During the past 60 years, Haven of Hope Christian Service has undergone many changes. It began as a makeshift clinic on a stone slab where volunteers offered medical care for the refugees. Today, HOHCS is a flourishing, service-oriented enterprise providing elderly, rehabilitation, healthcare, family and evangelistic services in more than 50 locations.
To support services provided to thousands of people, HOHCS built a modern data centre and disaster recovery (DR) site. Today, 90 percent of their environment is virtualised on VMware vSphere ESXi, and the data centre and DR site host approximately 55 virtual machines (VMs) that run key systems such as Epicor Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and Microsoft Exchange.
In the past two years, HOHCS’s data has trebled from 100TBs to 300TBs. The organisation’s ability to back up the growing amount of data was limited and DR was tricky without replication. Prior to the DR site being built, VMs could only be backed up onsite in the data centre. There was no way to resume operations rapidly in the event of a major hardware or software failure, or if the data centre became unavailable. Furthermore, HOHCS wasn’t able to restore individual files or verify that a backup had been completed successfully, other than by attempting to restore from it. The organisation also had limited monitoring and reporting in vSphere.
HOHCS replaced its backup tool with Veeam® Availability Suite™ to broaden backup, create a new DR strategy, improve availability and manage its virtual environment. With Veeam, VMs are backed up onsite and offsite, and backup copies are sent to the DR site. VMs are also replicated offsite for DR.
“The major benefits of Veeam are backup performance and quick recoverability,” said Calvin Chow, Senior Executive Manager of IT at HOHCS. “Our daily incremental backups decreased from six hours to three hours, and our full weekly backups decreased from 48 hours to 24 hours. If we experience a disaster situation, we know we can recover our critical data and applications in four hours with Veeam.”
Veeam Availability Suite provides high-speed recovery, near-continuous data protection, streamlined DR, verified recoverability of backups, the ability to create an exact copy of the production environment for pre-deployment verification of planned changes, monitoring and alerting that reveal issues in the IT environment before they have significant impact on end users, complete visibility of the virtual and Veeam backup infrastructures and optimisation and capacity planning.
Since implementing Veeam Availability Suite, HOHCS has accomplished everything it couldn’t accomplish with its original backup tool including offsite backup and replication, granular recovery, recovery verification, and monitoring, reporting and capacity planning.
For example, HOHCS uses Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange to gain instant visibility into Exchange backups and recover individual emails and mailboxes in minutes. To automatically verify the recoverability of every backup, HOHCS uses Veeam SureBackup®. Veeam sets up an isolated test environment called a Virtual Lab in which IT administrators can verify if a backup is recoverable. They are also planning to test software patches and updates in the Virtual Lab before putting them into production using On- Demand Sandbox™.
Veeam Availability Suite also provides HOHCS with complete visibility of the virtual environment through advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning, enabling the IT staff to detect and resolve issues before they impact operations and users. “Veeam provides very clear and comprehensive dashboards that inform us about backup performance,” Chow said. “We could not find something similar in our previous backup tool. It is essential for our IT staff to understand our infrastructure holistically. Dashboards are one of the features that impress me the most — a fairly simple dashboard provides us with enough information, both real-time and historical, to identify any risk from a backup or recovery perspective.”
Chow said he appreciates Veeam’s capacity planning capabilities too.
“In the past year we increased the number of VMs and storage,” he explained. “Veeam provides us with analysis regarding CPU power and storage to forecast IT infrastructure requirements.”
New DR strategy enables operations to be fully resumed in four hours
Using Veeam Availability Suite, HOHCS cut backup time in half and added offsite backup and replication for DR. Now HOHCS can recover critical data and applications in four hours in the event of a major hardware or software failure, or if the data centre becomes unavailable.
Virtual Lab verifies backup recoverability and tests software updates
To guarantee recoverability of data, Veeam creates an isolated Virtual Lab outside of the production environment in which it validates the integrity of backup jobs through SureBackup technology.
Complete visibility of backup and virtual infrastructures
Veeam Availability Suite gives HOHCS complete visibility of vSphere through integrated monitoring, advanced alerting and automated reporting. With complete visibility, HOHCS identifies and resolves issues quickly and knows ahead of time when backup disks are getting full. Veeam also analyses usage trends and offers provisioning recommendations for capacity planning.