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The Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found one size did not fit all for its backups, so it now uses three applications to protect physical and virtual machines, including Veeam backup software.
The CAMH information web portal department had 30 physical servers and between 50 and 60 virtual machines (VMs) running Microsoft Hyper-V. The infrastructure handled websites and critical applications that the medical staff depended on for care of 30,000 patients.
"The major problem was the backup process for the virtual machines," said Alan Tang, team lead of the web and portal information management group at CAMH. "It would take a long time, and most of the restores were not successful."
The problem became exacerbated when the data was growing up to 25% per year. Most of the growth came from data in Microsoft SharePoint and public-facing websites that patients and families relied on for resources, such as emergency medical treatment information.
Tang said CAMH used Acronis and Dell EMC's NetWorker for backup before adding Veeam Software's Backup & Replication to the mix three years ago. He said the Acronis and Dell EMC products work well for physical servers, but agents had to be installed for each VM.
Before adding the Veeam backup software, backups were slow, because the CAMH backup apps backed up physical hosts simultaneously with virtual machines. The agent would move the data across the network to a backup target.
"The [backup application] does not know it's a VM," Tang said. "They don't treat it like a VM. It works, but it has a lot to be desired. It's a lot of overhead. You don't have the advantage of running the backup from the VM's point of view."
The restores were even more difficult, as the customer has to restore to a physical target or create a separate VM. Tang said the VMs didn't get the benefits of features like snapshots, deduplication and application-aware unless there was a plug-in for that specific application.
"You also don't get a central point of view of how your backups are going," he said. "It's different than treating them like physical servers."
CAMH still uses Acronis and Dell EMC NetWorker to back up physical servers, but Tang said the Veeam backup software makes VM backups much easier.
"It's a more efficient solution, for sure," Tang said. "It's hypervisor-based, so you install it on the physical machine and it backs up the VMs. The Veeam application runs on the Veeam server, and then you connect it to the virtual server infrastructure and then on the hosts. You don't have to go to the VMs and install anything. In fact, the VM is aware of the backup."
Tang said CAMH uses Veeam backup software to protect 10 TB on Hyper-V VMs. It also does off-site replication between Nimble CS-Series arrays, including snapshot replication between data centers.
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