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Law firm merger ditches tape for Veeam/Exagrid disk-based backup

London-based Charles Russell Speechlys used Veeam as a migration tool after merger between two law firms, then paired it with Exagrid data deduplication to revamp backup regime

Merged law firm Charles Russell Speechlys has deployed Veeam virtual machine (VM) backup and Exagrid disk-based data deduplication in a move triggered by a company merger.

The 2014 merger saw the Veeam-based backup regime of Charles Russell supplant the Veritas Backup Exec and tape approach used by Speechlys Bircham and cut file restores from days or weeks to minutes.

The merged Charles Russell Speechlys is based in London with regional offices in Guildford and Cheltenham, plus six Europe and Middle East locations.

It has 500 lawyers and 1,100 UK staff, plus two primary UK datacentres where core applications are  Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server and law-industry specific apps InterAction CRM, BigHand dictation and WorkSite content management.

The firm is 98% virtualised, with around 800 VMs and 160TB of data to be backed up. There are some physical servers for domain controllers.

When the two companies merged  they had separate backup environments. Charles Russell had Veeam in place since 2010, while Speechlys Bircham had Veritas Backup Exec with backup to tape every day.

Charles Russell head of IT infrastructure, Abba Abbaszadi, said it was an obvious move to replace the Backup Exec and tape regime it found at Speechlys Bircham with Veeam’s Availability Suite backup software.

“The whole process of backing up to tape every day took a lot of resource to support, and the restore process could take in some circumstances several hours or even days to get a file back,” said Abbaszadi.

“We liked Veeam because it was specifically designed for the virtual world. Other backup products seemed to add virtual server backup rather than being designed ground-up.”

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A key initial task in the merger was to replace the Speechlys Bircham backup system. This was done by extending Veeam across the two merged firms’ sites then replicating Speechlys Bircham VMs to the new primary datacentre.

Following these migration tasks, the backup regime implemented has been a combination of daily incremental backup and full weekly backup using a GFS rotation on Veeam, with the company now using Availability Suite version 9.

Backup target is a series of Exagrid data deduplication disk-based backup appliances, on which the law firm attains data reduction ratios of around 7:1. Data is then replicated between two sets of Exagrid hardare at the two primary datacentres.

Backups are retained online for six months before being archived to tape. For the very small number of physical servers in use, Charles Russell Speechlys uses Veeam’s Endpoint Backup.

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