The Business Challenge
The core asset of every law firm is data. If data is corrupt and can’t be recovered quickly, law firms risk losing clients’ trust, their firms’ reputation, billing opportunities and regulatory compliance. One hour of downtime each month costs the average law firm £45,000 in lost billing over the course of one year (based on 25 lawyers billing at £150 per hour). Charles Russell Speechlys has more than 500 lawyers.
Data is growing fast in the legal industry, and when law firms merge, data increases enormously. That’s what happened when two law firms — Charles Russell and Speechly Bircham — merged to become Charles Russell Speechlys. Hundreds of VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) had to be moved from Speechly Bircham’s European data center to Charles Russell’s UK data center.
“Our goal was fast, efficient data migration,” said Abba Abbaszadi, Head of Infrastructure at Charles Russell Speechlys. “Our challenge was avoiding data corruption and data loss, which contribute to downtime. Downtime can mean lost revenue for a law firm.”
The IT team was most worried about migrating critical VMs running Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and customized applications for the legal industry including InterAction for customer relationship management, BigHand for dictation and WorkSite for document management. Team members also worried dissimilar production storage in the data centers might complicate VM migration. Additionally, they worried about balancing migrated data evenly on production storage in the UK data center to avoid input/output (I/O) congestion. They were equally concerned about host and VM capacity in the UK data center.
The migration project was under a strict deadline. The sooner the project completed successfully, the sooner critical IT systems could support the newly merged company.
The Veeam Solution
Veeam Availability Suite helped Charles Russell Speechlys migrate hundreds of VMs with no downtime and no data loss, meeting the merger deadline with three weeks to spare.
“Our job is to protect data,” Abbaszadi said. “Veeam helped us merge two separate date centres with no impact on revenue. Veeam is a reliable VM migration solution offering modern data protection.”
Over the course of several weekends, Charles Russell’s IT team, supported by OISG, a Veeam Gold ProPartner and Solution Partner for ExaGrid, used Veeam to replicate VMs in batches of 10 to 15 from Speechly Bircham’s data center (source) to Charles Russell’s data center (target), followed by failover from each source VM to each target VM.
The IT team had already been using Veeam because it was the only solution at the time to offer application-consistent backup and replication. Legacy backup was slow and inconsistent, and since it could only back up entire VMs, the IT team had to rebuild failed VMs before using a third-party tool to restore application items such as email, which took hours.
Today Charles Russell Speechlys’ IT team saves hundreds of hours each year by using Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange to recover emails in minutes and Veeam Explorers for Active Directory and SQL Server. Reliable backup and fast recovery serve as the backbone for regulatory compliance in the legal industry, making it fast and easy for the IT team to demonstrate data compliance during an audit.
There were two additional reasons for choosing Veeam. It is storageagnostic (Charles Russell’s multinational offices had different storage) and offers something that legacy backup did not: advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning. The IT team wanted visibility into the virtual infrastructure to identify and resolve issues before they impacted users and the business. Monitoring, in particular, was helpful during the merger too. Before migrating VMs, team members monitored vCenter on the target side to identify the busiest hosts and VMs. Then they upgraded CPU memory and RAM before migration.
Today, Charles Russell Speechlys backs up 130 TB across 800 VMs onpremises to ExaGrid storage appliances for fast recovery and replicates among data centers for disaster recovery. Veeam backup is significantly faster than legacy backup, resulting in shorter backup windows. Recovery is faster too because Veeam restores in minutes on ExaGrid’s landing zone. This means that Charles Russell Speechlys can instantly recover and run a VM from the ExaGrid appliance if the primary VM is unavailable, enabling key business operations to run smoothly.
“Veeam is everything you need for modern data protection,” Abbaszadi said. “And if you need to migrate VMs, you can be confident your data will be valid with Veeam.”
- Met the migration deadline with three weeks to spare
Veeam replication migrated hundreds of VMs over several weekends, including VMs running the firm’s most critical systems: BigHand, InterAction and WorkSite. Replication and failover were so fast and easy with Veeam that the IT team beat the migration deadline by three weeks.
- Protected revenue by avoiding data corruption and loss
During the merger, Veeam replication helped Charles Russell Speechlys avoid data corruption, data loss and downtime. Downtime for a law firm often translates into lost revenue. “It’s difficult to be productive and bill clients when systems are down, but Veeam helped us avoid downtime,” Abbaszadi said.
- Delivers continual 24x7 availability of data
“Veeam gives us peace of mind because we know we have reliable backups and replicas,” Abbaszadi said. If there was ever an issue, we can restore in minutes.”