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Dutch bank set to save €5m via Veeam backup upgrade

Rabobank ditched legacy backup where patching took months and restores took hours. Those times are now cut down massively and the bank has a readily available test environment

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Netherlands-based Rabobank has deployed Veeam backup to replace a legacy data protection product with projected savings of around €5m over five years.

These savings come as a result of much-reduced maintenance and upgrades to backup software, as well as significantly faster restore times.

The project was carried out as two trading arms of Rabobank had their IT infrastructure combined. These were its international division with a presence in nearly 40 countries, and its largely Netherlands-based retail division.

Their IT and backup infrastructures differed significantly, with EMC NetWorker/Legato, Veritas NetBackup and IBM TSM backup software present in the international arm and just TSM in the retail operation.

The big challenge in the existing backup environment centred on upgrade and restore times, which were extremely onerous, said manager of storage and compute in Europe, Colin Chatelier.

“We really wanted to move away from the legacy backup environment, which was not built from the bottom up for virtual server backup, and we wanted to be a rock-solid bank in terms of security and the integrity of the environment,” he said.

With the previous backup products patching would take up to six months, with something like 10,000 backup agents needing to be updated.

Data protection

The company plumped for a replacement backup product from Veeam, which was built for virtual machine data protection. Over the course of three months, 10,600 virtual machines were migrated to Veeam.

After that migration – to six Veeam instances – patching and upgrades took just three hours instead of six months.

In the process, Rabobank migrated almost solely to VMware as a virtualisation platform, whereas there had been significant Microsoft Hyper-V in the retail arm.

The big benefits come from a backup product that’s built for virtual deployments and is significantly faster to complete many tasks. “Legacy products kept promising they would back up virtual environments next year, and then next year after that,” said Chatelier.

“We’re seeing restores that are 75-80% faster, and in some environments, such as SQL, they’re four times faster.”

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Rabobank is also using Veeam Virtual Lab and SureBackup in which “dozens” of servers are being restored every week to test the quality of restores.

The rapidity of restores also contributes to good economics in the test and development environment, where good copies of production data are used and where cutting down the time to produce them helps avoid costly developer time going to waste.

“We have very few restores in anger, but if we do, it is nice to shave a few hours off, and repopulating a test environment efficiently is a very important thing to do,” said Chatelier.

The projection is that Rabobank will save €5m over five years. A big contributor to that is that Veeam is charged by the central processing unit (CPU) rather than by the amount of data backed up.

“The legacy provider based its charges on ‘occupancy’ – in other words, the amount of data backed up – and could cost thousands per server,” said Chatelier. “For the price of five pints of beer, we can back up a server in Veeam.”

Chatelier’s team has implemented an incremental forever backup schema, with monthly synthetic fulls. The company’s Hitachi SAN environment is used as a backup target, with 90TB a day being protected and around 3PB in total backed up.

For the time being, Rabobank is backing up entirely on-site. It plans to use the cloud as a backup target in future, but would like to wait until Veeam runs natively in the cloud, said Chatelier.

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