The Business Challenge
Bidfood Ingredients depends on IT to ensure continuity and sustainability across all facets of its business. IT provides an end-to-end platform for more than 600 users at 21 locations to communicate and collaborate, conduct business transactions, and interact with the supply chain. The IT team supports one data center at the Johannesburg headquarters and an additional collocation facility in Cape Town.
The IT infrastructure includes seven VMware vSphere hosts and more than 50 virtual machines (VMs) that support all critical applications including document archiving, time and attendance records, surveillance systems and Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory and SQL Server. Eight physical servers are backed up by Symantec Backup Exec.
“We wanted to extend the functionality of the virtual environment to include disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity,” said Martin van Staden, CIO of Bidfood Ingredients. “We needed a product that would integrate well with our existing backup systems, provide seamless server failover in the event of production server failure, and as close to real-time recovery as possible. We also wanted to split backup and replication tasks, replicate at the image level and restore a file or directory from within an image file.”
For help in finding a solution, van Staden turned to Silicon Sky, a trusted advisor to Bidfood and primary vendor for its back-office, data center and virtualization requirements. Criteria for the ideal solution included: direct integration with VMware and access to its toolset; seamless replication and recovery; complete VM image backups with granular restores and a transparent test environment.
As a Veeam Gold Partner, Silicon Sky frequently recommends Veeam® Backup & Replication™ to clients looking for a complete data protection package. “At Silicon Sky, we look for solutions that will meet the specific needs of our clients,” said Brenton Halsted, Chief Technical Officer for Silicon Sky. “We knew immediately that Veeam Backup & Replication met Bidfood’s criteria. Veeam provides the image backups and granular restores that Bidfood requires for its DR and business continuity strategy. Its simple pricing model and ease of use are also attractive.”
Van Staden and his team found that Halsted was right. “We evaluated Veeam Backup & Replication against several other products and found that Veeam met all our criteria,” he said. “It was simply the best solution for our environment. Silicon Sky made a significant difference, as well, in providing the guidance we needed to ensure the success of the implementation.”
The Veeam Solution
The first thing the Bidfood IT team noticed about Veeam Backup & Replication was how easy it was to implement. “Veeam is easy to set up, configure and manage,” van Staden noted. “The user interface is fantastic, simple and concise.”
Unlike traditional file-based backups, Veeam provides image-based backups that enable quick recovery of an entire VM, file or application item. “Image-based backups were one of the things we looked for in a backup tool,” van Staden explained. “The ability to restore an individual file or directory, as well as an entire VM, was very important to maintain business continuity. Veeam also gives us the flexibility to set multiple schedules. We replicate major systems on a weekly basis and critical severs daily.”
Veeam Instant VM Recovery lets the IT team quickly restore an entire machine by running the VM directly from a compressed and deduplicated backup file. “We have had two incidents when servers failed, which might have been disastrous to our business,” van Staden said. “Instant VM Recovery restored the servers in a matter of minutes and returned them to operation without any issues.”
Having both backup and replication in one tool is essential for Bidfood’s DR initiatives. The 2-in-1 backup and replication offered by Veeam ensures protection of all data and prevents data loss. According to van Staden, “We recently had an internal audit of DR procedures as dictated by our IT Policies and Procedures. Veeam performed beautifully. On a practical level, we restored a critical server from a replicated copy of the server, which proved the effectiveness of our DR plan.”
The On-Demand Sandbox included with Veeam Backup & Replication also meets another one of the IT team’s key criteria. “We were looking for an offline, transparent testing environment that mirrored our live environment,” van Staden explained. “Veeam’s On-Demand Sandbox filled that need. We use it to test specific upgrades of applications before placing them into production.”
Van Staden and his colleagues are very satisfied with Veeam’s performance and consider it key to Bidfood’s business strategies. “Veeam is the foundation upon which we built our DR plan,” he said. “It gives us a ‘ready to switch on’ environment in the event of a server failure and the ability to bring a critical server online within minutes of its failure. Our original backup methods are still in place, but Veeam extends the functionality of our environment and allows us to provision the DR and business continuity plan so vital to our business.”
Image-based backups facilitate granular and full VM restores
Veeam’s image-based backups ensure that the IT team can quickly recover a VM or restore individual files and directories.
Replication capabilities enable DR and ensure business continuity
With Veeam, Bidfood now has full replication capabilities, which are essential to its DR and business continuity initiatives.
On-Demand Sandbox allows testing of server upgrades
The IT team uses the On-Demand Sandbox as an offline, transparent environment to test server upgrades before placing them into production.