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 in 2014. Hundreds of VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) had to be moved from Speechly Bircham’s European data centre to Charles Russell’s UK data centre.
“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 customised 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 centres might complicate VM migration. Additionally, they worried about balancing migrated data evenly on production storage in the UK data centre to avoid input/output (I/O) congestion. They were equally concerned about host and VM capacity in the UK data centre.
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 24x7.
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 24/7 availability of data.”
Over the course of several weekends, Charles Russell Speechlys 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 centre (source) to combined Charles Russell’s Speechlys data centre (target), followed by failover from each source VM to each target VM.
The IT team deployed Veeam in 2010 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 Servers terms. 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 in 2010. Veeam is storage agnostic (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 800 VMs (130TB) locally to ExaGrid storage appliances. 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 24x7 availability,” Abbaszadi said. “And, if you need to migrate VMs, you can be confident your data will be valid with Veeam.”