BGW Group

John Kenyon
IT Manager at BGW Group
«Moving to Bacula Enterprise and employing its VMware backup capabilities significantly reduced our backup window. In fact, using Bacula Enterprise meant that our backup window was cut by more than half»

The Challenge

Originally, the BGW Group of companies were just using customized scripts which incorporated utilities such as TAR and WinBackup for its backup and recovery requirements. As time passed, the BGW Group needed much more sophisticated backup and recovery capabilities and started looking at other solutions.

We found Bacula, initially the community version”, said John Kenyon, IT Manager at BGW Group. “It made more sense for us than other solutions, especially since it supported tape drives so well. We started to rely on Bacula, exploiting its enterprise capabilities and being very successful with it” said John.

As time went on and business progressed, BGW Group’s infrastructure evolved, for example with growing numbers of virtual machines. Its technical team decided to conduct a formal review of its backup and recovery requirements, both for the present and future. “Our selection criteria was based on a number of factors: we needed to have a centralized console for our multiple sites, and to be able to operate all backup and recovery from one platform and interface, bearing in mind that we also had a VSphere environment. Initially, we were fairly dependent on tape, but we knew that as time passed, we would steer more towards an all disk-based environment. Our software solution had to be perfectly flexible and inter-operable with tape, disk and any other potential media. We also needed to be able to perform Bare Metal Recovery, for both Windows and Linux” said John.

The Solution

We looked at vendors such as EMC, Commvault and Veeam. However, these solutions were far too expensive, especially considering that we expected our data volume to continue increasing. A lot of infrastructure here is virtualized, but some of the more VMware-orientated solutions couldn’t do tape backup and/or physical backup. We even considered hosted backup solutions, but in the end, we decided to keep it in-house” said John.

Quite a lot of our time was spent simply collecting quotes from vendors, because the products with licensing models charge for a core install, then a 20% support and maintenance, then they charge you by how much data you backup, plus additional module and plugin costs too. Sometimes, we got the feeling that these vendors were making up the prices on the spot! Regarding the commercial side of the discussions we had with Bacula Systems, it was refreshing to speak with a vendor that was straight forward and transparent with its terms and pricing! It was easy to get the pricing information from Bacula because of their simple subscription model. What you see is what you get – it works exactly as advertised!” said John.

In comparison to other solutions, it became clear that Bacula simply provided far more bang for the buck – it was much more cost effective. So after our evaluation was done, we made the decision to upgrade to Bacula Enterprise, which we have now used very successfully for the last several years” said John.

We took advantage of Bacula System’s Selective Migration Program, which is a special service that Bacula Systems provides to existing users of its open source solution, providing help to make the transition and migration smooth and painless. It includes a free day of consulting, review sessions, best practices, followed by a full review, all with a specific technical expert from Bacula Systems. Because of these services we were able to easily migrate our jobs over when we were ready. Another reason we decided on Bacula Enterprise was because we also needed really good technical support”, said John.

The Results

BGW Group back up a combination of Windows and Linux operating systems, hosted on both physical and virtual machines. ”Currently we have two main data centre sites, running over 150+ servers. We maintain two dedicated Bacula directors, with multiple storage daemon servers, and have transitioned to a disk-only backup environment said John.

BGW Group chose Bacula Enterprise because of its depth of features and abilities – one example being its cutting-edge tools for backup and file level restore of VMware. “Ninety five percent of our restore requests are about specific files, such as a simple spreadsheet, perhaps overwritten accidentally. It’s actually not that often that we need full server restores. Bacula nicely solved our specific need for single file recovery in a VSphere environment” said John. “We much prefer Bacula’s method of doing Single File Restore with VMware, because it is far more simple and quicker than having to “rehydrate” a VM, then bring the VM up, then having to copy the file across and so on. Instead, with Bacula Enterprise, we avoid that need for additional time and resources” said John.

Recently, Bacula’s Bare Metal Recovery also came in handy: we needed to implement a large number of new servers quickly, but we knew it would take us a lot of time to procure the hardware, provision it, install and configure, especially because the data center is about an hour’s flight from here. However, we retain a co-location data center where we rent the racks in one of our partner’s datacenters. For this specific need, it became apparent that it was easier to go to our partner to rent a hosted VMware environment. Although they provided us with tools to replicate selected VM’s over to their environment, then do a failover, it still required some complex procedures. So we instead just scheduled some downtime, and performed a backup with Bacula’s Bare Metal Recovery tools, then just booted the BMR Restore in their environment. We did that for fifteen servers. It was a fairly painless exercise, we saved a lot of time and it was much easier than using all the other products that we would have had to set up. So although the BMR tool is usually used and needed in a disaster recovery scenario, we also used it as a migration system!” explained John.

Another way Bacula Enterprise has helped the BGW Group was with reducing backup times. “At one point, we were backing up a Windows box from a remote office and due to the limited speed of the site’s network link, a full backup would take almost three and half days. So it was not possible to do the ‘Full backup on a weekend with Incrementals during the week’ model, because a Full would run over into the next week. To solve that issue with Bacula Enterprise, we used its Virtual Full setting. So we took the first Full and then did Incrementals during the week, then the Virtual Full feature consolidates all of the Incrementals into a new Full. It completely solved the problem.

It also got to a stage where our backup window was expanding well into normal working hours, as our infrastructure grew. Moving to Bacula Enterprise and employing its VMware backup capabilities significantly reduced our backup window. In fact, using Bacula Enterprise meant that our backup window was cut by more than half.

I have no hesitation recommending Bacula Enterprise, and Bacula Systems’ support team is great! We like the fact that we can use Bacula any way we want, and that it is able to adapt for our ongoing changes and needs” said John.


About BGW Group