The business challenge
The University of Toronto is ranked repeatedly among the top 25 universities
worldwide and as Canada’s top school by five of the most prestigious
international ranking organizations, including Quacquarelli Symonds. The
university is recognized for excellence in research, teaching and alumni success.
A significant portion of research takes place on the Scarborough campus.
Students work alongside faculty on more than 200 projects, ranging from how
biological mechanisms in the brain give rise to complex cognition to turning food
waste into high-quality bio plastic.
A modern, digital IT infrastructure supports campus research and innovation
such as the startup business incubator that provides student entrepreneurs
with workspace, coaching and seed capital (when possible). More than 150
startups have taken root at the incubator and half remain active today. Of
the half that are active, the combined valuation of the top five companies
conceived on campus exceeds $32 million.
The IT infrastructure also supports online learning. Once an option for
instruction, online learning has become a necessity in the age of COVID-19.
To protect the health and safety of everyone on campus, the University
of Toronto Scarborough created an instructional environment that mixes
smaller, on-campus seminars, labs and experiential learning with larger,
online courses and lectures.
“The way students, faculty and staff learn, teach and work has changed, but
the university’s commitment to create rich, inclusive environments for learning
will never change,” said Wesley Huang, senior systems administrator, University
of Toronto Scarborough. “Our job is to ensure critical components supporting
these services are backed up and available all the time, including authentication
systems and web servers. If they’re not available, research, the incubator and
online learning could be impacted.”
Huang said the challenge was VDP. Backup was slow, taking up to 10 hours each
night, so when classes started at 8 a.m., the virtual machines (VMs) supporting
authentication systems and web servers were still being backed up, sometimes
slowing down online access for students and faculty. Legacy backup also caused
VMs to crash occasionally, and it lacked insight into VM recoverability and
VMware vSphere performance.
“These are the types of challenges that keep you up at night,” Huang said.
The Veeam solution
The University of Toronto Scarborough replaced legacy backup with Veeam®
Availability Suite™ to keep critical components of the IT infrastructure
available all the time, including authentication systems and web servers
supporting research, the startup business incubator and online learning.
Veeam also extends availability to Microsoft Azure to fortify the campus’
disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) strategy and saves
nearly $10,000 in on-premises backup storage each year.
“There’s no question about it — we all sleep better at night because of
Veeam,” Huang said.
Veeam provides functionality that legacy backup lacked, beginning with
faster, more reliable backup, which reduces the backup window by 50% so
students and faculty won’t experience a delay when they go online. Veeam
also verifies the recoverability of backups (a feature called SureBackup®)
and provides advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning that
gives the IT team visibility and insight into the vSphere environment for
proactive problem resolution.
“Our IT team is relatively small, so having this kind of functionality is
a major advantage,” Huang said. “And, during a pandemic, this level of
functionality is vital.”
Veeam backs up 40 TB across 400 VMs on-premises and will potentially
replicate to Azure to strengthen the campus BC and DR strategy.
“One of the main reasons we chose Veeam is because of Veeam Direct
Restore to Microsoft Azure,” Huang said. “Being able to recover our onpremises
VMs in the cloud aligns perfectly with our mission to maintain
constant availability of critical campus services. Veeam supports our
adoption of cloud technology — a big plus for any campus.”
Veeam Direct Restore to Microsoft Azure is a feature of Veeam Cloud Data
Management™, a software, hardware and cloud-neutral platform providing
simple and reliable data migration and protection.
“The fact that Veeam is neutral across the board is another big win,”
Huang said. “Legacy backup required specific storage, but Veeam provides
flexibility and choice, enabling us to use any storage. That’s how we save
close to $10,000 in backup storage each year.”
- Ensures research, the startup incubator and online learning
are always available
“The best part about using Veeam is knowing the campus services our
students, faculty and staff rely on are constantly available,” Huang said.
- Delivers Cloud Data Management to extend availability to Microsoft Azure
Veeam helps the University of Toronto Scarborough improve its BC and
DR strategy by taking full advantage of Azure’s flexible and scalable
“Veeam is future-proof, and anything that helps our campus be futureproof
is a plus,” Huang said.
- Stays storage-neutral, saving close to $10,000 in on-premises backup
storage each year
Legacy backup required specific storage, leaving little to no flexibility.
Veeam is neutral on all fronts: hardware, software and storage, which
gives organizations tremendous flexibility. For the University of Toronto
Scarborough, flexibility saved money.