The Business Challenge
The 28-person IT team for Spring ISD oversees the main data center at the district’s headquarters and an off-site backup center for disaster recovery. The team supports approximately 3,000 employees and 17,000 students who have computer access, and maintains more than 15,000 computers, 5,000 IP phones, and almost 3,000 printers scattered throughout the 38 schools in the district.
The IT infrastructure includes 150 physical servers used for business and accounting systems, student files, grades and reporting. A traditional physical backup tool is used to safeguard these servers. In 2009, Spring ISD began virtualizing some of its applications, and today has 12 VMware ESX hosts for 135 virtual machines (VMs) that run Microsoft Active Directory, SQL Server databases, Web services and identity management systems. On average, the IT team backs up six to 10 terabytes of data every day. Initially, the backup tool used for the physical servers was used for the virtual machines, but this did not prove satisfactory.
According to Chris Kent, Director of Infrastructure for Spring ISD, “Backup with our legacy tool was overtaxing the VMs, and it was taking much too long, which was significantly slowing user access to data. While we were satisfied with our physical server backup, in the back of my mind I was worried that something would go wrong. I felt we needed a backup tool that was designed especially for a virtual environment.”
The search for a solution to back up Spring ISD’s VMs was brief. Broadleaf, an outside consultant specializing in disaster recovery and virtualization, recommended that the IT team take a look at Veeam®. “Broadleaf came in and did a demo, and we were blown away,” Kent said. “Once we saw what Veeam could do, there really was no need to look at any other product.”
The Veeam Solution
The IT team at Spring ISD found what it was looking for with Veeam Backup & Replication™ and Veeam ONE™.
Veeam Backup and Replication was implemented because it fully supports the virtual environment, is easy to install and use, and ensures continuous data protection for applications and operating systems. The speed at which backups can be performed was the first thing Kent and his colleagues noticed. “Using our legacy backup tool, it took three to four hours per virtual machine,” Kent observed. “Now it takes only two or three minutes for each VM. The amount of time it saves us is extraordinary. The speed alone makes buying the product worthwhile.”
The Instant VM Recovery capability in Veeam Backup & Replication is one of the key capabilities that Spring ISD values. It lets the IT team quickly restore an entire machine from a backup by running the VM directly from a backup file. “With Instant VM Recovery, we can recover both data and the operating system, which is a key asset,” Kent explained.
Veeam ONE was added to give the IT team real-time monitoring of performance, events and resource utilization. The monitoring capability in Veeam ONE offers Kent and his team a comprehensive view of the entire virtual infrastructure, which enables them to pinpoint and react to issues quickly. “We find the ability to monitor disk usage and memory especially useful,” Kent noted. “If one VM is running out of memory, we can adjust accordingly. The performance analysis is also valuable, as it helps us be proactive in identifying and resolving problems.”
Support is also important to the IT team. “Veeam support is exceptional,” Kent said. “Although the products are easy to use and largely self-explanatory, we did have some questions when we initially installed the products. The support staff responded without delay, and their answers were right on the money. We’ve found this to be the case every time we call.”
Backup speed increased by 10x or more
Veeam Backup & Replication performs VM backups at least 10 times faster than Spring ISD’s previous backup tool. The IT team can perform daily backups in two or three minutes per VM, rather than the four hours it took previously.
Full VM restores take minutes, without disrupting users
The Instant VM Recovery capability in Veeam Backup & Replication lets Spring ISD’s IT team restore an entire machine from a backup in minutes. This includes both data and operating systems, which is important to the IT team and its users.
Real-time monitoring provides quick notification of performance issues and
access to resource utilization data
Veeam ONE provides a comprehensive view of the entire virtual infrastructure and 24/7 unattended monitoring. The IT team can easily monitor disk usage and memory, which is particularly valuable for ensuring the availability and performance of virtualized applications.