The company also gained improved service levels into the bargain, said IT chief Vincent Raze. “In 2018, when the issue of replacing our end-of-life Data Domain backup storage came up, I turned initially to Dell EMC,” he said. “My first intention was just to double the capacity we had acquired three years earlier. But I was taken aback when Dell EMC proposed new models that were three times more expensive than what we had.”
In 2015, Raze bought two DD260 arrays of 4TB to 6TB each at €7,500 each. Then, in 2018, Dell EMC proposed two arrays of 10TB to 12TB each for a total price of €44,000.
Nakivo Backup & Replication is an up-and-coming system aimed at protecting VMware environments and which seemed to have gained some kudos among system administrators. Nakivo is certified for use with Quantum DXi backup arrays.
“I approached a Quantum integrator in the Liège area and ordered two 2U DXi4700 arrays, each with 11TB raw capacity, for a price that corresponded with my budget,” said Raze. “But in the event, I kept Veeam, which is also certified for the Quantum hardware. In effect, because we already had the Veeam licences, it cost me less to continue to pay for that support rather than subscribe to new Nakivo licences.”
V.Pharma’s IT stack comprises three VMware ESX servers at the company’s headquarters that run to several TB of capacity. Each of these has a Veeam virtual machine which runs overnight incremental backup for the other VMs nightly, plus full backups every week.
When it comes to retention, V.Pharma keeps monthly backups for a year and then, beyond that, annual backups. In Belgium, the requirement for pharmaceutical sector organisations to retain commercial information prevails over the time periods imposed by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
A second Quantum array, deployed at a secure site 50km from HQ, keeps a copy of the backups. Replication is via a simple internet connection, which is fibre in the Liège region.
“All our backups comprise a lot of data, but we use data deduplication to reduce them,” said Raze. “So our backups only occupy 3.2TB for each DXi, which corresponds to 17.7TB worth of data that we can restore.”
According to Quantum, each DXi can scale to 135TB by adding disk shelves.
Raze could not say whether there is a great deal of difference between the data deduplication capabilities of the Data Domain and Quantum boxes, but he has noticed that the latter has shortened backup times, without having changed anything on the network.
“Previously, backups would take three hours or three and a half,” he said. “Now they’re done in two and a half.”
Quantum makes a big deal about being one of the only suppliers of backup arrays (with Exagrid) to integrate Veeam’s Data Mover software into its arrays. A backup array is fundamentally a NAS box and Veeam Data Mover is an installed proxy that accelerates NFS processing, by a factor of three, according to Quantum.
“This feature allows backups to run at a speed in the region of 120MBps,” said Raze. “Data Domain has equivalent functionality, but that needs a Veeam enterprise licence, which we don’t have.”
The Quantum arrays have proved very simple to administer, said Raze. “The first problem I resolved was to configure the three Ethernet so that one is reserved for local hosts’ backups and another is for replication to our remote site. This operation took less than half a day because of the very intuitive GUI.”
Maintenance operations – which are rarely needed – can be carried out during updates, which only require a click to install. All monitoring is via a console so evolved that Raze says he has not yet discovered all the functions possible.
“Nothing at all like this existed in our previous solution,” he said.
It is in the area of support that Quantum stands out for Raze. “It far ahead of Data Domain,” he said. “When we moved the spare array, we forgot to configure some parameters. I called support and got an immediate solution to the problem, in French. Previously, I’d always get someone speaking English who would have to refer me to a higher level to deal with my issue.”
Raze was so satisfied with the support that he looked at going to Quantum for general storage arrays when they came up for renewal. “Their offer in this area wasn’t competitive, though, which is a shame,” he said.