Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG is a state-owned business that operates the infrastructure for the Lower Saxony ports. In addition to the port facility’s new construction, maintenance, servicing, bridges and locks, it is also responsible for regulating ship traffic. A huge amount of business-relevant information and data, including data transmitted from the ships, is created from customer or usage fees. In addition, notifications about hazardous goods is partly forwarded to disaster prevention and trade supervisory board authorities.
In contrast to ports with only one location, Niedersachsen Ports is responsible for 15 locations, from the Dutch border up to Elbe. This translates to high requirements to meet the needs of information management. “To connect the data from all locations and then to protect it is the big challenge for our IT department,” said Michael Behrends, Niedersachsen Ports System Administrator. The IT-department maintains a main data center and five additional data centers, where 90% of the servers run as 250 VMs on 29 VMware vSphere hosts. The IT department is also charged with management and security of 400 staff members’ data. Backups are provided on Dell EMC storage subsystems of the model series VNX as a primary backup device. The secured machines on Dell EMC Data Domains are relocated downstream by Boost- Protocol and replicated between the locations.
The IT team originally counted on a conventional back-up solution. However, that solution could not keep up with rising VMware vSphere host consolidations, service loads and accumulating server data. The team was no longer able to deliver optimal results. To become more flexible and faster and perform backup and recovery at every location, Niedersachsen Ports needed a new solution immediately.
Brinova Systemhaus GmbH, a long-standing Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG partner, brought Veeam into play at this point. Brinova Consulting leader, Sascha Bolmer, was well aware of the customer’s requirements and he recommended Veeam Availability Suite™ as the ideal solution for this virtual environment.
“We found out very soon that the Veeam solution fulfils all our needs and fits exactly in our environment,” said Niedersachsen Ports’ Behrends. “For almost a year now, Veeam Availability Suite has proved how capable it is.”
For the IT department, “the induction of the solution was a must — and not an option,” since it also has integrated WAN acceleration, said Behrends.
Veeam WAN Acceleration is specifically designed for virtual environments with good deduplication, compression and caching techniques, which are important to achieve the required bandwidth for backup and copy transfers via WAN. “This capacity is of enormous importance for the security of our scattered locations,” said Behrends. “Earlier we could not back-up from one location to the other due to the too ‘thin’ lines. Thanks to WAN Acceleration, this is not a problem anymore. We can also meet our time windows now.” An additional acceleration is taken care of in a second step by Dell EMC Data Domain Boost-Integration. After the deduplicated security is put away on a back-up server with Veeam, the backup is thrust onto the Data Domain for long-term archiving. Back-up performance is then doubled using the previously mentioned Veeam acceleration technique and additional Dell EMC Data Domain Boost.
A further advantage of Dell EMC Data Domain Boost integration with Veeam is the ability to create new, full backups on the Data Domain, without having to actually move the data in the device. The full backups are synthetically generated from existing data.
Even if the internal IT department has not had any Service Legal Agreements (SLAs) to fulfil at this point, it still needs to be reassured that all data is always recoverable. The most disastrous scenario would be a failure of the domains controllers, because due to many interdependencies, staff members of an entire location would then not be able to keep track of their work. With Instant VM Recovery™, it is ensured if there is a failure that VMs could be booted up within a few minutes directly from a regular backup™ it is ensured that the virtual machines can be booted up directly from a regular back-up within a few minutes if there should be a failure.
“Mercifully, we were never in such a precarious situation before. All the same, our regular tests for an emergency show that Veeam would obviously save us,” said Behrends. “And Instant VM Recovery has never let us down. The recovery happens within minutes, and more importantly, automatically.” Because the IT team can rely 100% on the function, it counts on this DR strategy.
Recovery by VM level is a novelty for the IT department of Niedersachsen Ports it was unable recover complete VMs from its own backups. “The recovery of data level function is twice as fast with Veeam, compared to the old solution. Management of the Veeam solution is also faster over the GUI,” added Behrends.
The IT department also uses Veeam Explorer™ for Microsoft Exchange. The application can select data from an Exchange backup and recover individual elements such as emails. Even here, the Veeam solution proves its advantages.