Optimised performance and rapid recovery

US compliance and training solutions specialist BLR implemented Veeam solutions to ensure 24x7 availability, cutting recovery time by 99.8%

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 11 December 2015
Optimised performance and rapid recovery

This article first appeared in the Autumn 2015 issue of OnWindows magazine.

For more than 35 years, Business & Legal Resources (BLR) has simplified compliance with state and federal legal requirements for US businesses. BLR offers accredited content, training and tools for human resources and employment law, workplace safety, environmental compliance, compensation and benefits, and politics and legal markets. Information is available through web portals, training programmes, events, reports and subscription services.

Slow backup and recovery, combined with increasing data volumes, made it impossible for BLR to meet service level agreements (SLAs) for uptime. To effectively handle the influx of data and modernise its data centre, BLR moved its IT infrastructure to the Cisco UCS platform and rolled out Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 on Windows Server 2012 R2. However, its backup vendor was not yet able to support the technology. “We were ahead of the backup vendor’s technology, which didn’t work – at all,” says John Burks, director of information technology at BLR. “We felt like we were living on the bleeding edge.”

Burks visited Microsoft TechEd in 2014, and purchased Veeam Backup & Replication after being impressed by a demonstration and discussing his needs with a Veeam representative. A year later, he returned to tell the representative that the solution had saved the day for BLR several times, and mentioned the company’s need for a better way to document and manage its Hyper-V backup infrastructure.

BLR’s monitoring tool didn’t provide ­real-time reporting and interactive dashboards, and the company had no metrics in the virtual environment to document changes occurring in the data centres. The monitoring tool also delivered false-positive alerts about failed backups when they hadn’t failed. A demonstration of Veeam ONE convinced Burks that the solution could help BLR take control of its Hyper-V backup infrastructure.

Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam ONE deliver 24x7 availability of BLR’s products and services, enabling the IT team to meets SLAs regardless of a 400% increase in data. Veeam solutions are designed specifically for virtualisation, enabling backup, replication, recovery, monitoring, reporting and capacity planning for thousands of virtual machines.

BLR can now perform daily full backups because the backup window has been cut in half – from 12 hours to six hours – with Veeam Backup & Replication. In addition, more recovery points increase the availability of data, especially critical data on virtual machines running Microsoft SQL, Exchange and Windows servers. BLR is able to replicate among its data centres, so if a virtual machine fails or a data centre burns down, it can restore data quickly.

In addition to improving availability, Instant VM Recovery, which enables a failed virtual machine to be restarted quickly from a regular backup, has saved BLR US$40,000 in hardware. Instead of setting up a separate test environment for web developers, BLR uses Instant VM Recovery to restore a VM from a backup if developers want to make a coding change to a web server during rollouts or testing.

The solution has decreased BLR’s recovery time by 99.8%. File-level recovery with the legacy backup tool, which used to take four hours, now takes 30 seconds. “We don’t worry about outages with Veeam because we can recover virtual machines running our websites without customers ever knowing,” says Burks. “There is no chance of data loss if you’re using Veeam. If you do lose data, it’s not because of Veeam. It’s because of human error.”

Backup storage requirements have also been reduced. Most of BLR’s Veeam backups have data compression ratios of 3:1. This reduced disk storage by 70% even when data grew by 400%, saving the company US$200,000 in hardware costs. Compressed and deduplicated backups enable BLR to keep more of them on disk storage before using Veeam to copy backups to tape, saving US$30,000 per year in tape costs.

Veeam ONE’s interactive dashboards, metrics and real-time reporting help BLR to document its virtual environment, optimising performance and utilisation of the Hyper-V backup infrastructure. “Never undervalue reporting in Veeam ONE, especially if your company is in ­hyper-growth mode like ours,” says Burks. “I can’t begin to imagine the amount of time I would spend documenting and forecasting growth without Veeam ONE. Preparing the capital budget will be significantly easier this year.”

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