The Business Challenge
The IT team at Antioch USD supports approximately 2,000 employees and more than 18,000 students with access to Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server databases, library systems, and student information. Originally, physical servers were located at each of the district’s 25 schools, but to save costs, the district decided to virtualize the infrastructure and go to a centralized model consolidated at the main office.
Today, nearly 95 percent of Antioch’s servers are virtualized. The IT infrastructure includes nine ESXi hosts running 85 virtual machines (VMs). A disaster recovery (DR) data center is maintained at an off-site location. Initially, the IT team used a conventional tool to back up its VMs but was dissatisfied with the performance, cost and efficiency.
“We collapsed hundreds of servers down to 85 VMs as a cost-saving measure, but very quickly realized that our backup tool was not built to handle a virtual environment,” said Pamela Gengler, Systems Engineer for Antioch USD. “Our vendor’s licensing model was disorganized, and it was difficult to discern how many licenses I actually had. It seemed there were always additional costs, as we had to purchase new agents for each machine we added. But we had made a huge investment with our vendor, and felt that we were stuck with them because it would be too costly to change.”
Gengler heard about Veeam® Backup & Replication™ from Veeam Gold ProPartner AMS.NET, which had been supporting Antioch USD for more than 10 years. “Once we understood Antioch’s backup challenges, it was obvious that Veeam was a good fit,” said Dave Zieker, Senior Account Manager at AMS.NET. “In a virtualized environment, Veeam provides exceptional backup and restore capabilities.”
“I was immediately impressed with how easy it was to set up Veeam, and how consistent the backups were,” Gengler said “When I looked at Veeam’s pricing model, the price break was significant. I could easily demonstrate to school administrators that, in the long run, we would save a lot of money with Veeam.”
The Veeam Solution
Veeam Backup & Replication is a good choice for Antioch because it fully supports the virtual environment. “There is a world of difference between this and our previous solution,” Gengler said. “We were using backup designed for a physical environment adapted for a virtual one. It just wasn’t efficient. Now we have a flexible, easy-to-use tool built specifically for a virtual world.”
After installing Veeam, Gengler’s backup strategy changed from a cumbersome, time-consuming process to a simple, time-saving one. “Before Veeam, I backed up to disk and then to tape, and it took hours,” she explained. “Now I back up to an appliance and it replicates to my DR site. This is much more efficient.”
One of Antioch’s primary concerns is wise use of its budget. According to Gengler, “Initial installation costs were very affordable, but the most important thing is the simplicity of Veeam’s licensing model. There are no hidden fees and, since it is agentless, no additional purchase when I set up a new VM. We have reduced our yearly maintenance and support costs by approximately 40 percent since we installed Veeam.”
Veeam also delivers capabilities that Gengler did not have. Veeam Instant VM Recovery lets her quickly recover an entire VM from a regular backup. “Before Veeam, I might be able to recover an individual file, but I couldn’t recover a full VM,” Gengler said. “Now, it’s a snap. And the granularity of the file-level recovery is amazing. I can recover deleted files quickly, and at any point in time.”
The virtual lab is a feature that Gengler finds useful for testing and troubleshooting software and applications before they are deployed. “We never had a test environment, so whenever we installed a new application, we crossed our fingers,” she said. “Now I can test in an isolated environment. That’s a great option.”
Veeam also includes monitoring capabilities that make Gengler’s job easier. “The first thing I do in the morning is check my dashboard to see if the system is running smoothly,” she explained. This gives me an at-a-glance snapshot into what happened overnight. It’s also really slick that the program automatically writes details of the backups directly into vSphere.”
Replication has become a key component of Antioch’s strategy. “When we first purchased Veeam, we focused on the backup capabilities and did not pay much attention to replication,” Gengler said. “We were backing up to our DR site, so felt that our data was protected. Then I realized that it would be much better to have those VMs ready to turn on at our DR site rather than restoring them from a backup file. That has turned out to be a huge asset.”
Gengler says that support from her previous vendor was inconsistent and often did not help her resolve issues. “The support we have with Veeam is exceptional,” she noted. “I get quick and concise answers, and the team makes me feel like I’m the only client. The convenient on-demand webinars are also a valuable resource. I can access them on my timetable.”
Easy-to-use solution designed specifically for virtual environments
Antioch’s previous backup tool was designed for physical servers so was inefficient and costly for virtual machines. Veeam is easy-to-use and cost-effective because it is designed specifically for virtual environments.
Simple, cost-effective licensing model reduces yearly maintenance and support costs by 40 percent
The licensing model of Antioch’s previous vendor was complicated and costly. Veeam is very affordable to deploy, with a licensing model that has allowed Antioch USD to reduce its yearly costs by 40 percent.
Full VM restores in minutes and file-level recovery is granular and quick
Thanks to Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery, Gengler can quickly restore an entire VM, a capability she did not have previously. Granular file-level recovery means that she can recover individual files, at any point in time, in only seconds.