The retail food market is fiercely competitive. In the United Kingdom, the market is projected to reach £213 billion by 2022, according to the Global Agricultural Information Network. From supermarket chains to deep discounters, the choice for consumers is vast. Many of them opt for a Co-operative.
The East of England Co-operative is the one of the largest. From bargains on biscuits to high-quality goods sourced from 114 local suppliers, it offers thousands of food items in addition to post office, funeral and travel services. The Co-op has a significant property portfolio too, making it a diverse and modern business.
Like any modern business, the Co-op takes risk management seriously, so the board and leadership team identified specific risks and how to mitigate them. One of the risks is IT failure . “We would be in a world of pain if IT failed and we couldn’t recover for several days,” said Richard Helliwell, Head of ICT Services for the Co-op. “An IT failure would have a detrimental impact on our business, potentially preventing us from making sales, paying employees and supplying stores. Imagine if our 120 stores couldn’t place digital orders. They’d have to revert to manual ordering to replenish their shelves, requiring an unimaginable number of hours.”
The Co-op had controls in place to reduce the risk of IT failure, including a BC and DR strategy featuring enterprise-class data protection that served the Co-op well for many years. However, when data began to grow by 40% annually, legacy backup couldn’t keep pace. “A full backup of our file server took up to 100 hours, making it difficult to meet RPOs,” Helliwell said.
For more than 150 years the Co-op has innovated and adapted to meet the needs of the business and community, so the IT team replaced legacy backup with an enterprise-class data management solution offering proven scalability.
Veeam® Availability Suite™ backs up the Co-op’s file server in 15 minutes, making it easy to meet recovery point objectives (RPOs). Veeam is designed to protect petabytes of data through fast, flexible backup, recovery, replication and failover. “Veeam is the backbone of our BC and DR strategy,” Helliwell said. It’s reliable, easy to use and provides proven enterprise-class data protection required by the business.”
Veeam backs up 25 TB across 120 Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs) on-premises to disk and to tape, which is archived off-premises. In addition, Veeam replicates off-premises to a DR site, so if a critical system fails, the IT team can fail over to the DR site and maintain BC.
Failover also helps the Co-op protect the business against cyber attacks . Cyber-security threats are increasing in the retail market, making data loss a grim possibility. Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) cited a 400% increase in the number of cyber-security incidents reported in 2018.
“Veeam helps us sleep at night,” said Garry Armour, IT Manager at the Co-op. “Fast, reliable failover in a DR scenario is one of the biggest benefits Veeam provides. The result is High Availability, so business can carry on.”
Armour said another Veeam benefit is simplicity. “Legacy backup was unnecessarily complex, cumbersome and clunky. Even monitoring and reporting were difficult to use. Veeam ONE’s™ monitoring and reporting are remarkably simple to use, enabling us to proactively identify and resolve issues before they escalate into problems. On two occasions, Veeam ONE reported undeleted snapshots following system updates. If the snapshots hadn’t been deleted, the systems might have crashed, causing data loss.”
Armour said breadth, depth and speed are three of Veeam’s most defining characteristic. “Veeam is significantly easier to use and maintain compared to other solutions we’ve used. When you combine ease of use with scalability and High Availability, you can understand why Veeam is the backbone of our BC and DR strategy.”
The East of England Co-operative Society is an independent consumer co-operative owned by more than 280,000 members who are also customers, employees and community supporters. The Co-op provides retail food stores and specialty services such as post office, funeral and travel services across four counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire. Founded in 1868 and based in Ipswich, England, the Co-op employs 4,600 people in 120 locations.
Data was growing quickly — approximately 40% each year — but legacy systems couldn’t back up data fast enough to meet service level agreements (SLAs). The Co-op sought scalable, enterprise-class data protection to support its business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) strategy.