The Business Challenge
The IT team for Hit Promotional Products oversees the main data center at the company’s headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, and two centers in the surrounding area. The team supports a staff of 900, which includes a mobile sales force that handles both domestic and international sales.
One of the primary responsibilities of the IT department is to provide always-on, 24/7 service. The IT team began the move to virtualization in 2007, but soon recognized that the volume of data was increasing dramatically as the company grew, and their existing backup solution was not keeping pace. It became difficult to perform backups efficiently; they took longer and were not always reliable.
“Our primary concern was how to back up our VMs without impacting users,” said Eric Shonebarger, IT Director for Hit Promotional Products. “The data kept growing and the backup window kept shrinking, and the system literally ground to a crawl during backups. It was apparent that we needed a better backup solution.”
The IT team wanted a product built specifically for the VMware environment, rather than one simply adapted for it. They also needed a solution that was fast, consistent, reliable, and cost-effective. Shonebarger saw a video on Veeam Backup & Replication™ and began exploring the Veeam website for more information. His initial thought was, “There is just no way one product can do all this.”
Despite his skepticism, Shonebarger decided to give Veeam Backup & Replication a try, as it seemed to have all the features Hit Promotional Products needed. “We downloaded a trial version, and once we saw the product in action, it was no contest. Although we considered a few other tools, Veeam Backup & Replication was the hands-down favorite, no question about it.”
Today 90–95 percent of Hit Promotional Product’s systems are virtualized. The IT infrastructure includes 55 virtual machines (VMs) across four hosts that run all critical applications, Microsoft Active Directory, and SQL Server-based document management systems.
The Veeam Solution
Hit Promotional Products chose Veeam Backup & Replication because it fully supports the virtual environment, is easy to set up and run, and has more capabilities than any other solution they considered. “First of all, installation was a snap,” Shonebarger said. “We were up and running in a matter of hours. But the most significant difference is the speed. Before Veeam, one backup took 14 hours to complete. Now we can do multiple backups in just two hours. Veeam Backup & Replication is running 60 times faster than our former solution, with no impact on users.”
One feature that sold Shonebarger on Veeam is vPower™, the innovative technology in Veeam Backup & Replication that runs a VM directly from a backup file. “Once I saw vPower, I was hooked,” Shonebarger said. “I asked every vendor we considered if they had this capability, and not one of them did. It was a deal breaker for the others.”
With vPower, a full VM restore is much faster, and the IT team can meet its recovery time and recovery point objectives (RTOs and RPOs) with less time, effort, cost and risk. “In addition to the full VM restore capability, the ability to granularly restore SQL Server database records and Active Directory objects is a big plus,” said Shonebarger. “We also use the virtual lab capability that comes with Veeam Backup & Replication to look at each VM backup individually. This gives us peace of mind that everything is working as it should be.”
Hit Promotional Products takes advantage of Veeam’s compression functionality to reduce infrastructure costs. “If you look at compression ratios, Veeam has much better compression than other systems,” Shonebarger explained. “So it’s saving us money because we don’t have to buy as much disk space. Veeam also gives us flexibility with storage hardware. Since Veeam can target any storage device, we have a variety of storage options as our company continues to grow.”
Veeam’s pricing structure also helps Hit Promotional Products meet its cost-saving initiatives. According to Shonebarger, “Veeam charges one flat fee per processor, and at a very fair price. The rest of the world is uses a complicated fee structure, but Veeam keeps it simple. We consider Veeam a bargain.”
Shonebarger and his team found that good customer service comes with Veeam products. “When we first set up the Veeam Backup & Replication trial, we used customer service to answer a few basic questions,” Shonebarger explained. “We found Veeam’s support staff to be knowledgeable and helpful, answering our questions simply, concisely and quickly. This was like a breath of fresh air compared to our previous vendor.”
Increases backup speed by 60x
Before the IT team at Hit Promotional Products deployed Veeam Backup & Replication, a full backup of a SQL Server database took 14 hours to complete. Now multiple backups can be completed in two hours. Backups are run nightly with no interruption in the 24/7 service that is so vital to the business.
Reduces IT infrastructure operating costs
The deduplication and compression features available in Veeam Backup & Replication reduces the amount of storage space needed, thus reducing costs. Veeam’s data deduplication functionality also saves backup storage costs. Since Veeam Backup & Replication is storage-agnostic, storage devices can be changed if the team finds more cost-effective hardware.
Provides a simple pricing structure and outstanding customer service
Hit Promotional Products is satisfied with Veeam’s simple pricing model, finding that a flat fee per processor is less complicated and more cost-effective for the business. Shonebarger and his team also find that the customer service is outstanding and far surpassed their experience with other vendors.