Wollondilly Shire is on the path to becoming one of the largest regions in the Sydney metropolitan area. In 2011, the Wollondilly Shire Council adopted a Growth Management Strategy (GMS) to plan for growth over a 25-year period. Population is expected to triple, and thousands of new houses and even a whole new town are being built. Extensive economic development and numerous employment opportunities are in the works as well.
One of the Council’s main objectives is making sure all forms of growth are compatible with the Shire’s rural character and natural surroundings. Another objective is balancing growth with the competing demands and aspirations of developers, landholders and the general population. The Council is working hard to plan and provision future facilities and services while maintaining the current physical infrastructure.
A relatively small IT environment supports the physical infrastructure, but it will grow. Like the Council, the Shire’s IT team is gearing up for expansion while managing and maintaining the systems that keep the region operating around the clock. With growth comes anxiety.
"Our biggest fear is a data centre emergency during a physical emergency, such as a fire in our national park or a flood," said Chris Bailey, Senior IT Support Officer for Wollondilly Shire. "We’d have a life-threatening situation on our hands; that’s why our IT systems cannot go down. They facilitate vital components of our emergency services such as mapping data used by police and firefighters to locate the fire and property records used to call and alert residents in surrounding areas. Having those systems available 24x7 is critical."
Maintaining 24x7 availability of the IT environment is a major challenge as the region grows and changes. Data growth and mobility are contributing factors. Bailey expects data to quadruple to 80TB, and it must be mobile.
"Data must be available to our users whenever and wherever they are," he explained. “When building inspectors require access to property data and aerial photography, they need it right then and there. If they can’t access the data when they need it, construction might be postponed.”
In anticipation of the GMS, Wollondilly Shire’s IT team converted the physical IT infrastructure to virtual using VMware vSphere and deployed Veeam® Backup & Replication™.
“Veeam was the obvious choice for virtualisation because it’s been the market leader for quite a long time,” Bailey said. “The true test was if Veeam could deliver 24x7 availability as we underwent tremendous growth.”
Veeam helps Wollondilly Shire Council keep the region’s physical infrastructure functioning 24x7 so economic growth can remain steady and on track. Users have access to data whenever and wherever they need it, from planning meetings to construction sites.
“One of the smartest moves we made was deploying Veeam,” Bailey said. “Veeam gives us the confidence that our IT environment is available 24x7 to support our physical infrastructure. We also know we can meet our DR requirements during a full system failure because we experienced it firsthand. Veeam gives us peace of mind; if something bad happens, we know we can recover.”
Something bad did happen. A system error occurred in the data centre, and the IT environment crashed.
“Our entire VM data cluster was corrupted,” Bailey said. “It was a bad situation. Luckily we could restore from Veeam backups and replicas, so we were up and running with minimal downtime and data loss. This is when we needed Veeam to deliver on its promise of availability, and it did – perfectly.”
Veeam delivers on its promise of availability through reliable backup and replication as well as high-speed recovery. The most important recovery features for Wollondilly Shire are Instant VM Recovery®, which restores a VM from a regular backup quickly, and Veeam Explorer™, which recovers individual items in Microsoft Active Directory, Exchange and SQL Server in minutes. Every critical system is tied to Active Directory including user identity authentication for email.
Bailey said another favorite Veeam feature is built-in deduplication and compression.
“We have 100TB of backup storage, and we currently use 25% of it,” Bailey said. “As data grows we’ll eventually need the other 75%, but that’s years down the road because Veeam’s reverse incremental backups require two and a half times less space than our physical backups required prior to the move to virtualisation. That space saving is important over the long run, and we’re definitely in planning and growth mode for the long run.”