Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. has been active in various charitable and social areas for more than 60 years. In the tradition of the Protestant Order of St John, its tasks today include rescue and medical services, disaster control and first aid training. It also provides social services such as working with children and young people, as well as caring for the elderly and sick.
The organization is not only active within Germany, but also helps people in many crisis regions around the world. Johanniter’s foreign service, for example, currently supports more than 500,000 displaced citizens, including those in Syria, Jordan, Afghanistan, Kenya and Lebanon.
“Our employees need access to a whole range of IT applications for their work,” says Ralf Neumann, Head of IT/Technology at Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe’s Berlin/Brandenburg branch. “The specialists in foreign service, for example, depend on reliable, around-the-clock email communication. This is the only way they can professionally coordinate relief operations and quickly provide those on site with what they need.”
The availability of data and applications is also crucial for many other tasks. From planning services for people with mobility impairments to the collection of patient data in ambulances, more and more processes are now digital. In recent years, Johanniter’s nine regional divisions have had to invest strategically in the development of a powerful central IT infrastructure.
“We have consolidated our IT systems into a common data center and virtualized the infrastructure almost completely with VMware vSphere,” reports Neumann. “Our goal was to make the operation of our 100 core applications as efficient and reliable as possible. This also included the use of a powerful availability solution for our 600 virtual machines and 250 terabytes of data. The IT managers wanted to ensure that our 60,000 emergency personnel at home and abroad could access all the necessary applications and information at all times, no matter where they happened to be on the planet.”
Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe tested various backup products but finally implemented Veeam Backup & Replication in its new data center. “The decision to select Veeam was relatively easy,” says Neumann. “The solution provides us with powerful features to quickly back up and restore any workload. At the same time, we were convinced by the price/ performance ratio. In comparison to the other products tested, the Veeam solution was around 25 percent more cost-effective.”
With the new solution deployed, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe immediately saw the availability of its core applications improve. Today, failed virtual machines (VMs) can be restarted within minutes directly from the backup with Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery® technology. Granular recovery of individual application objects has also become much easier. With Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange, IT staff can quickly recover deleted emails or user mailboxes. “This is a huge advantage for the everyday life of our employees. When working abroad, during rescue and disaster control operations, minutes are often crucial — a prolonged failure of email communication would have serious consequences,” says Neumann.
From the very beginning, the organization’s IT specialists were impressed with the ease of use of the Veeam solution. Employees save a lot of time during restores in the Microsoft SQL Server environment. With just a few clicks, they can now reset individual files or entire databases to a specific point in time. Thanks to the largely automated recovery processes, no expert knowledge is required.
“We have built our data center largely on HPE components — that’s why the smooth interaction of the solutions is so important to us,” explains the Head of IT/Technology. Backups can be created with Veeam directly from storage snapshots of the HPE 3PAR StoreServ arrays used. For critical applications, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe can perform data backups at very short intervals, without affecting the performance of the production systems. “We no longer have any problems with backup time windows and can also fulfill special requests and back up all important applications several times a day.”
The Veeam SureBackup® feature also automatically checks the recoverability of virtual machines. The VMs are started in an isolated environment and undergo a series of functional tests. The administrators of Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe not only have individual machines checked, but also entire server groups with mutual dependencies. They then receive the results of these recovery tests by email. This ensures IT always has proof that the backups were carried out successfully.
“With Veeam, we in the Berlin-Brandenburg regional association alone have reduced the annual effort required to maintain and secure our systems by almost 50 percent,” summarizes Neumann. “Our colleagues from other regional associations report similar results.”
With less money spent on resources, Johanniter has more funds for digital innovation. Among other things, the organization is currently working on initiatives such as the use of drones in disaster relief areas, the development of a digital platform for care and support services, and the development of intelligent assistants for the home environment. “Digitization enables us to better tailor our services to the needs of those affected and their families,” says Neumann. “Solutions like Veeam Backup & Replication are incredibly valuable, ensuring digital services are always available and that our help arrives where and when it is needed.”
Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. is one of the largest aid organizations in Europe with 22,000 full-time employees, 37,000 volunteers and almost 1.3 million supporting members. Founded in 1952 as the work of the Protestant Order of St John, the organization has since been active in a wide variety of social and charitable areas. Internationally, Johanniter is involved in humanitarian aid, such as in cases of famine and natural disasters.
After accidents or flooding, the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe rescue services and volunteer units are on the spot immediately. To be able to help quickly and efficiently, the organization’s staff depend on IT and communication services that are available around the clock.