during the daytime, so we pulled up one of the restore points in Veeam’s Virtual Lab so that we didn’t impact the live BI VM, and used Veeam Explorer for SQL Server to recover data. The legacy backup tool does not enable business continuity for virtualised systems like Veeam does.”
Ensuring multiple restore points is key for Scania Great Britain; therefore, COMPAREX, a global IT provider and Veeam ProPartner, told Carter about the benefits of Veeam Backup from Storage Snapshots.
“We began working with Scania Great Britain after they had already deployed Veeam,” said Andrew Ramgobin, Virtualisation and Storage Lead at COMPAREX. “They were self-taught and getting a lot out of the solution, but that’s the great thing about Veeam—there’s always more to help companies get the most from virtualisation. For example, we told them how to set backup thresholds to reduce IOPs and create administrative rights for backup engineers. However, our biggest contribution to date was demonstrating Backup from Storage Snapshots.”
Scania Great Britain backs up and replicates VMs residing on NetApp FAS in the finance office from storage snapshots. Because there is little to no impact on the production environment, backups can be made as often as every 15 minutes for multiple restore points.
VMs in the main office reside on different storage—Dell EqualLogic SANs. That’s not an issue because Veeam is storage-agnostic. The IT team backs up these VMs daily using Veeam’s forever forward-incremental backup, which produces a backup chain that includes the first full backup and a set of forward-incremental backups following it. After adding a new restore point to the backup chain, Veeam checks the retention policy set for the job. If Veeam detects an outdated restore point, it removes this point from the backup chain.
“Veeam is flexible in so many ways, helping us get the most from virtualisation,” Carter said. “Veeam even copies our backups to tape so we can leverage our tape libraries.”
Peace of mind: Automatic verification of recovery points
“Not only does Veeam give you peace of mind, it also lets you do what you thought wasn’t possible, like automatic verification of restore points in backups and replicas,” Carter said. “If you’re going to recover, especially in a DR situation, you’ve got to have 100% confidence in your availability solution. It has to work every time. Veeam provides an insurance policy for availability.”
Ease of use: No more troubleshooting failed backups and replicas
“Veeam is so simple to set up and maintain,” Carter continued. “Veeam chugs along and does its thing so we don’t have to constantly worry about and check for failed backups and replicas. If there is a problem with a VM backup, Veeam automatically notifies us and we rerun it. Veeam also automatically verifies restore points for our backups and replicas, so we’re confident they are recoverable.”
Flexibility: Fast, frequent backup and replication from NetApp storage snapshots
“We love Veeam’s flexibility, especially with backups,” Carter said. “We make backups from NetApp storage snapshots as often as we want without impacting production. We also appreciate that Veeam is storage-agnostic so our backup repositories aren’t tied to specific hardware vendors. Veeam’s flexibility also extends to copying our backups to tape.”