The Business Challenge
Having a disaster recovery (DR) plan is one thing; getting through a disaster is something else. In July 2012, PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc. withstood a disaster that was both daunting and enlightening. The firm’s IT infrastructure was so resilient that not one bit of data was lost. This wasn’t a matter of good luck. PBS had deployed proven, reliable hardware and software in its datacenter.
Many of the firm’s clients rely on PBS to store digital copies of official records related to their environmental compliance; therefore, the firm must ensure high availability and fast recovery. By 2010 PBS had virtualized every system and application using VMware vSphere and Dell servers. PBS backed up its virtual machines (VMs) on USB hard drives, but as the number of VMs grew to more than 100, PBS needed a more robust backup and recovery solution built specifically for virtualization.
Todd Leavitt, IT Manager at PBS Engineering and Environmental Inc., had learned about Veeam® Backup & Replication™ at VMworld. He knew Veeam was the right choice for PBS.
“Veeam has saved my bacon more times than any solution I’ve used in the past 20 years,” Leavitt explained. “When I deployed Veeam at PBS, I had no idea it would help us survive a disaster that could have been catastrophic.”
The Veeam Solution
When a contractor mistakenly set off the fire-suppression system in PBS’s datacenter, a fine powder of potassium rained down on the room. Within three hours it had liquefied into an oily, corrosive substance that immediately destroyed three servers by shorting their electrical systems. Within the next six months, more servers and network equipment in the PBS datacenter failed because of corrosion. Nonetheless, Leavitt and his colleagues recovered every bit of data.
PBS had shared Dell storage attached to its Dell servers. Before the disaster, Veeam Backup & Replication had backed up all VMs; therefore, PBS used Veeam to restore VMs from shared and local storage to Dell servers until new replacement units were available. Unexpected failures from corrosion continued to occur, but throughout the ordeal, Leavitt said PBS was able to rely on Veeam to recover VMs every time.
“Our clients and associates never knew servers were literally exploding in the datacenter,” Leavitt said. “If it weren’t for Veeam, VMware and Dell, we’d have been in a devastating situation.”Today PBS continues to use Veeam to back up datacenter VMs locally, but the firm has added redundancy. Leavitt and his colleagues use Veeam to back up datacenter VMs to a storage gateway that syncs to the Amazon Cloud. And when Veeam introduced backup copy jobs with built-in wide-area network (WAN) acceleration, they began sending datacenter backup copies to their DR site, enabling them to master the “3-2-1” rule of storing backups.
“Built-in WAN acceleration helped us another way too,” Leavitt said. “We put Veeam backup proxies in our remote offices so we can back up VMs in those offices to local storage. We use WAN acceleration to transfer backup copies to our datacenter. Before Veeam’s WAN acceleration, we found it impossible to transfer backup copies from remote offices because of bandwidth restraints. Some of the offices have broadband, but it was weak broadband, and these are 300-600 GB VMs. Veeam gives me peace of mind knowing our remote offices are backed up to the datacenter so I can restore VMs if any office crashes.”
Veeam Backup & Replication provides powerful, easy-to-use and affordable backup, recovery and replication for VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. Veeam features a distributed backup architecture to take the workload off the backup server and speed up backup, recovery and replication over WANs. The backup server in PBS’s datacenter manages multiple backup proxies and backup repositories in the firm’s remote sites.
Next Leavitt and his colleagues plan to replicate datacenter VMs to their DR site for additional redundancy. Veeam helps organizations replicate VMs onsite for high availability or offsite for DR. In addition, they can verify recovery points in replicas and the recoverability of backups.
VMs recovered in minutes with no loss of data
Veeam Backup & Replication provides PBS with a single solution for data protection and disaster recovery. During the disaster, PBS restarted VMs from backup storage by running them from compressed and deduplicated backup files. Because PBS virtualized 100% of its systems and applications, Veeam was able to restore all data.
Limited bandwidth doesn’t prevent storage of backup copies offsite
Veeam’s distributed scenario is used in geographically dispersed virtual environments where multiple Veeam backup servers are installed across different sites. This scenario, coupled with Veeam’s built-in WAN acceleration, removes the hurdles to offsite storage with automated, agent-free backup copy jobs.
Back up and recovery of what is needed, when needed and where needed
PBS has mastered the “3-2-1” rule for storing backups with Veeam. The firm stores backup copies onsite, in the cloud and at its DR site. Next PBS plans to replicate VMs to its DR site for additional redundancy.