Simplot Australia has food manufacturing facilities and offices throughout Australia and in New Zealand. During harvest season, the manufacturing facilities often operate 24x7. Every person and process in these facilities plays a key role in the company’s success, including the virtual machines (VMs) running factory floor applications.
The majority of critical systems and applications at Simplot are virtualised on VMware vSphere. The company’s IT department looks after more than 600 VMs and supports 1,500 employees in 40+ locations. The IT department also oversees approximately 100 physical servers, which include 40 vSphere hosts.
“We use HP Operations Manager to monitor and manage our physical servers, and it works really well for us,” said Steve Price, Systems Engineer for Simplot Australia. “But we weren’t confident in the process we used to monitor and manage our VMs. It provided broad visibility of VMware but didn’t give us insight into individual VMs, and this concerned us as we virtualised more and more critical processes. We wanted to find a VMware monitoring and management solution that integrated well with Operations Manager and provided in-depth visibility so we could see and fix issues quickly.
“For instance, we needed to know if a VM running our factory automation software at one of the manufacturing facilities was having issues before it caused a problem with the food processing line. Our goal was to reduce our mean time to resolution (MTTR) from hours to minutes.”
Simplot Australia turned to Kalibre Ptd Ltd, its trusted advisor on IT infrastructure monitoring since 2007. Nathan Funston, Director of Kalibre, recommended the Veeam® Smart Plug-in™ (SPI) for VMware.
“We suggested Veeam SPI because we knew it would provide the most comprehensive monitoring of Simplot’s VMs as well as detailed reporting for identification of trends and capacity planning,” Funston said. “And, the SPI integrates seamlessly in HP Operations Manager, providing a singe view of the company’s entire IT environment.”
Price said Veeam SPI gives the IT department deep visibility into VM health and performance, enabling him and his colleagues to identify and resolve issues before they affect the company.
“For example, the SPI picks up memory overlay issues and low datastores, which we address before they become problematic,” Price said. “Being able to see and deal with incidents quickly has reduced our MTTR from several hours to minutes.”
The SPI integrates fully with both VMware and HP Operations Manager. It enables all Operations Manager functionality—including alerts, service maps, dashboards, reporting, auditing, notifications, responses and automation—for all VMware components such as vCenter Server, clusters, hosts, VMs, storage and hardware. It includes a detailed health model with hundreds of metrics and events, including advanced metrics such as disk pressure, memory pressure and disk IOPS.
“Having an integrated view of the physical and virtual environments on one console makes monitoring and management easy, and it lets us get even more from Operations Manager,” Price continued. “Now that we have VMware monitoring through it, we have confidence that our vSphere servers are running well too.”
The IT department uses another Veeam solution in its virtual environment: Veeam Backup & Replication™. It combines backup and replication in a single solution and provides fast, flexible and reliable recovery of virtualised applications and data for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. Price and his colleagues use Veeam to replicate VMs between data centers for disaster recovery (DR). Veeam enables streamlined failover to replicated VMs and real failback.
“Veeam saved us from a massive headache when rainwater leaked through the roof at one of the manufacturing facilities,” Price said. “We lost the whole datacenter to water damage, but we were able to fail over to the replicated VMs in another datacenter to get what we needed in no time,” he said. “Fortunately, the damaged facility wasn’t in production mode at the time, but if the food processing lines had been operational and VM replicas hadn’t been in place, the lines could have been down for several hours, costing the company a great deal of money. We are very grateful we had replicated our VMs with Veeam because this really could have been a disaster.”
Reduces MTTR from hours to minutes
The Veeam SPI publishes VMware performance, events, configuration, state and topology in HP Operations Manager, giving Simplot’s IT team in-depth visibility into the virtual environment. “We also get alerts and warnings with the SPI that help us see and proactively resolve situations before they negatively affect the company,” Price said. “Veeam helped us achieve our goal of reducing MTTR from hours to minutes.”
Provides integrated view of virtual and physical environments
Simplot’s IT team didn’t need additional training to monitor and manage the VMware environment in HP Operations Manager because team members continue to use the same Operations Manager console. “It’s easy to manage the virtual and physical environments together now that we have integrated VMware performance information provided by the SPI,” Price said.
Helps ensure VMs are secure Veeam Backup & Replication helped Simplot’s IT team avoid data loss when one of its datacenters became waterlogged and unusable. “If we hadn’t used Veeam to replicate VMs between datacenters at that production facility, it could have taken hours to retrieve the VMs and their data from backups,” Price explained. “When it’s harvest season and we’re in production mode, we don’t have hours to fix a problem. With Veeam we quickly failed over to a replica and resumed processing.”