The navigable waterways of France are a vital national asset, enabling the efficient and timely transportation of millions of tons of freight daily, and supporting a diverse — and financially important — array of leisure and tourism activities. The services delivered by VNF play a critical role in keeping these activities running reliably and safely.
Like all modern organizations, VNF depends on information technology to keep its operations running smoothly and efficiently. But with servers and storage spread across multiple locations and protected by a variety of backup and recovery solutions — including Commvault, Rubrik and Tina — costs and complexity were high while success rates were low.
Philippe Sakwinski, Project Leader at Voies Navigables de France, comments: “First and foremost, our mission is to serve the needs of waterway users. Managing all these different backup technologies in different locations was a drain on our resources and a distraction from our mission. Complexity and training costs were high, and worst of all, we weren’t confident in our ability to quickly and reliably restore data and VMs [virtual machines] from backups.” As part of a broader exercise to centralize its infrastructure from branch offices to a single production data center, VNF sought to standardize on a single technology for all its backup and recovery needs.
“One of our new requirements was to protect Microsoft Office 365 data for our 4,500 users,” said Philippe Sakwinski. “We wanted a single solution able to protect everything — both on-premises and in the cloud — and fully compatible with our existing landscape. And it was vital to gain a high degree of reliability and automation. With our IT team, we need to focus on new projects and serving the needs of the internal business, not on running technology.”
VNF reviewed its existing roster of backup and recovery solutions and sought advice both from Gartner and from AXIANS, its regular systems integrator.
“We had already introduced Veeam® Backup & Replication™ in our data center and several branch offices, based on the company’s reputation and on the solution’s compatibility with our chosen HyperV and VMware virtualization platforms,” said Philippe Sakwinski. “The Veeam solution was working perfectly for us, and our partners agreed that it would be the optimal platform on which to standardize our backup and recovery.”
He added: “It’s also reassuring to see the number of large global enterprises who are references for Veeam, which gives us great confidence that we are investing in robust technology that will easily scale to our needs.”
VNF rationalized its existing licenses under Veeam Universal License, which offers a simple ‘one machine, one license’ approach and will enable the organization to move licenses flexibly between on-premises and cloud environments. Selecting Veeam also provided access to a Microsoft-approved solution for protecting Office 365: Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365.
“Our goal was: ‘one policy, one tool, one way of working’,” said Philippe Sakwinski. “Veeam gives us everything we need for backing up our entire infrastructure, both today and tomorrow in the cloud. As well as substantially reducing our total cost for backup and recovery, the Veeam solution combines simplicity of operation with performance and exceptional reliability.”
Following a smooth implementation executed by AXIANS, VNF is using Veeam to protect 230 VMs and 110 TB of data in its data center. As a result, backup is faster and fully reliable, helping VNF to achieve its service level agreements (SLAs) for recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO).
“Before we standardized on Veeam, we used a variety of solutions from Rubrik and Commvault, our backup was complicated and recovery was almost impossible,” said Philippe Sakwinski. “Everything runs smoothly now, and the virtual lab feature enables us to be confident that we can recover data and VMs perfectly. It’s not possible to quantify the gains — because we had no way of measuring before — but it’s very clear that we’re saving huge amounts of time and effort.”
He added, “One supplementary benefit of having better organization and control around our backups is that it’s easier to comply with GDPR regulation. We know where the important data is stored, and we can find it easily in the event of an audit.”
In addition to protecting key systems and data more reliably, the Veeam solution has improved service levels to internal users by enabling the IT team to provide accurate timelines and the certainty of success when they receive requests to restore files or other data. And with Veeam ONE™, VNF has a powerful tool for managing and reporting on all activities, providing full transparency and easy control.
As the first step in its migration to the cloud, VNF is using Veeam as a migration tool, backing up servers in branch offices and then restoring them as VMs in its Béthune data center. As well as reducing risk, time and effort, this use case will work equally well for moving the virtualized servers to the cloud.
“Our ambition is to migrate production systems to the cloud in order to benefit from the flexibility, scalability and speed of deployment,” said Philippe Sakwinski. “Migrating to the cloud will also allow us to focus less on the technology stack and more on supporting our agents. We first need to centralize and rationalize the existing infrastructure, and Veeam is making that process fast, easy and risk-free.”
Voies navigables de France (VNF) is the national waterways operator. The sole organization acting across the entire French territory, VNF is at the heart of the waterway ecosystem that it manages. As such, VNF is a key player in the promotion and efficient functioning of the waterways. The organization has three primary public-service missions: promoting waterway logistics, land-use planning and the development of tourism, and the overall management of water across the 6,700 km of rivers and canals for which it is responsible. A number of sectors — industry, logistics, leisure, agriculture, tourism, hydroelectricity — benefit from its assistance.
To keep improving the efficiency of its 4,500 employees, VNF protects key applications and data from unscheduled downtime, loss or corruption by backing up its servers and storage. However, the use of multiple backup and recovery solutions in multiple locations — with varying success rates — was pushing up both costs and complexity. The organization set out to enhance, centralize and rationalize its capabilities.