Hi, I’m Dan Taylor, a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to IT for ICON.
At my previous employer, I implemented a small VMware infrastructure and learned the value of virtualization quickly. When I came to ICON, they had a small VM deployment with Virtual Server 2005 and instead of trying to push VMware on them, I just went with it. We moved forward with virtualization on Virtual Server, but only for non mission critical needs, such as running our helpdesk software, our Blackberry server and our internet reporting server.
When Virtual Machine Manager 2007 came out, I started playing with P2V. Needless to say, it was so simple that we got carried away with it. We started virtualizing more important roles, such as our Pharmacy server, an interface server and our certificate server. All of these were light-load servers, but had business-critical status assigned to them. We realized that we needed to re-think what we were doing. Should we VM just because we can? How do we protect these servers? We also wanted to ensure a very high level of business continuity so that we have little, and if possible, no downtime for our operations. And of course, cost was a factor.
That is where DPM 2007 came in.
Its release could not have been timed better for us. It offered the capability to backup VM’s, and we definitely needed it at this point. We pushed to get it approved and implemented right away. Setup was very simple, but learning how to get reliable backups was not as easy. We found that our VM’s were not getting protected as we had expected. Come to find out, it is not a good practice to make one protection group for all of our VM’s. Through trial and error, we learned that multiple protection groups with four to five VM’s per group yielded very successful results, and we were off to the races!
It’s one thing to know you are backing something up, but what about the day when something goes wrong? We’ve had VM’s crash, and DPM has been very reliable for us at restoring those VM’s, and very quick, as well. I’ve never had to second guess whether I would be able to recover a VM with DPM.
When it came to Hyper-V, it had some of the features we needed, but I wanted to wait until it RTM’d to start putting servers into production. Then, again, came the question of building VM’s. Should we do it just because we can? I was fortunate enough to have met a couple of the product managers at Storage Networking World in 2008 and they invited me onto the TAP of DPM. They informed me that SP1 was to add protection of Hyper-V. As soon as the early bits to DPM SP1 became available, we jumped into Hyper-V in a big way, including our Exchange 07 servers.
Our experience has been quite a positive one. We found DPM’s ability to backup and restore Hyper-V VM’s more reliable than Virtual Server was when we first started testing the waters of DPM07. This year I also upgraded our Exchange Server from 2000 to 2007 and we created protection groups in DPM to do incremental backups of mailboxes throughout the day. This setup was seamless and we prefer it to Backup Exec’s support of Exchange07. We have plans for the 2009 budget to implement a second DPM server and do site-to-site replication of data for offsite storage. And in the end, all of this has helped us also realize a 10% increase in the time our IT staff has for strategic projects, so we can advance the value we’re delivering to the business, not just maintain our operations.
We are looking forward to the future capabilities of DPM!