#1 Global Leader in Data Protection & Ransomware Recovery

Ultra Energy restores mission-critical systems in under 10 minutes and thwarts ransomware attacks with Veeam

We have set a recovery time objective of two hours for mission-critical systems, but during our quarterly DR tests with Veeam we’ve spun up replicas of our production systems in as little as eight minutes.
Paul Sylvester
Head of Technical Services, Ultra Energy

The Business Challenge

With operations in the UK and the USA, Ultra Energy designs high-tech monitoring systems for some of the harshest environments on Earth, including the intense heat at the heart of nuclear reactors.

Paul Sylvester, Head of Technical Services at Ultra Energy, said, “We are one of only a handful of companies in the world with the expertise and the technology to deliver purpose-built solutions for the nuclear and aerospace industries. Even brief project delays can be extremely costly for our clients, so keeping our mission-critical systems online is a top priority.”

Ultra Energy aims to ensure high availability for key systems, such as AutoCAD (used by its designers and engineers) and its ERP platform (used by back-office teams such as human resources and finance). However, aging IT infrastructure and a legacy tape-based backup system made it increasingly difficult to ensure a high level of data protection.

“In the past, backup failures were a common occurrence and we often had to re-run the process during production hours, which caused disruption for our users,” said Sylvester. “At weekends, we had to have a member of staff on site to ensure our full weekly backup had completed successfully. Over time, our IT estate had expanded to the point where we were struggling to back up all our servers. We knew the previous system was no longer fit for purpose, so we looked for a new approach.”

Working closely with business leaders, the Technical Services team at Ultra Energy captured the service-level requirements for a new data protection solution. The key target was to recover key systems—such as AutoCAD and the ERP solution—within two hours.

“We decided to completely refresh our IT environment, including brand-new server, storage and networking infrastructure,” said Sylvester. “In parallel, we looked for a modern, enterprise-class data protection solution.”

The Veeam Solution

After reviewing solutions from several leading data protection providers, Ultra Energy selected Veeam to safeguard its mission-critical services. The new solution protects 70 TB of data across 72 VMware virtual machines (VMs), with real-time replication for critical data.

“As part of a wider IT refresh, we deployed a new high-capacity server and storage platform in our primary server room, with a disaster recovery (DR) platform in our second server room and an HPE StoreOnce appliance in a third server room,” said Sylvester. “As we were moving to a fully virtualized environment, it made perfect sense to choose Veeam. Regulatory compliance is also crucial—and with Veeam, it was very straightforward to achieve Cyber Essentials Plus certification.”

Using Veeam, Ultra Energy replicates its mission-critical production data to its secondary platform every two hours. Every 24 hours, Veeam automatically backs up to the HPE StoreOnce appliance at the tertiary site, where it is deduplicated and compressed. Rather than storing data on tape, Ultra Energy instead migrates data from the tertiary site to a secure cloud environment for long-term retention.

“Veeam is extremely easy to deploy and configure,” said Sylvester. “Working with Veeam, we ensured that we incorporated data protection best practices into the new solution from the start. Initially, our objective was to use Veeam to store 30 days of backups at our tertiary site. Over time, we increased that to six months of data for some of our key systems. This gives us more possible restore points in the event of a ransomware attack.”

Since implementing Veeam, Ultra Energy has solved its data protection challenges. The company can now back up its entire environment in just 12 hours at the end of each week—and issues with backup failures are now a thing of the past.

“Veeam is a true set-and-forget solution; in my 30 years of IT experience, it’s one of the only products I’ve used that works exactly as advertised,” said Sylvester. “Because we no longer need to assign people to babysit our backup jobs, we’ve freed up the equivalent of one full-time employee on our service desk. As a result, we can pick up support tickets 75% faster and our business users are delighted.”

With support from Veeam, Ultra Energy continues to enhance its approach to data protection. The company has configured immutable backups to guard against cyberattacks and now performs regular DR tests.

“We have set a recovery time objective of two hours for mission-critical systems, but during our quarterly DR tests with Veeam we’ve spun up replicas of our production systems in as little as eight minutes,” said Sylvester. “On a few occasions, we’ve needed to switch over to our production system replicas for operational reasons. Every time, Veeam has worked flawlessly.”

The Results

  • Restores mission-critical systems in as little as eight minutes
    “With our previous tape-based disaster recovery system, it could theoretically have taken days to recover from an outage,” said Sylvester. “With Veeam, we now have a recovery time and recovery point objective of just two hours—and in real-world tests, we’ve restored some of our systems in minutes.”
  • Eliminates reliability issues associated with daily and weekly backups
    “In the past, we had to babysit our backups constantly because failures were so common,” said Sylvester. “Today, Veeam automatically retries failed backups three times in the event of a failure and then raises a ticket with our service desk for further investigation if needed. We’ve not had a single Veeam-related backup failure since we deployed our new DR environment.”
  • Saves one full-time equivalent employee on backup-related tasks
    Using the time saved on monitoring and restarting failed backups, Ultra Energy can now free its service desk team to spend more time on front-line support. “We’ve cut our response times for service tickets from eight hours to just two hours—75% faster,” said Sylvester.

Company:

Headquartered in Wimborne, England, Ultra Energy designs, manufactures and supports advanced measurement and control solutions that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. With nearly 70 years’ experience working within the nuclear sector, the company also serves aerospace, petrochemical, and other safety-critical markets.

Challenge:

Nuclear and aerospace projects are often highly time-sensitive, which means Ultra Energy’s mission-critical systems must always be available for its business users. When its legacy disaster recovery solution began to experience frequent backup failures, the company looked for a new approach that would enable it to restore key digital services quickly and reliably.

Results:

  • Restores mission-critical systems in as little as eight minutes
  • Eliminates reliability issues associated with daily and weekly backups
  • Saves one full-time equivalent employee on backup-related tasks