The Business Challenge
Like most public school districts in the United States, the Appleton Area School District (AASD) operates under strict budgetary restrictions. Despite these restrictions, the district built a robust IT infrastructure by implementing cost-effective, reliable solutions that require infrequent manual intervention, giving the small IT staff time to focus on its mission—meeting the computing needs of students and staff and the operational needs of the district.
AASD was an early adopter of virtualization and one of the first organizations in Wisconsin to adopt Cisco UCS, which unifies computing, networking, management, storage and virtualization. Ninety-eight percent of the IT infrastructure is virtualized on VMware vSphere; therefore, 160 virtual machines (VMs) run everything from Microsoft SQL Server to a student management system. A 10 Gigabyte Internet fiber connection links the district’s two data centers.
IT functioned exceedingly well, except for VM backups. They didn’t complete within the nightly backup window, often spilling into the next workday and consuming resources that prevented staff from accessing their emails or Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Backup reliability was an issue too. The IT team spent six hours managing failed backups each week.
“We were lucky to get one successful backup per server per week,” said Brent Braun, Network Infrastructure Security Specialist for AASD. “With the size of our IT environment, we needed a backup solution that we could set up and forget about—a solution that would take care of VM backup for us, giving us more time to work in other areas of the data center. It was a no-brainer to look for a backup solution that had been designed specifically for virtualized environments.”
AASD’s backup tool had not been designed for virtualized environments. Instead, it had been designed for physical environments and retrofitted for VMs. Because the tool required agents, AASD’s IT staff spent precious time and money installing agents (and their updates) in VMs.
Braun and his colleagues researched backup solutions and focused on one: Veeam® Backup Management Suite™. Not only did Veeam meet their backup requirements, it also offered monitoring, reporting and capacity planning for their backup infrastructure.
AASD went one step further. Braun and his colleagues asked Heartland Business Systems, which had helped them choose Cisco UCS, for an opinion about Veeam. A respected technology solutions provider to corporate, healthcare, education, government and nonprofit organizations, Heartland agreed that Veeam was their best choice.
The Veeam Solution
Veeam Backup Management Suite gave AASD exactly what it needed: a cost-effective, reliable solution that was designed specifically for VM backup and management.
“Veeam took backups off our plate, affording us more time to solve issues for end users,” Braun said. “With Veeam, we don’t have to troubleshoot backups; we just look at the backup status report generated each day. Veeam even adds new VMs to backup jobs automatically. There is very little manual work with Veeam.”
Braun said backup with Veeam is much faster compared to backup with the previous tool.
“The difference is like night and day,” he continued. “Backups that used to take up to 36 hours with the previous tool now complete within our nightly backup window with Veeam. Best of all: we don’t have to babysit backups anymore. We go about the day without doublechecking backups.”
AASD uses Veeam to back up VMs between data centers and to recover entire VMs, files and individual items in Microsoft PowerPoint, Word, Excel and SQL. In the future, Veeam will replicate VMs between data centers and copy backups to a third site.
The IT staff also plans to delve into Veeam’s multiple recovery capabilities, including SureBackup®, which verifies the recoverability of backups (and replicas) in an isolated environment called Virtual Lab, and On-Demand Sandbox, which is a safe, secluded place for training, testing and troubleshooting.
Veeam helps AASD manage its backup infrastructure through monitoring, reporting and capacity planning.
Real-time, unattended monitoring helps the district identify and react to issues quickly through alarm dashboards that offer single-click drill-down to objects and performance graphs. Monitoring also provides utilization and performance analysis to optimize resources and achieve the highest levels of availability.
Veeam reporting helps the district identify servers with open snapshots. Reports are available for a number of additional functions, such as identifying unprotected VMs, tracking the status of backup and verification jobs and mapping the backup infrastructure.
Capacity planning with Veeam is straightforward too. Advanced analytics take the guesswork out of capacity planning by examining trends, identifying over-committed resources and offering flexible what-if modeling.
Braun said Veeam Backup Management Suite is affordable.
“Veeam is 74% less expensive than our previous backup tool,” he explained. “Over the course of five years, Veeam saves us more than $86,000. That’s a significant savings for any organization operating under a strict budget.”
Fast, reliable backups save 300+ hours each year
The district’s IT staff no longer spends six hours each week managing failed backups. Veeam Backup Management Suite provides high-speed, dependable backups that complete within the nightly backup window, as well as reliable recovery of whole VMs, files and application items.
“The staff is surprised how quickly we can restore their Word and Excel files,” Braun said.
“Before Veeam, backups failed so often that we could rarely recover files.”
Efficient virtualization management increases availability
Veeam Backup Management Suite delivers the data protection, visibility and control AASD needs to get the most from its vSphere environment. Real-time monitoring and alerting, automated and on-demand reporting and capacity planning optimize resource usage and improve availability.
Affordable pricing saves district $86,000 in backup costs
AASD saved more than $86,000 when it replaced its backup tool with Veeam Backup Management Suite. Using the previous tool for one year cost more than twice as much as using Veeam for five years.