The Province of South Holland (PSH) is a regional government institution that is active in many different fields such as spatial planning, transport and traffic, the economy, agricultural affairs, the environment, nature and the landscape, and welfare and culture. About 2,500 people work for the province. The PSH started setting up a VMware environment in 2008, having worked until then with Microsoft Virtual Server. This was a test environment, with a small part of it being used for acceptance. The performance in the Virtual Server test environment was shown to be inadequate, so it was decided to change over to VMware. As well as better performance, the new VMware environment offered the PSH considerable savings in power consumption and the physical space occupied.
There are 300+ virtual servers with the PSH, with between 300 and 500 applications running on them. Of the 300+ virtual servers, 50 are critical for running the organisation, including the BlackBerry server, various web servers, portals and financial (Coda) servers. The back-office servers for the website also run in the VMware environment. These servers hold, among other things, the documents that are available in the online documentation center on the PSH website. Interested parties can download various documents from here, including maps. Service deskoriented applications, including those for change and incident management, also run on the virtual servers. It is vital for the PSH to have the servers available at all times and for backup processes to run properly. In the event of a crash, it must be possible for the servers to recover quickly and fully.
The PSH has been using Veeam Backup & Replication™ for managing its VMware environment since 2008. The PSH chose Veeam Backup & Replication at the same time it decided to virtualize its servers with VMware. The PSH started with a 30- day trial, downloaded from www.veeam.com. This showed that the base product worked very well and was simple, fast and identifiable in use. The PSH eventually chose to purchase Veeam Backup & Replication because the product had actually been developed and programmed for virtual servers. It also had facilities for deduplication and the software communicated with vCenter. Using the Veeam solution meant that installing and updating agents on the virtual servers was no longer necessary, as they were automatically included in the backup after a new virtual server had been created. Traditional backup products could not have satisfied these wishes and requirements.
Many different projects are worked on at the same time in the PSH. This requires a suitable solution, such as being able to keep a server for longer in the case of a large project. Veeam Backup & Replication™ provides the facility of making a single VM backup that is reliable, can be stored for a number of months and is easy to restore.
“Fortunately, we have only really needed Veeam Backup & Replication once in the last three years. A fault in our internal iSCSI network caused a number of corrupt VMs, which meant we had to recover a lot of files. Using Veeam’s backup and replication solution, we were able to get all the files back relatively easily,” said Ruud Zwiers, Infrastructure Specialist with the Province of South Holland.
Veeam brought out Veeam Backup & Replication v5 in 2010, and the PSH implemented this simple upgrade immediately. Thanks to the new functionality in version 5.0, servers can be recovered from a backup within a few minutes, a process that used to take hours. Zwiers said, “The application managers in the PSH couldn’t believe their ears when we told them that their crashed server was available again within a couple of minutes.”
The PSH has also been using the Veeam Management Pack™ for Microsoft System Center since the end of 2010. The PSH chose this solution because it uses System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) as a monitoring system. Zwiers said, “The reputation of nworks in the market, as well as our good experience with other Veeam products convinced us to choose Veeam nworks MP. Thanks to nworks, we can closely monitor the entire virtual environment in SCOM and we have opportunities for optimisation that we would otherwise never have found.”
Intuitive GUI – Veeam Backup & Replication has a very user-friendly GUI. Even managers who normally do not carry out backup and restore operations can easily find their way around.
Reliability in the case of emergency recovery – The PSH has tested the reliability of Veeam Backup & Replication and successfully recovered data in a time span of four to five hours. If the PSH had had to use scripts for the backup process, emergency recovery would have taken days.
Infrastructure optimisation – Using the Veeam Management Pack for Microsoft SCOM means that the PSH can monitor the entire virtual environment accurately and is therefore able to thoroughly optimise the infrastructure. Fast technical support – Veeam’s technical support team can answer any question from the PSH within 24 hours.