Accura, headquartered in Denmark, is a leading international law firm that provides services to a wide range of large national and multinational corporate clients, financial institutions, private equity and sovereign wealth funds, utility companies, public authorities and governments, as well as a large number of private companies and their owners.
Accura had been backing up its data using HPE StoreOnce with Veeam as its backup application. With data restores taking much too long, Kasper Jakobsen, the law firm’s IT administrator, decided that Accura needed a better solution and began looking into other backup storage products that would work well with Veeam. One of the law firm’s IT clients recommended ExaGrid, so Jakobsen did some research and determined that it was the right solution for Accura.
“It was the data deduplication that convinced me to choose ExaGrid. That, and the fact that ExaGrid appliances offer something special beyond just disk space —that when you add more appliances to a system, you gain more power and CPUs,” said Jakobsen.
All of ExaGrid’s appliances contain not just disk but also processing power, memory, and bandwidth. When the system needs to expand, additional appliances are simply attached to the existing system. This type of configuration allows the system to maintain all the aspects of performance as the amount of data grows, with customers paying for what they need when they need it.
Restoring data had been a major pain point using HPE StoreOnce, and switching to ExaGrid has drastically reduced the time it takes Jakobsen to restore files and servers. “If I had to restore a single file, it could take five to ten minutes on the HPE StoreOnce, and now it takes about one minute using ExaGrid. However, if we needed to restore a whole server using StoreOnce, it could take up to a month or two — and we couldn’t live with that. Using ExaGrid, restoring a server takes just 10 to 15 minutes. That’s quite a difference!
“It is quite fast to restore and to roll back servers, and you can start them up directly from the ExaGrid system. We couldn’t do that with StoreOnce; it was too slow. I like that I don’t have to delete the server first — I can just go into Veeam, point to the server, hit restore, and it restores on top of the damaged server. After a couple of minutes, the server is restored and everything is fine again.”
ExaGrid writes backups directly to a disk landing zone, avoiding inline processing and ensuring the highest possible backup performance, which results in the shortest backup window. “Adaptive” deduplication performs deduplication and replication in parallel with backups while providing full system resources to the backups for the shortest backup window. Available system cycles are utilized to perform deduplication and offsite replication for an optimal recovery point at the disaster recovery site. Once complete, the onsite data is protected and immediately available in its full undeduplicated form for fast restores, VM Instant Recoveries, and tape copies while the offsite data is ready for disaster recovery.
ExaGrid and Veeam can instantly recover a VMware virtual machine by running it directly from the ExaGrid appliance in the event that the primary storage VM becomes unavailable. This is possible because of ExaGrid’s “landing zone” — a high-speed cache on the ExaGrid appliance that retains the most recent backups in complete form. Once the primary storage environment has been brought back to a working state, the VM running on the ExaGrid appliance can then be migrated to primary storage for continued operation.
Accura’s environment is 100% virtualized and is made up of databases on Exchange and SQL servers. Jakobsen backs up data in daily incrementals, as well as weekly backups for some servers and monthly backups for others. He is happy with backup windows for his nightly backups, which take only ten minutes to an hour, depending on the data type(s). Jakobsen also runs hourly transaction log backups for the SQL servers and has found that those run smoothly on the ExaGrid system.
The firm keeps some retention for weeks and some for years, depending on the type of data. Jakobsen has noticed that the deduplication ratios are significantly better using ExaGrid with Veeam. “The dedupe is much better with ExaGrid and Veeam — no doubt about that! Our deduplication ratios can reach as high as 5:1.”
Veeam uses the information from VMware and Hyper-V and provides deduplication on a “per-job” basis, finding the matching areas of all the virtual disks within a backup job and using metadata to reduce the overall footprint of the backup data. Veeam also has a “dedupe friendly” compression setting which further reduces the size of the Veeam backups in a way that allows the ExaGrid system to achieve further deduplication. This approach typically achieves a 2:1 deduplication ratio.
ExaGrid is architected from the ground up to protect virtualized environments and provide deduplication as backups are taken. ExaGrid will achieve a 3:1 up to 5:1 additional deduplication rate. The net result is a combined Veeam and ExaGrid deduplication rate of 6:1 upwards to 10:1, which greatly reduces the amount of disk storage required.
Accura installed an ExaGrid system at its primary site that replicates to an offsite ExaGrid system at its DR site. Jakobsen has scaled the DR system and found the process to be quite simple. “Adding the appliance was easy. I just plugged it in, connected it to the existing system, and that was it.”
Overall, Jakobsen is impressed with the reliability of the system. “ExaGrid’s landing zone makes it great to work with. I have more confidence with backups; I trust that they are working and that I will be able to restore a server or a file quickly from the landing zone.”
Jakobsen has noticed a huge difference in ExaGrid’s integration with Veeam compared with HPE StoreOnce. “Unlike other systems, ExaGrid supports all the features Veeam has to offer. I had always wanted to utilize Veeam’s SureBackup feature, but until I switched to ExaGrid, I was unable to do so. HPE StoreOnce was just too slow.”
The combination of ExaGrid’s and Veeam’s industry-leading virtual server data protection solutions allows customers to utilize Veeam Backup & Replication in VMware, vSphere, and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environments on ExaGrid’s disk-based backup system. This combination provides fast backups and efficient data storage as well as replication to an offsite location for disaster recovery. The ExaGrid system fully leverages Veeam Backup & Replication’s built-in backup-to-disk capabilities and ExaGrid’s zone-level data deduplication for additional data reduction (and cost reduction) over standard disk solutions. Customers can use Veeam Backup & Replication’s built-in source-side deduplication in concert with ExaGrid’s disk-based backup system with zone-level deduplication to further shrink backups.