The Business Challenge
Grove City College was an early adopter of virtualization with Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 and 10 Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs). Today 180 VMs run nearly all applications in the IT infrastructure including Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Exchange and the ERP system used to manage student data and administrative operations. Microsoft Hyper-V is the main hypervisor in use; however, some applications run on VMware vSphere VMs, such as HP TippingPoint Intrusion Prevention System and a printing system called WebCRD.
In addition to VMs, Grove City College has 10 physical machines. When members of the IT team attempted to back up their VMs with the same tool used to back up their physical machines, they ran into a problem with their Hyper-V VMs. The only way they could back up and recover individual files was to install agents on each Hyper-V VM, and when the agents were installed, backup and recovery were painfully slow.
“Our legacy backup tool is great for our physical machines, and we’ve used it successfully for many years,” said Vincent DiStasi, Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Grove City College. “But since the majority of our missioncritical applications are virtualized on Hyper-V, we needed to find an agentless backup solution that would accommodate and support Hyper-V.”
DiStasi and his colleagues also wanted to find a single virtualization management solution to ensure the protection, performance and availability of their mixed hypervisor environment.
“Instead of using separate monitoring and reporting tools for Hyper-V and VMware, we wanted to be able to look at the virtual environment under a single pane of glass,” DiStasi explained. “We also wanted a management solution that was affordable and easy to use. For example, we had no reporting capabilities with our current tools because we found reporting was too time-consuming and difficult to set up and use. And, we couldn’t get historical monitoring data. Our biggest concerns were memory usage, disk usage and disk I/O, but we didn’t have a good way of gauging or optimizing these resources.”
The Veeam Solution
Grove City College chose Veeam® Availability Suite™ because it provides backup, recovery, monitoring, reporting and capacity planning for VMware and Hyper-V in one affordable, easy-to-use solution.
“It’s so nice to use a solution that was developed specifically for virtualization where VMware and Hyper-V coexist,” DiStasi said. “Sometimes Hyper-V support is an afterthought, but not with Veeam. You can tell Hyper-V support is just as important as VMware support.
Veeam differs from physical backup products because it’s designed specifically for availability in the virtual world. Veeam is agent-free, making deployment and setup fast and easy. “Now that we no longer have to rely on agents, backup is 50% faster, so we’re backing up more frequently and efficiently than before,” DiStasi said. “File-level recovery is also a breeze with Veeam. One of our next steps is to take advantage of Veeam’s recovery capability for Microsoft Exchange.”
Veeam is storage-agnostic, enabling organizations like Grove City College to deploy storage appliances that best meet its needs. DiStasi and his colleagues use two VM backup storage targets: HP StoreOnce and HP StoreVirtual. With HP StoreVirtual, they rely on Veeam’s built-in deduplication to reduce storage requirements. With HP StoreOnce, they rely on that appliance’s built-in deduplication.
“Veeam software and HP storage are examples of better-together scenarios,” DiStasi explained. “Even though there might be deduplication overlap, Veeam and HP work hand-in-hand, enabling us to maximize their full potential.”
While comprehensive data protection is important to Grove City College, so is optimizing its backup and virtual infrastructures. Veeam ensures the performance and availability of the entire virtual infrastructure through advanced monitoring, reporting and capacity planning.
DiStasi said Veeam monitoring helps the IT team identify and react to incidents quicker than before. “When we started using Veeam, we began receiving alerts on disk latency. We found we had put too many Hyper-V VMs on a LUN. When we dug deeper, we discovered the problem was related to how we were dividing up the VMs on each LUN. We shifted them around and now everything works better.”
Veeam also helps the IT team with capacity planning. “If we’re going to make a change to our infrastructure, we’ll look at reports to see how it will be accommodated,” he explained. “Before Veeam, it was a different story. Because we didn’t have a way to quantify capacity or predict the effects of a change, we would often follow conventional wisdom and move heavy-hitter VMs to the least-loaded machines. With Veeam, we have the ability to understand and fine-tune our virtual environment.”
Something else Grove City College likes is that Veeam monitoring checks and alerts against a prebuilt database of best practices. This capability and the product’s knowledge base simplify and speed troubleshooting. “I’m automatically notified when something goes out of spec,” DiStasi said. “I can get the information I need quickly to dig down and figure out what’s going on.”
An additional benefit to using Veeam is affordability. Veeam is licensed per CPU socket. There are no per-application, per-VM or per-host fees. Licenses can be purchased for any mix of hypervisors and can be swapped between hypervisors free of charge. “Veeam’s pricing is straightforward, but the best part is not worrying about licensing agents,” DiStasi said. “Veeam is very cost-effective, otherwise we never would have purchased it.”
Easy-to-use, agent-free VM backup and recovery
Veeam Availability Suite was developed specifically for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V VMs, making backup, recovery and granular restore fast and efficient for Grove City College. “Not only is Veeam easy to install and use, it’s also easy to upgrade,” DiStasi said. “We’ve upgraded several times, and it worked flawlessly each time.”
Centralized management in one cohesive solution
Instead of using separate backup and management tools in its mixed hypervisor environment, Grove City College uses Veeam Availability Suite to backup, recover, monitor and report on its Hyper-V and VMware VMs. “From a management perspective, Veeam helps us keep our virtual environment healthy,” DiStasi said.
Single pane of glass for monitoring and reporting
Grove City College wanted a single pane of glass for monitoring and reporting on the virtual infrastructure. Veeam Availability Suite provides one solution for the IT team to easily manage the performance, configuration and utilization of the VMware and Hyper-V environments.