The Business Challenge
The IT team at the Wolverhampton City PCT supports approximately 3,000 users at 90 remote healthcare sites. The IT infrastructure includes roughly 80 physical servers and 80 virtual servers. The server hardware is a combination of Dell PowerEdge 2900s and 2950s.
The PCT began working with Cristie Data Limited, a UK company best known for its data storage expertise, in 2007 when the PCT needed backup software for its physical servers. The product that Cristie recommended worked well with the physical servers, but then the PCT needed a separate backup solution for its virtual servers.
“At first we tried to use the physical server backup software on our virtual servers,” explained Mark Parsons, the PCT’s Server Manager. “We treated the virtual machines as physical machines by installing agents on each server before conducting a backup, but that process was long, laborious, and increasingly expensive. Each time we added new virtual servers, we had to purchase more agents.”
Ian Curry, Cristie Business Development Manager, said the PCT had three main requirements: improve data retention (even though data volumes were growing); achieve fast and efficient VMware backups; and implement practical replication technology for offsite backups that minimized bandwidth requirements.
“Since the PCT was also using the EMC Data Domain de-duplication storage system at the time, we recommended Mark and his team implement Veeam Backup & Replication for the virtual servers,” Ian explained. “We were one of the first in the industry to test both Data Domain and Veeam Backup & Replication, so we knew the combination would provide the PCT with the most efficient backup and replication process for its virtual servers,” he added.
The Veeam Solution
Veeam Backup & Replication and Data Domain complement each other to give exceptional de-duplication levels. “The return on de-duplication with Veeam and Data Domain is quite impressive,” Mark said. “Now we have a 12-week rollback on the physical servers and 30 days on the virtual servers because of Veeam Backup & Replication. Together, that only occupies 38 percent on Data Domain.”
Before the PCT combined Veeam Backup & Replication with Data Domain, Mark and his team were only able to keep eight weeks of rollback with the physical backup server software, which consumed up to 30 percent of space. “For just 8 percent more space, I get four more weeks of physical server rollback and 30 days of virtual server rollback,” Mark added.Simplicity and functionality are also important to Mark and his team. “Veeam Backup &
Replication is so straightforward,” he said. “It’s easy to configure, not just from an installation point of view, but also from a user’s point of view. It is a feature-rich product, and one of the best features for us is recovery. With just a few clicks, we can put a virtual machine back in place and have it working in minutes. This took two to three hours in the past.”
Backup speed has increased at the PCT as well. “Now we complete virtual backups in less than half the time compared to the physical backup process,” Mark explained. “We can back up just over a terabyte on the virtual machines in under nine hours. Before it took up to 18 hours. Better yet, using Veeam Backup & Replication is more cost effective than the physical backup product. We’re saving 20 to 30 percent on backups each year because we no longer have to purchase agents for new virtual servers, and that savings will increase over time.”
Cristie’s goal is to continue to provide the PCT, along with its other clients, the best possible solutions for protecting and restoring enterprise data. “Our key differentiator in this industry is our understanding of the market technology and our ability to integrate solutions without wasting current storage investments,” explained Steve Blakemore, Cristie’s Product Manager. “That was the case with the PCT because we had already helped them invest in Data Domain, and combining it with Veeam is a tried and tested solution.”
Data de-duplication reduces disk space storage requirements for backups - Before the PCT combined Veeam Backup & Replication with Data Domain, Mark and his team were only able to keep eight weeks of rollback from the physical backup server, which consumed up to 30 percent of space. For just 8 percent more space, the PCT gets an additional four more weeks of physical server rollback and 30 days of virtual server rollback, resulting in significant cost savings.
Robust functionality enables restoration of virtual machines in minutes, not hours - With just a few clicks, Mark and his team can have a virtual machine back in place and working in minutes. This took two to three hours in the past.
Backup time is cut in half - Before Veeam Backup & Replication was implemented, backups could take up to 18 hours. Now the PCT can carry out the same backups in less than nine hours.
Overall costs decrease 20 to 30 percent - The PCT also saves 20 to 30 percent on overall backup costs each year because Mark and his team no longer have to purchase agents for new virtual servers like they had to with the physical backup process.