Stony Brook University shares a commonality with its peers in the SUNY system and with institutions of higher education worldwide. The IT team that manages virtual machine (VM) backup, as well as a myriad of other responsibilities, is small but mighty with only three members. They’re responsible for maintaining 24x7 availability of critical university systems so students and faculty have access to whatever they need, whenever they need it.
Critical is a relative term. For universities, critical systems range from streaming instructional videos used by students to a report management system used by campus police. While it’s certainly critical for students to access instructional videos whenever they need them, it’s unequivocally critical that campus police have access to their report management system for situations ranging from day-to-day parking violations to the worst-case scenario, an active shooter crisis. These two situations are worlds apart, but they demonstrate the dire need for 24x7 access to data.
“When legacy backup made it difficult to maintain 24x7 availability of critical systems, we acted fast,” said Shrikant Iyer, Systems Engineer at Stony Brook University. “We didn’t have visibility into the backup process, so we didn’t know if every backup was successful. We also couldn’t gauge how long recovery would take because it could take hours. Our job is to restore quickly when a developer makes an incorrect code change; when SQL Server isn’t responding to web applications used by our faculty and students; and when we’re demonstrating compliance practices during an audit. We need to know that our backups complete successfully and that recovery will be fast.”
Veeam® Backup & Replication™ keeps critical campus systems running 24x7 for Stony Brook University—from streaming instructional videos to the police department’s report management system.
“Veeam’s biggest benefit to the university is 24x7 availability,” Iyer said. “The extra functionality Veeam provides, which lowers our risk of data loss, is a big plus.”
The extra functionality Veeam provides—visibility into backup performance combined with high-speed recovery—help Stony Brook demonstrate data regulatory compliance quickly and easily. Visibility is attained through daily email notifications about backup performance, as well as real-time monitoring of backup performance, enabling the team to proactively resolve backup issues before they impact the university. High-speed recovery happens for two reasons. First, Veeam leverages changed block tracking by restoring only the changed blocks from the last backup, not the entire virtual disk, making recovery super fast. Another reason for high-speed recovery is Stony Brook’s use of a Veeam feature called Instant VM Recovery®, which restores a VM from a regular backup in minutes.
“Speed and ease set Veeam apart from the moment of deployment,” Iyer said. “I had Veeam up and running within 15 minutes because it was so easy to install and configure. We’re amazed by Veeam’s portability too. Moving Veeam is fast, easy and painless each time we do a hardware refresh.”
Stony Brook University is not the only institution in the SUNY system to use Veeam. Another is SUNY Cortland, which serves 7,000 students and counts on Veeam for 24x7 availability and business continuity. Josh Peluso, Director of Systems Administration and Web Services at SUNY Cortland, said Veeam backs up and recovers VMs the way virtualization intended.
“The confidence we have in Veeam is extraordinary,” Peluso explained. “It’s because of Veeam that we’ve been able to restore critical systems in minutes such as Active Directory, which plays a major role in our identity management program. Our users access the campus portal with an ID that provides appropriate levels of access to online services. Those levels require intricate programming in Active Directory. Before Veeam, we worried about being able to reinstate access privileges. With Veeam we just roll back to the previous backup and restore in minutes.”