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Zoos Don’t Monkey Around with DR: Veeam Ensures High Availability

The Business Challenge

The people who work for Zoos South Australia (SA) are passionate about animals and conservation. They’re also realistic. They work for a non-profit organisation whose core revenue stream is admission. One hour of downtime at either zoo, Adelaide or Monarto, can cost $12,000 to $15,000 in lost revenue.

“We’re open every day of the year, and we can’t afford any downtime,” said Ashlen Naicker, ICT Manager for Zoos SA. “When downtime became a realistic possibility, we decided to replace our backup-to-tape tool. Our organization was growing, but our backup tool wasn’t growing with us. Uncertainty spiraled.”

Naicker said the backup tool had been tedious to install and operate. Backup was slow, leaving the ICT team no option but to back up its 32 VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs) over a three-day period because it was impossible to back them up daily. Verifying backup success was another problem, and file-level recovery took two hours.

“We were in the middle of an IT overhaul and a financially challenging time,” Naicker said. “The zoos rely on my team to get visitors through the doors and ensure they have an awesome time. That means all systems have to be working flawlessly such as admissions, Wi-Fi and point-of-purchase—everything is virtualised. My team relies on high availability in our data center. We had to choose our next backup solution wisely.”

As a non-profit organisation that aims to teach recent university graduates and support a 24x7x365 business, Zoos SA looks for a rare combination of features in a new solution: powerful, affordable, easy-to-learn and operate, and backed by a reliable support team.

Zoos SA reached out to Subnet for advice. Subnet has served South Australian customers’ technology needs since 2000 and provides managed services to Zoos SA.

“Subnet recommended Veeam for data protection and disaster recovery (DR) because it works so well for its clients,” Naicker said. “Subnet was spot on. We were tired of things going pear-shaped with the legacy backup tool. We were ready for a high-performance solution.”

The Veeam Solution

Veeam® Backup & Replication™ was so successful in ensuring high availability in the zoos’ data center that Zoos SA deployed a new admission system to replace the previous one.

“As admission is our core revenue stream, we’re always keen to improve that process,” Naicker said. “We wouldn’t have entertained the thought of a new system without being absolutely positive it could be backed up and recovered quickly and reliably. That’s the biggest difference between Veeam and the legacy backup tool— performance. Veeam gives us peace of mind.”

Another differentiator between the legacy tool and Veeam Backup & Replication is backup speed.

“The difference in speed is like chalk and cheese,” Naicker said. “I’d go gray waiting for a backup to complete with the legacy tool. With Veeam, backup is instant and often. Each day Veeam sends an email report notifying me that all backups were successful or that I need to rerun a backup job. Daily notification is a luxury I didn’t have with the previous tool.”

Veeam Backup & Replication also compresses and deduplicates backup data better than the legacy tool, enabling Zoos SA to keep backups on site one year before archiving them off site. Data center storage could only hold 21 days of backups made with the legacy tool.

A third differentiator between Veeam Backup & Replication and the legacy tool is ease-of-use.

“Veeam is so simple to use that our junior engineers are comfortable handling VM and file-level recovery on their own,” Naicker said. “When the VM running Microsoft Exchange failed and I was out of the country, I talked them through VM recovery over the phone. There was no downtime and no data loss. The staff had no idea anything had happened. Veeam saved the day.”

In that instance, the ICT team used Instant VM Recovery® to recover the failed VM from an Exchange backup in minutes. Team members also use Veeam for fast, easy granular recovery. Veeam Explorer™ helps them quickly recover individual items including emails in Microsoft Exchange and databases in SharePoint. Granular recovery with the legacy backup tool took two hours.

“The ICT team has gained more trust because of Veeam—we become superheroes when we recover emails and financial documents,” Naicker said. “We understand our colleagues misplace items. With Veeam we know there’s always a way to recover them.”

Naicker said his favorite Veeam feature is replication.

“One of our goals was to boost DR cost-effectively; that’s where Veeam came to the party and really paid off for us,” he explained. “During my 17-year career, I’ve never seen a product that replicates VMs as quickly, easily and cost-effectively as Veeam. Veeam helps me look after my pennies so I can count my pounds at the end of the day.”

Naicker cited one additional advantage Veeam has over the legacy backup tool.

“When we called the backup vendor about a technical issue, we felt like we were talking to robots,” he said. “They wanted to get us off the phone as fast as possible and close the ticket. When we call Veeam Software, we talk to a compassionate human being who spends time with us, following the issue through to the end. I appreciate that level of service. Veeam is an awesome product.”

The Results

High availability reduces risk of downtime

Zoos SA’s core revenue stream is admission. Before implementing a new admission system, high availability in the data center was a must. Backing up, recovering and replicating VMs with Veeam improved availability and greatly reduced the risk of downtime. “Veeam proved its worth almost immediately,” Naicker said.

Instant recovery of VMs, files and items instills trust

Zoos SA’s ICT team trusts Veeam for fast recovery, and the zoos’ 300 employees and 500 volunteers trust the ICT team based on its solid recovery record. “If any of our VMs hiccup, we can restart a VM from a backup in a matter of minutes,” Naicker said. “With Veeam we’ll never be down for long—if at all.”

Cost-effective solution has additional advantages over legacy backup tool

According to Naicker, the main differentiators between Veeam and the legacy backup tool are performance, high availability, backup speed, compression and deduplication, ease-of-use, customer support and cost. “Comparing Veeam to the legacy backup tool is like comparing a Ferrari to the average car manufacturer. It’s always a pleasure raving about something you believe in. We have a passion for animals and truly appreciate Veeam helping us realize our goals.”

Zoos South Australia
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Zoos South Australia is a non-profit conservation charity with more than 30,000 members. The charity owns and operates two zoos that care for more than 2,300 animals. Adelaide Zoo, Australia’s second-oldest zoo, opened in 1883. Monarto Zoo was established 100 years later and became the world’s largest openrange zoo. Learn more


The ICT team never knew for certain if VMs were being backed up successfully with the legacy backup tool. Junior members of the team struggled with the tool’s complexities, leaving most of the backup and recovery tasks, which were long and laborious, to the team manager. With an unpredictable backup tool, downtime was a major concern. One hour of downtime can cost $12,000 to $15,000 in lost admission, and admission is the core revenue stream for Zoos SA.


  • High availability reduces risk of downtime
  • Instant recovery of VMs, files and items instills trust
  • Cost-effective solution has additional advantages over legacy backup tool
Zoos South Australia
Please rate how helpful this article was to you:
4.9 out of 5 based on 25 ratings
Thank you for helping us improve!
An error occurred during voting. Please try again later.