From near-disaster to global leadership: TiAuto (Pty) Ltd and Tiger Wheel & Tyre’s a division of TiAuto’s virtualisation journey
Virtualised IT environments bring new opportunities for cost savings and efficiency – but they also bring new risks to business continuity, and the need for new tools to manage those risks, as leading local automotive company Tiger Wheel and Tyre has discovered.
One of the most important tools, says Group IT Executive, Melody Fourie, is Veeam, a backup solution designed from the ground up for virtualised environments. “Every single IT executive has the right to know about Veeam,” she says. “If I could get software this good to mitigate my other risks I’d be very happy.”
Not only has Veeam dramatically reduced business continuity risks, adds Fourie, it has also made the IT team, and thus the entire business, more agile. “It’s changed our approach to new software development,” she says. “We can create a new VM server in seconds to do live test scenarios. If it works, we keep it; if it doesn’t, we can roll back just as quickly. We have become more innovative and more willing to take risks in our development. This business is constantly on the move, they can reinvent themselves in weeks – and we’re able to support that.”
Fourie discovered Veeam after a near-disaster: “We lost a disk in our Storage Area Network (SAN) array, and it was 50-50 whether the array would be able to rebuild itself successfully or we’d need to go into a full-scale data recovery. We had the conventional backups to tape, but we weren’t 100% sure we could restore from those, and it would have taken at least two weeks. That was all our critical business servers.”
In the end, the SAN rebuilt itself successfully and the company lost only about eight hours of head office operations – but, says Fourie, “we were very, very lucky. We knew we had to change something and called our partners that same day. One of them mentioned Veeam, which was brand new at that point. We spent about two days setting it up and testing, then licenced all our servers and never looked back. We’ve simulated many, many recovery instances since then and every one of them has been successful.”
Fourie describes Veeam as “insanely fast”: It takes her team less than 15 minutes to restore business critical services and under five hours to restore the entire data centre. Individual virtual machines, or even single files, can be restored within minutes. “It happens at least once a fortnight that somebody deletes a file in a folder on a shared drive and we need to restore it from a backup. That used to take a senior resource two days to do from tape – now it’s a 30-second drag and drop”.
Disaster recovery and change management is now the easiest part of her IT audit, says Fourie. “We show the auditors live how we recover a machine and they sit there with their eyes wide open. I only wish I’d discovered this sooner.”
At VMWorld Europe in 2012, Tiger Wheel & Tyre was awarded the best virtualisation and server consolidation project award, as well as the best of show award for its innovative use of technology.