Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF) is an integral part of society, making significant contributions to support economic stability in the energy and agriculture sectors. WesCEF is comprised of several business units. The energy business unit, Kleenheat, supplies natural gas to thousands of businesses and homes. The fertilizer business unit, CSBP, provides tons of fertilizer to farmers so they can grow bountiful crops.
Agriculture is Australia’s fastest growing economic sector. According to a 2019 report from AgriFutures Australia, agriculture contributed more than $63 billion to the economy in 2017. The National Farmers’ Federation predicts agriculture’s contribution will grow to $100 billion by 2030.
The best way WesCEF can support the economy is by making sure its business units are fully operational. The most effective way to ensure this is to provide them with rock-solid business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR) strategies that recover critical IT systems fast.
“Our challenge was slow recovery,” said Adem Cahtarevic, technology systems manager at WesCEF. “We were using three backup solutions, but none of them could recover critical systems fast enough including our ERPs.”
If Kleenheat can’t recover Oracle E-Business Suite, details of customer accounts are not visible, and the business is unable to resolve queries or add new customers requesting gas supplies.
If CSBP can’t recover Oracle JD Edwards, which is linked to its point-of-sale system, the business can’t track and charge for the correct amount of fertilizer provided to a farmer and help them monitor their history of fertilizer use. Cahtarevic and his colleagues tested several replacements for legacy backup including CommVault and Veeam® Availability Suite™.
“It became clear very quickly that Veeam was the perfect solution for our businesses and the antidote to unreliable legacy backup,” said Elliot Segler, senior cloud engineer at WesCEF. “Recovery is blistering fast and reliable, so we trust Veeam implicitly to protect our data. Since we deployed it, we’ve expanded our use significantly, and one thing is for sure: Veeam will protect anything we throw at it.”
Veeam became the backbone of each business unit’s BC and DR strategy, revealing remarkable scalability as data grew by hundreds of terabytes in two years, and stellar sustainability as WesCEF modernized the IT infrastructure. Cisco HyperFlex was deployed first, followed by Microsoft Office 365 and Amazon S3. Veeam increased data recovery speed tenfold (taking minutes rather than hours) and proved IT can be a business enabler.
“Veeam is incredibly scalable, no matter what we throw at it,” Cahtarevic said. “It’s simple to use and it always works, underpinning our business operations now and into the future. Veeam provides the best data protection on the market, offers the broadest integration with storage and lets us reliably retain data as long as we need in the cloud.”
Segler called Veeam integration with HyperFlex a gamechanger.
“Using Veeam to back up from HyperFlex storage snapshots is mind-blowing,” Segler said. “We can’t believe recovery is 10 times quicker — it’s like night and day. Veeam helps us protect the business.”
Veeam backs up 450 TB across 550 virtual machines on-premises from HyperFlex storage snapshots for fast, local recovery and replicates off-premises for DR. Veeam Agent for Oracle Solaris ensures ERPs are protected, and self-service portal Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager gives each business unit the opportunity to recover critical data and applications on their own including ERPs.
“Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager is hugely beneficial to our business units and to us in IT,” Cahtarevic said. “They can quickly restore whatever they need to keep their operations running, which lightens our workload and gives us extra time to test their BC and DR strategies more frequently. Plus, Backup Enterprise Manager gives us a consolidated view of every backup server so we can control, monitor and manage all jobs through a single pane of glass.”
Next WesCEF deployed Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365. While Microsoft offers powerful services in Office 365, comprehensive backup isn’t one of them. To eliminate the risk of losing access and control of data in Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, Veeam backs up on-premises and sends backup copies to Amazon S3 for cost-efficient, long-term retention.
“Each business unit wants access to all the data they’ve accrued over decades, so this is why Veeam Cloud Data Management is so important to us,” Segler said. “Veeam helps us protect their data and keep it available forever in S3.”
Nick Davies, senior systems administrator at WesCEF, said Veeam offers two big benefits related to S3.
“The first is being able to instantaneously copy the most recent restore point so we can extend the 3-2-1 Rule to object storage. The second benefit is immutability of backups, helping us protect backups from being modified or deleted by hackers and ransomware. Both capabilities broaden our BC and DR strategies.”
Cahtarevic said Veeam proved IT can be a business benefactor rather than a cost center, driving growth and sustaining success.
“Business continuity is our highest priority, and Veeam supports us by providing the best data protection available. Veeam is a constant for us.”
WesCEF operates chemical, energy and fertilizer businesses serving a wide range of sectors domestically and internationally. Based in Perth and employing approximately 1,500 people, WesCEF is part of Wesfarmers Limited, a Fortune Global 500 company and one of Australia’s largest publicly listed companies.
WesCEF plays a pivotal role in Western Australia’s economy because its business units support several industries including energy and agriculture. WesCEF’s challenge was ensuring each business unit had a powerful BC and DR strategy to protect critical applications such as Oracle ERP software. One business unit relies on ERP software to support the sale of natural gas to thousands of people’s homes and offices. Another business unit counts on ERP software to sustain production and delivery of tons of fertilizer to farmers.