As a government organisation, Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is required to honour requests for information from their records under the Freedom of Information Act.
The on-premise tape-based system they were using as a backup solution had become outdated and its reliability degraded, resulting in an unacceptable numbers of failures. A new, sustainable solution was necessary to allow the organisation to fulfil its operational requirements effectively.
Krushal Shah, Infrastructure Manager Information Services - Infrastructure, at QBCC explained that the legacy system was not only unreliable, but it was also a legal liability.
“Being a government organisation we must abide by the Freedom of Information Act, under which people request information from our records. Ensuring our data is well protected and is available whenever needed 24.7.365 is extremely important,” said Shah.
Unfortunately, in around half the cases where QBCC needed to recover a file, the information had not been reliably backed up. “We had a 50 per cent failure rate on our backups. That means we weren’t sure if the systems were backing up or not,” said Shah.
In addition, QBCC was concerned about the escalating costs of hosting and maintaining the tape-based system.
“There are a lot of maintenance costs involved in managing a tape backup system: for example, we invest a significant amount in tape cartridges. Another aspect was the effort and time the staff had to invest attempting to recover from failures,” he added.
QBCC already had a significant investment in NetApp’s AltaVault Cloud-Integrated Storage system. It turned to this storage hardware provider for advice and was introduced to FLEXdata, one of NetApp’s premium partners in Queensland. FLEXdata specialises in helping organisations transition from their legacy products by deploying and managing modern storage solutions.
After considering several options with FLEXdata, they decided the Veeam® Availability Suite™ was an ideal fit because of its exceptional features which provide QBCC with the necessary levels of reliability, flexibility and scalability, and in addition, its ability to work in harmony with our existing NetApp infrastructure,” said Shah.
According to QBCC’s Shah, deploying Veeam not only significantly improved the reliability of its backups, it saved money and also freed up QBCC’s IT staff to work on new projects, instead of constantly firefighting the old backup system.
“We looked at a few different options but in the end opted for Veeam because of its exceptional features and ability to work in harmony with our existing NetApp infrastructure,” said Shah.
Once the decision was made, execution of the plan was swift. Planning and implementation took two weeks, and the whole system was up and running six weeks later. “Surprisingly, the project was completed in eight weeks and we had zero downtime when switching over to the new system,” said Shah.
Shah said there wasn’t a requirement for formal staff training. QBCC employees were excited about being part of the new project and moving away from the error-prone legacy system.
According to Shah, “FLEXdata’s skills were really tested in this project and I was impressed with the speed at which they worked and the professionalism they displayed. FLEXdata delivered on time and on budget. It was a great outcome.”
QBCC and Shah are both extremely happy with the new system as it provides several significant benefits.
Reliability of backups has drastically improved from a 50 per cent failure rate to less than two per cent.
Shah said the new system has even improved his health because he no longer has sleepless nights worrying about losing client data. “I sleep better now. Backup was one of my biggest issues. If we weren’t backing up successfully and a system broke, we weren’t confident we could restore those files. Now I am confident the system is reliable, so I can sleep well.”
The new system resides in the cloud and doesn’t require consumables such as tape cartridges or storage space, which has resulted in cost savings of around 80 per cent. As Veeam’s Availability Suite is cloud-based and basically a ‘hands-off’ solution, it leaves QBCC’s IT team with more time to work on new projects.
“There are a lot of maintenance costs in managing a legacy tape library solution. Previously our staff spent significant amounts of time and effort to ensure backup failures were properly reinstated. With Veeam, our costs have come down significantly,” said Shah.
Another major benefit of the Veeam and NetApp solution is the ability to scale with the QBCC’s requirements. The cloud provides endless scalability, eliminating any capacity limitations.
“Scalability is extremely important to us. The Veeam and NetApp solution takes advantage of the cloud and is able to scale endlessly,” said Shah.
“It’s amazing. Our costs went down by 80 per cent and this solution fixed our reliability issues. It’s also scalable that now we can go back to our customers confident in the sustainable availability of their data. It’s very important. This is a significant improvement to our previous backup solution.” added Shah.