John I. Haas, Inc. owns and operates hop farms, warehouses, pellet and extraction plants and isomerization facilities in the northwestern United States. Each September, the company goes into harvest mode, and every business unit is focused on intake and output, from picking in the fields to shipping to purchasers.
"IT is the backbone of all we do," said Theresa Brownfield, Lead Principal IS Operations Engineer for Haas. "Every critical system and application is virtualized on VMware vSphere including our ERP system, which accounts for production processes; Microsoft Exchange Server, which we use for email and document storing; and Microsoft SharePoint, which holds our sales information. Virtual servers are important all year long, but during harvest, protecting them is our top priority. Even a minute of downtime would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars."
Like many companies, Haas attempted to back up its virtual machines (VMs) with the same tool it uses to back up its physical machines. "It was a nightmare," Brownfield said. "The legacy product’s agents never played well with VMware, so backup was slow and challenging. Customer support was terrible too. We heard inconsistent advice from one support rep to another, and sometimes we knew more about the product than the support reps. We needed a better VM backup solution before the next harvest.
Haas’s IT team chose Veeam Backup & Replication™. It provides fast, flexible and reliable recovery of virtualized applications and data for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V.
"We saw Veeam during a presentation, and it just blew us away," Brownfield said. "The thing that clinched it for us is the test environment. We had been struggling for years to come up with an easy way to create test environments without shutting down production servers while we made copies, clones, etc."
Brownfield is referring to Veeam’s On-Demand Sandbox. It lets Haas’s IT team run VMs directly from any restore point (full or incremental) in an isolated Virtual Lab, providing a working copy of the production environment. "We’re building roughly eight to 10 test environments at any given time," Brownfield said. "Having that many test environments isolated from production and refreshed frequently would be impossible to do manually. With Veeam, it’s not only possible but easy and automated."
In addition to a user-friendly test environment, Brownfield said she and her colleagues needed a fast, stable data protection solution designed for virtualization. "Our legacy backup tool felt like a bolt-on piece of equipment—like protecting the virtual environment was an afterthought," she explained. "Veeam feels like it was built specifically to support VMs."
Brownfield is correct: Veeam was designed specifically for virtualization. It unifies backup and replication in a single solution (Haas’ IT team will replicate VMs to a new datacenter currently under construction), and its vPower® technology leverages virtualization to reinvent data protection. vPower runs a VM directly from a compressed and deduplicated backup file on regular backup storage, enabling the IT team to recover a failed VM in two minutes or less. It is called Instant VM Recovery, and it’s another capability that sets Veeam apart from Haas’ legacy backup tool.
Another differentiator between the two is speed. "Veeam backups are super fast," Brownfield said. "Our Exchange Server is 550 GB. Before Veeam, a backup took 16 hours. With Veeam, it takes 20 minutes. Fast backups make scheduling backups a lot easier too. With the legacy tool, we were constantly juggling schedules because we had to pick and choose which servers to back up since backups took so long. With Veeam, every VM gets backed up every night. We set everything to run, and it’s done!"
Daily backups of all VMs
Protecting VMs, especially during harvest season, is a top priority for Haas’ IT team. "Shortly after we decided to go with Veeam, but before we implemented it, we had a crisis with our legacy backup tool. We didn’t want to endure endless downtime in the backup environment, so we installed Veeam and within two hours every VM was backed up. Veeam is something we can always count on: Every VM is backed up every day."
Ease-of-use and improved manageability
While the On-Demand Sandbox was the main reason that Haas’ IT team choose Veeam Backup & Replication, its overall ease-of-use and manageability were also important. "Implementation was fast and effortless," Brownfield said. "We were backing up in minutes after installing the software. Veeam has a nice clean interface; it’s not bloated like the legacy backup tool. My advice to peers? Do backups right, right from the start. Get Veeam and you’ll be amazed. It’s really a lifesaver. It’s so easy and goes way beyond a backup and recovery solution."
Smart and timely support
Veeam Software offers multiple avenues of customer support: community forums, a support portal, a resource center with how-to and best-practice documentation and toll-free phone numbers. "Veeam’s support people are wonderful," Brownfield said. "We love that someone answers right away and knows the products inside and out. In the past, we sat on the phones for hours when we had a problem with the legacy tool. With Veeam, we get the answers we need right away because the support reps know exactly how to solve an issue. It’s fantastic."