The Business Challenge
The IT team for Brentwood School is vital for the school’s day-to-day operations. It oversees the primary data centre that maintains records for more than 1,500 students and supports 1,800 users. The IT staff began the move to virtualisation in 2004. They had a backup solution installed for their physical servers and planned to use the same solution to back up their virtual machines (VMs).
“When we began to virtualise, we just assumed the backup tool we used for physical servers would be suitable to back up our virtual ones,” said Charles Irven, Network Manager at Brentwood School. “However, as we virtualised more servers it became increasing apparent that the backup solution was woefully inadequate. In order to properly back up our VMs, we needed to install an agent and scheduled tasks for each server. This required a few hours per server which took time away from other responsibilities. We also had to pay more in agent fees per year, which was an unexpected and unwelcome supplement to the original contract. The on-going costs were just too high and were eating into our IT budget at an alarming rate.”
The IT team wanted a solution built specifically for the VMware environment that was easy to install and use and was cost-effective. System Professional Ltd., a UK‑based IT services reseller and Veeam partner, suggested they try Veeam® Backup & Replication™.
“Brentwood’s IT team asked us to recommend a backup solution that could replace the inefficient solution they had been using,” said Chris Moss, Marketing Director for System Professional. “The team was experiencing particular problems with the backup of Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server, which often resulted in several hours lost in downtime, In addition, the product was unable to backup Server 2008 R2 satisfactorily. We felt that Veeam Backup & Replication was a very viable alternative that would give the team the performance and functionality they needed.”
Irven and his team evaluated several backup products, but Veeam proved to be the hands-down favorite. “With no agents required for either VMs or their workloads, Veeam was a clear winner for ease of implementation, ease of use, and cost,” Irven said.
Today, nearly 80 percent of the school’s servers are virtualised. Fewer than 12 traditional physical servers remain to run legacy applications and proprietary appliances. The IT infrastructure includes 49 VMs across three VMware hosts that run all critical applications and databases including Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server-based document management systems.
The Veeam Solution
Since implementing Veeam, the IT team has seen significant improvement in overall backup speed, and operational costs are vastly reduced. “We are able to take a much faster main and secondary backup than our single archive-based solution, which frees us up for other responsibilities,” Irven explained. “We have also been able to eliminate agent fees and expand our backup solution from 2.5 terabytes to 10 terabytes, which has reduced our operating costs.”
File-level recovery is drastically improved. The file-based archive backup system used prior to Veeam only restored the two most current backup versions of an existing file or a file deleted within the last 100 days. “With Veeam, we can search through 100 days of individual copies of any file,” Irven said. “This is invaluable for files that change daily, such as Microsoft Excel and Access files we use to write reports.”
The IT team is also very impressed they can fully restore VMs using Instant VM Recovery. “Before Veeam, restoring a VM was a long and time-intensive process that took up to two days,” Irven explained. “We had to provision a new VM with the same specification and details as the failed one, and then bring the new VM to the same OS level before the backup client could be installed and configured. Now we can restore a failed VM in minutes. What a vast improvement!”
Irven and his colleagues routinely do nightly backups of the most important information, but can now take a secondary backup, as well. “We have increased our backup volume five-fold, and we now back up a much greater quantity of information than we used to,” Irven noted.
Veeam’s pricing structure is a welcome change from the fees Brentwood was paying under the old contract. “Since Veeam is licensed at a flat fee per processor, we don’t have to worry about hidden fees that drive up the operating costs,” Irven said. “We now have a reliable product, designed specifically for the virtual environment, that is both cost-effective and efficient. That’s a winning combination.”
Cost-effective solution to meet budget requirements
As with most education institutions, Brentwood is very cost-conscious, and looks for value from its IT tools. The IT team found that Veeam delivers fast and reliable backup and recovery at an affordable price, Veeam’s per-processor pricing structure and lack of agent fees means they can predict operating expenses and stay on budget, with no unexpected or hidden costs.
Reliable backup to protect mission-critical applications
With Veeam Backup & Replication, Brentwood’s IT team is secure in the knowledge that critical applications such as Microsoft Exchange and SQL Server are backed up reliably and consistently. Problems backing up Server 2008 R2 have disappeared, and they no longer need to worry about unacceptable downtime.
File-level recovery streamlined to save time and improve efficiency
With Veeam, Brentwood has been able to move from a file-based archive solution that offers only two file copies and a 100-day retention of deleted items, to a server‑based solution that provides 100 consecutive copies, so they can restore an entire server VM easily and quickly.