The main data center is located at Plaisir in the suburbs of Paris. It houses all of the business-line applications of the subsidiaries resulting from an IT infrastructure consolidation plan. This consolidation program, initiated five years ago and has led to a steady growth in the volume of data in the Plaisir data center, which now hosts 500 virtual machines (VMs) spread over a dozen high-capacity physical servers. The data center in the United States enforces the same consolidation policy, but remains smaller in size. In Asia (Singapore), the data center design is based on a virtual infrastructure and is used as the backup data center site for Plaisir and the replication site for subsidiaries worldwide.
In late 2009, the Plaisir group data center gradually reached 20 TB of VMs data and captured all the attention of the production team. Unlike resources (processors, disk and bandwidth) that were developed constantly, virtual infrastructure backup technology had not evolved enough to secure these large volumes of data.
“The existing solution based on scripts and exports no longer allowed daily backups of the critical production to be made in one day,” stated Pierre-Philippe Martin, a systems and network engineer for the Euler Hermes Group. “Moreover, the available backup windows proved insufficient to meet the backup frequency required for other applications, such as those for development.”
In addition, switching to VMware vSphere with API Vstorage was the second trigger to search for a backup solutions that could take full advantage of the latest from VMware.
The backup solution needed to be optimized for VMware environments and fully integrated into IBM’s TSM (Tivoli Storage Manager) backup tool, which covers the entire physical infrastructure on which Euler Hermes’ business continuity planning (BCP) is based.
The study of several software vendors in the market revealed that only Veeam’s Backup & Replication product was able to combine the two pre-requisites. INETD Consulting, Euler Hermes’ prime integrator, validated the efficiency of Veeam Backup & Replication and IBM TSM combination, in an environment similar to that of one of its customers.
“The standard replication feature included in Veeam’s “two-in-one” solution appeared as an additional differentiator in light of our medium-term needs,” stated P-P. Martin.
Today, Veeam Backup & Replication is deployed in the Plaisir and Singapore data centers and its subsidiaries, which still have an average of two physical servers for 20 VMs. Deployment is currently underway in the U.S. data center.
Veeam Backup & Replication, operational since early February 2011 on most Euler Hermes sites, takes full advantage of VMware’s vStorage innovations. Notably, the much faster total and incremental backups meet the defined backup windows and do not impact production as the consumption of resources requested is minimal. From daily incremental backups, it is now also possible to choose not to perform full backups, but to recreate “full” synthetic backups from increments.
The Veeam solution ensures VM backups on disks. Then IBM’s TSM centralizes the backup of the virtual and physical environments, transfers them to VTL (Virtual Tape Library) and manages the replication to the remote site and the outsourcing to tape.
Euler Hermes’ production team is based on alerts received by email for continuous monitoring of backup events and possible malfunctions. The data collected is used to generate custom reports, such as the backup status per machine.
The ultimate and major goal of the Veeam Backup / IBM TSM integration is to leave the launch of backup jobs to the external “scheduler”, the IBM TWS (Tivoli Workload Scheduler). This planning tool will control both TSM and Veeam Backup & Replication. It will ensure absolute consistency between the two types of backup to guarantee synchronization of the exports by Veeam and recovery of the TSM backup at the right time.
The restore feature has already been used successfully and the “instant restore” feature has shown great utility to recover VMs within hours, instead of a day. The operation is seamless to users who remain fully productive while the problem is solved.
“In the medium term, Veeam’s replication feature will be gradually introduced for the replication of backups from the subsidiaries to the Plaisir data center where a VMware infrastructure is dedicated to the BCP,” concluded P-P. Martin.