British Columbia is Canada’s most biologically diverse province. It has a wide range of ecosystems including grasslands, tundra and forests. Forests account for 24.3 million hectares.
The Forest Practices Board acts as an independent, public watchdog — empowered to conduct periodic audits of forest practices, investigate complaints and report results to the public and government. The Board conducts up to 10 are completed each year.
During an audit, the staff captures field data on tablets and transfers it through a virtual private network (VPN) to a secure file-transfer protocol (FTP) site in the Victoria office. “We rely heavily on field data and we can’t risk losing it,” said Tim Slater, Manager of Corporate Services and Information Systems at the Forest Practices Board. “If we lose data, staff and contractors would have to make a second trip to the field. We’d have to pay contractors a second time and we’d have to rent a helicopter a second time because that’s often the most efficient mode of transportation. The cost could double to tens of thousands of dollars. Our organization is government-funded, so we are very aware of every cost.”
Once an audit is completed and a report is presented, it’s available on the organization’s website, which also encourages education, communication and dialogue about forest practices and conservation. “We’re proud to serve as an ombudsman for the public, but we can’t do what we do without access to data,” Slater said.
The challenge was recovering data. Their legacy backup solution was unreliable, leaving only a 50% chance data could be recovered because it was either corrupted or couldn’t be restored in its full form. Slater said two things caused the challenge: Legacy backup wasn’t designed for virtualization and it didn’t integrate with NetApp ONTAP. Configuring the legacy backup solution with NetApp SnapVault and NetApp SnapMirror was cumbersome, and replication never worked. As a consequence, our business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) readiness was on the line.
The Forest Practices Board replaced legacy backup with Veeam® Availability Suite™. “The direct integration between Veeam and NetApp ONTAP is awesome,” Slater said. “Set up and management of SnapVault and SnapMirror couldn’t be easier, and for the first time we can replicate. Veeam and NetApp helped us transform our BC and DR strategy.”
The Forest Practices Board backs up 69 virtual machines (9 TB) from NetApp FAS2650 Storage Snapshots every hour in the Victoria office and replicates them between Victoria and a DR site every four hours. Recovery time objectives (RTOs) decreased dramatically (from hours to minutes) and for the first time it’s possible to set recovery point objectives (RPOs).
Slater said his favorite recovery feature is Veeam Instant VM Recovery® “We don’t worry about extended periods of application downtime or data loss because recovery is 100% reliable. I’ve yet to find a situation where Veeam recovery hasn’t worked and I don’t think I ever will.”
Slater said Veeam and NetApp are so fast, easy to use and reliable that the Board saves 12 to 15 hours each week — nearly a part-time position. “When your team is only one or two people, 12 to 15 hours per week is a substantial savings. We use that time to look for additional ways to leverage technology to improve business processes. One way is archiving secondary backups in Amazon S3 and Glacier.”
The Forest Practices Board archives tape-based backups in Amazon S3 and Amazon Glacier with Veeam’s Virtual Tape Library (VTL) integration. “Veeam has been backing up our data to tape for years, so now Veeam is backing up our virtual tape library to Amazon S3 and Glacier for long-term storage,” Slater said. “It’s an infinitely scalable, cost-effective solution that will help us ensure data is available forever.”
The British Columbia Forest Practices Board is an independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices in British Columbia, Canada’s western-most province. Established by the government in 1995, the Forest Practices Board’s 20 employees and eight board members help protect 24.3 million hectares of public land.
Forests sustain clean water, food sources, energy production, housing, employment and recreation. Gathering and analyzing field data helps the Forest Practices Board determine the best route for sustainability. When data recovery became a challenge, the Forest Practices Board modified the way data is managed.