The business challenges
Smoky Lake County offers countless opportunities for affordable country
living, outdoor adventure, agricultural expansion and regional development.
The area features majestic lakes, scenic trails, championship golf courses,
diverse neighborhoods and a 50-mile stretch of undeveloped land along the
North Saskatchewan River. Smoky Lake County provides a small-town feel,
a progressive community spirit and modern amenities.
Modern amenities are indispensable in rural regions spanning thousands
of kilometers. Residents rely on the county to provide essential services
such as oil, natural gas and water. Most residents don’t have piped water
systems due to high installation costs and extreme cold weather. Instead,
they rely on automated bulk water dispensing systems.
“Water dispensing systems are always vital, but when you live in an area
prone to wildfires, they’re a necessity,” said Brian Niziol, IT Technician
at Smoky Lake County. “Fire and rescue services are a necessity too. Our
challenge was protecting the IT systems supporting these services.”
Smoky Lake County was using Windows Backup to protect the IT systems.
Niziol said backup was slow, and he was never sure if every backup
completed successfully. Recovery was slow too, and it was unpredictable.
“I had no confidence in my ability to recover from a backup,” he said.
“If we can’t recover the IT systems supporting water, fire and rescue
services, then we’ve failed our residents. These services can mean the
difference between life and death.”
Another challenge was maintaining compliance with the Access
to Information Act. It gives Canadians the right to access records held
by government institutions.
“We’re required by law to retain information for five years, including
emails, but I was worried about being able to recover them from our
Microsoft Exchange backups. As it turned out, the solution we chose saved
us from losing all of our emails on two separate occasions. Now we know
we can’t live without it.”
The Veeam solution
Smoky Lake County replaced legacy backup with Veeam® Backup
Essentials™. Veeam protects the IT systems supporting all municipal
services for residents, and it helps maintain regulatory compliance with
the Access to Information Act. Veeam also delivered a one-time savings
of $27,000 in backup costs shortly after deployment.
“Veeam offers a level of protection that’s indispensable,” Niziol said.
“I’m absolutely confident the IT systems supporting our fire, water and
rescue services are backed up successfully and can be recovered quickly.
Veeam helps us protect our systems and our residents.”
One of the most important systems is a proprietary Geographic Information
System (GIS) that maps the location of an emergency and routes emergency
vehicles to it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“Communication between our emergency service operators and the dispersal
of their resources depend on Veeam protecting GIS,” Niziol said. “Veeam
is mission-critical software for us.”
The county’s GIS has two interfaces. One is used by emergency service
operators and the other is used by the public.
“Anyone can access the public portion from our website, including other
municipalities,” Niziol said. “They can see exactly where the emergency
is located and what services we’ve deployed. They monitor the situation
and send their emergency personnel and vehicles if we need them. Wildfires
often require the help of multiple fire departments.”
Another critical component is the county’s financial management system,
which is supported by Microsoft SQL Server. It incorporates accounting,
payroll, cash flow, tax collection and expenditures.
“If we don’t have access to our financial management system, no one can
work,” Niziol said. “We don’t worry about that happening because Veeam
Explorer™ for Microsoft SQL recovers anything we need in minutes.”
Niziol relies on additional Veeam recovery features.
“Since we deployed Veeam, we’ve had two catastrophic incidents where
we lost all email. On the first occasion, Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft
Exchange restored individual mailboxes. On the second occasion, Instant
VM Recovery® restored the virtual machine supporting Exchange. In both
cases, we were up and running fast, enabling us to maintain compliance with
the Access to Information Act.”
Microsoft Exchange is so critical to the county that the county considered
purchasing a backup email server for redundancy, but the cost of the server
($22,000) and mailbox licenses ($5,000) was prohibitive.
“We have complete confidence in our ability to restore our email server from
a Veeam backup or replica, so we saved $27,000,” he said. “Veeam helps
me be the most efficient administrator I can be. It’s a reliable solution that
works every time.”
- Protects the IT systems supporting all municipal services for residents
Veeam backs up and replicates 3 TB across a Microsoft
“Backup and replication are extremely fast and reliable with Veeam, but
recovery is what amazes me the most,” Niziol said. “One of my favorite
features is Instant VM Recovery, so I’m really looking forward to trying
Multi-VM Instant Recovery. If we experience a catastrophic outage, Veeam
will likely reduce recovery time by at least half, getting us back up and
running in record time.”
- Helps maintain regulatory compliance with the Access to Information Act
“During one of the catastrophic email incidents, Veeam recovered my boss’
mailbox in minutes,” Niziol said. “It’s never good when your boss loses
email. Veeam saved my job that day.”
- Delivers a one-time savings of $27,000 in backup costs shortly after
“You can’t underestimate the value of complete confidence,”
Niziol said. “That’s why we saved $27,000. We’re so confident in our
ability to recover our email server from a Veeam backup or replica that
we don’t need to spend money on a redundant backup email server.”