The Communication and Information Center (kiz) is a central service provider for the University of Ulm, which was established to handle the planning, management, operation, and maintenance of the University’s IT resources, as well as to maintain a literature collection that supports the study, teaching, and research needs of the University community. kiz employs about 140 professionals, and also does the backup services for Constance University – and soon for Tuebingen University too. The IT department of all nine state Universities enjoy significant support from the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg which enables them to run state of the art technologies for maximum efficiency. Cross-site backup being one of them based on Baden-Württemberg extended LAN (BelWü).
kiz was previously using a competitors product, but wanted to implement a non lock-in strategy for a variety of reasons. It was specifically looking for a backup and restore vendor with a straightforward licensing model, which could easily scale up for doing large, multi-site backups without incurring extra cost, regardless of the data volume. The initial project – to provide data backup and restore for the University of Ulm – meant that over 13’000 users needed data security and backup services.
kiz found out about the University of Hannover’s success with Bacula Systems Enterprise Edition. When they contacted its IT team, the University of Hannover volunteered a glowing recommendation of Bacula Systems, and also explained that Bacula represented an opportunity to escape ‘vendor lock-in’. Therefore, kiz decided to go ahead with a proof of concept of Enterprise Edition.
“Bacula Systems not only gave us great, outstanding support during the proof of concept stage right up to the point where we signed up for an annual Subscription, but continued with the same high level of expert support right through the deployment phase – and it still continues today” said Thomas. “The ‘problem detected’ to ‘problem fixed’ time is just outstanding” he continued.
kiz’s IT environment consists of IBM tape libraries, with multiple 350TB of disk caches based on Oracle’s Solaris 11. They can host over 16 Petabytes of uncompressed data in the back end. Each of the clients are backed up daily, with the mail server – perhaps the most critical data source to protect – getting a lot of attention. “The Solaris based cluster does hourly ZFS snapshots, keeps daily ones for about three months and all the data is then sent to both Bacula and a DR-site located at the other end of the campus. Having almost lost all the data years ago, we became almost paranoid when it comes to data protection” Thomas explains.
“Our overall backup approach is mainly to do a stage-to-daily. Each client backs up to the mentioned disk storage, then we usually create a tape for the full backups. This really speeds up restores as people usually need to restore data which can still be served from disk” said Thomas.
As a result of the highly successful proof of concept with Bacula Enterprise, a decision to go ahead with deployment was taken in June of 2014, and production took place the following September. To date, all central servers have been migrated, with the vast majority of the work having been completed by just one person – and all that within just a four month time period!
“Bacula’s straightforward licensing model, where we are not charged by data volume, means that the licensing auditing is now much easier to handle. They know that costs from Bacula Systems will remain flat, regardless of how much our data volume grows or how often we need to replace our servers by more powerful ones” said Thomas. “That’s really liberating: thanks to Bacula Systems we are now free from concerns relative to Enterprise Edition, such as license auditing and increasing costs. Financial planning is so much easier” he added.
“We feel so reassured by Bacula Systems that we will now migrate everything else to Bacula Enterprise” said Thomas. “Bacula is working really well and glitches are fixed at an amazing speed. We will further streamline operations in the future. Bacula Systems is big enough to give consistent support, yet still feels small enough to get true quality support directly from its top experts” said Thomas.