Created in 1886, V.Pharma is a Belgian cooperative of pharmaceutical retailers that currently serves more than 135,000 customers in the Liège province. It has around 40 pharmacies in its network, as well as six stores selling paramedical equipment under the G.MEDI brand. The cooperative’s administrative headquarters act as a central warehouse and a wholesalerdistributor for the pharmacies the network, which sell close to 3 million packs of medicines each year.
V.Pharma also provides IT services to all points of sale across the network and, therefore, its headquarters need to ensure that pharmacies can access data from the central store, which distributes 95% of the medicines ordered by the network’s pharmacies.
Ensuring data availability and relying on a high-performance data management system has always been a priority for V.Pharma, as data drives all logistics activities. “As a multi-site company with centralized general services, we have a responsibility to ensure an impeccable level of service for points of sale across our network,” explains Vincent Raze, IT Director at V.Pharma. “A service interruption would not only lead to supply chain disruption and delay the delivery of medicines to pharmacies, but it would also bring the operations of the six G. MEDI paramedical equipment stores to a standstill, since their servers are hosted at V. Pharma’s headquarters”.
V.Pharma follows the 3-2-1 rule of backup. In addition to its main data set, the cooperative stores its backup data on a separate array and hosts a second set of backup data separately on a remote site, located 50km away from its headquarters. As Raze explains: “This is the only way to ensure that V.Pharma’s data is efficiently protected. In the event of a major incident such as a Cryptolocker attack, we must be able to take quick action and restore the data as quickly as possible, without slowing down any activity.”
V.Pharma also relies on data availability to develop and boost the activity of its e-commerce site, Pharma Express, a website for the direct sale of non-prescription medicines, health and beauty products and medical equipment to consumers — an important source of additional revenue for the cooperative.
V.Pharma had been a long-term user of Veeam® for many years, so when the time came to review its backup and storage platform the cooperative was eager to renew its trust in Veeam Backup & Replication™. Veeam was well known for reliability and its scalability, as well as the better cost-effectiveness of renewing existing licenses. Raze notes, “Veeam is the undisputed market leader, regularly developing new features and offering integrations with cloud products which their competitors do not. Their solutions are more advanced and reliable and allow for effective data management.” This view was confirmed by the inconclusive tests carried out with off-the-shelf solutions combining both hardware and software. “Change management is never trivial, especially when available alternatives require too much adjusting. This represents an indirect cost to the business. I was fully satisfied with Veeam,” adds Raze.
V.Pharma however had challenges with secondary storage, and after evaluating multiple storage vendors, it eventually turned to Quantum DXi deduplication storage, which make it possible to leverage Veeam Data Mover software to accelerate backup and recovery data transfers. It also means the cooperative now has three times more space available for data backup, while taking advantage of the efficiencies of a Veeam + Quantum partnership. With the previous platform they had 4TB, but with Quantum they now have 11TB. “I was after an easy-to-manage solution that was both efficient and reliable. The combination of Veeam and Quantum Dxi perfectly meets these requirements, plus Veeam is certified for Quantum hardware”, states Raze. V.Pharma also was able to keep support costs lower by opting for Quantum and Veeam.
Veeam and Quantum also brought further advantages. In the past, V.Pharma regularly reached saturation, despite effective deduplication. Full backups, performed weekly through the night from Saturday to Sunday, frequently exceeded the defined backup windows, which proved problematic and hard to maintain. With the new solution, the cooperative can utilize the functionality provided by Veeam Backup & Replication, meaning overall backup times are now on average 30% faster.
Today, thanks to the environment put in place by Quantum and Veeam, V.Pharma has a much more stable and solid IT system with much less downtime and greater confidence in protecting approximately 10TBs of data. Veeam secures warehouse data that is critical in keeping logistical ERP applications running, so that pharmacies are always well-supplied, as well as protecting sales, promotional and pricing data which helps the business with better decision-making. Critically, V.Pharma’s e-commerce website also runs uninterrupted due to Veeam’s ability to backup and restore SQL databases, meaning consumers can always purchase the non-prescription medicines that they need for their well-being.
Belgian brand V.Pharma is a cooperative of around 40 pharmacies and paramedical equipment stores serving more than 135,000 customers in the Liège province. V.Pharma handles the supply chain of its members and the distribution of pharmaceutical products, as well as the provision of IT services for the entire network.
Data availability is critical to supply the 3 million boxes of medicine sold each year through the network’s pharmacies and to the development of V.Pharma’s e-commerce activity in the pharmaceutical sector.