Dubai Duty Free gets more foot traffic in one week than most retailers dream of getting in one year. Nearly 1.5 million travelers walk through Dubai International and Al Maktoum International airports each week, and many of them shop at Dubai Duty Free. From fine jewelry to artisan chocolates, Dubai Duty Free provides a wide range of everyday and luxury goods that travelers seek, while saving them time and money. Dubai Duty Free is a 24-hour operation, making it a classic example of an always-on business.
“Being a 24-hour operation means zero downtime,” said Faizan Billah, Assistant Manager of Technology & Infrastructure at Dubai Duty Free. “If a critical operation goes down such as warehouse robotics or the point-of-sale system, we can’t tell the customer to wait 30 minutes while we bring them back online. Thirty minutes of downtime could cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales.”
To avoid the risk of downtime Dubai Duty Free virtualised its IT infrastructure on Microsoft Hyper-V, but virtual machine (VM) recovery was slow, and item-level recovery was impossible. Restoring VMs running Microsoft SQL Server that supported the point-ofsale system could take hours. Restoring individual emails in Exchange took even longer because they had to be recovered from tape.
“Lengthy restore was unacceptable to the business,” Billah said. “We must recover critical systems in minutes, and if we’re in a disaster recovery (DR) situation, we must guarantee business continuity. Our executives want to know that 24x7 availability is real — now and as the company grows. Our data increases by 5T each year.”
Dubai Duty Free faced additional challenges. There was no way to back up a small cluster of VMware vSphere VMs, and there was no way to monitor and manage a multi-hypervisor environment. Left unresolved, both challenges could result in data loss.
“We couldn’t see what was going on in our virtual environment,” Billah said. “It took a long time to pinpoint problems, and we worried about the business being impacted.”
Veeam® Availability Suite™ delivers 24x7 availability of Dubai Duty Free’s multihypervisor environment. Veeam helps the duty free retail giant avoid the risk of downtime so millions of travelers can shop around the clock.
“Our goal was 24x7 availability,” said Allan Chapman, IT Manager at Dubai Duty Free. “Veeam gave us that and so much more including a DR solution for business operations and scalability to support business growth.”
Dubai Duty Free’s DR strategy begins with Veeam replication. VMs are replicated between data centers, so if hardware or software malfunctions, Dubai Duty Free can recover a VM quickly by failing over to its replica and failing back to production.
“With Veeam replication at the center of our DR strategy, we have peace of mind,” Chapman added.
Veeam scalability provides peace of mind too. Veeam was built to back up petabytes of data on thousands of VMs; Dubai Duty Free uses Veeam to back up 30TB on approximately 40 VMs. As data grows by 5TB each year, Veeam will scale accordingly.
Veeam was built for high-speed recovery too. Dubai Duty Free’s favorite restore features are Instant VM Recovery®, which restores a VM from a regular backup quickly, and Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange, which restores emails in minutes. Veeam Explorers are also available for SQL Server and SharePoint.
“We couldn’t perform item-level recovery until we deployed Veeam, only databaselevel recovery,” Chapman said. “When a colleague asked us to restore an email, it could take up to two days.”
Something else Dubai Duty Free didn’t have before Veeam was complete visibility into its multi-hypervisor environment. Veeam provides real-time monitoring, alerting, resource optimisation, configuration tracking, capacity planning and forecasting so Dubai Duty Free can identify and resolve issues before they become problems and cause downtime.
“With Veeam we can see issues we could never see before,” Chapman added. “Being able to identify issues quickly and resolve them proactively before they impact business is one more way Veeam delivers 24x7 availability.”