HELUKABEL® is a German-based manufacturer and supplier of cables, wires, and accessories. A product portfolio of over 33,000 in-stock line items, along with custom cable solutions, allows the company to supply state-of-the-art connectivity systems for industrial, infrastructure, and office applications. Combining a vast array of products with a global footprint of 60 locations in 37 countries, makes HELUKABEL a reliable partner for its worldwide customers.
The IT staff at HELUKABEL GmbH in Germany had been backing up data to local disk storage, using Veeam. Due to the growing trend of ransomware and cyber-attacks, the company decided to look for a more secure backup storage solution that offered better data protection. HELUKABEL’s IT vendor recommended looking into ExaGrid due to its unique two-tiered architecture. “The fact that ExaGrid’s Retention Tier is separate from its Landing Zone, so that malware can’t access the Retention Tier, was key to our decision to install ExaGrid. We felt that ExaGrid’s architecture would prevent our backups from becoming encrypted,” said Marco Aresu, Team Lead of IT Infrastructure at HELUKABEL. “We also wanted our backups to be faster and our older servers had used a 1GbE connection, while ExaGrid connects with a 10GbE connection, so we knew that would greatly improve backup performance.”
ExaGrid appliances have a network-facing disk-cache Landing Zone Tier where the most recent backups are stored in an undeduplicated format, for fast backup and restore performance. Data is deduplicated into a non-network-facing tier called the Repository Tier where deduplicated data is stored for longer-term retention. The combination of a non-network-facing tier (tiered air gap) plus delayed deletes with ExaGrid’s Retention Time-Lock feature, and immutable data objects, guards against the backup data being deleted or encrypted.
Aresu appreciates working with his assigned ExaGrid support engineer. “During installation, our ExaGrid support engineer trained us on administration and helped to set up our backup schedules. He has helped us with firmware updates to our ExaGrid system and when we installed ExaGrid Software Version 6.0, he explained ExaGrid’s Retention Time-Lock for Ransomware Recovery feature in depth, which we plan to keep activated, and also the went through the updates to the system’s UI. The installation and updates went perfectly with his help, and I would give him an A+ for customer support,” said Aresu. “The ExaGrid system itself just runs by itself, so we can almost forget it. We do look for alerts but never find any issues. If anyone is looking for a new backup solution, I highly recommend an ExaGrid system because it’s so easy to install and operate.”
The ExaGrid system was designed to be easy to set up and operate. ExaGrid’s industry-leading level 2 senior support engineers are assigned to individual customers, ensuring they always work with the same engineer. Customer’s never have to repeat themselves to various support staff, and issues get resolved quickly.
"The fact that ExaGrid’s Retention Tier is separate from its Landing Zone, so that malware can’t access the Retention Tier, was key to our decision to install ExaGrid. "
Aresu backs up HELUKABEL’s data in daily incrementals and weekly fulls, with monthly and yearly fulls for critical systems. Most of the data backed up consists of VMs as well as Microsoft SQL and SAP HANA databases. Since installation of the ExaGrid Tiered Backup Storage system, Aresu has found that backups are now ten times faster, due to the greater bandwidth connection and since data is backed up directly to ExaGrid’s Landing Zone Tier. He has also found that ExaGrid integrates easily with Veeam, especially the Veeam Data Mover feature, which results in faster synthetic full backups.
ExaGrid has integrated the Veeam Data Mover so that backups are written Veeam-to-Veeam versus Veeam-to-CIFS, which provides a 30% increase in backup performance. Since the Veeam Data Mover is not an open standard, it is far more secure than using CIFS and other open market protocols. In addition, because ExaGrid has integrated the Veeam Data Mover, Veeam synthetic fulls can be created six times faster than any other solution. ExaGrid stores the most recent Veeam backups in an undeduplicated form in its Landing Zone and has the Veeam Data Mover running on each ExaGrid appliance and has a processor in each appliance in a scale-out architecture. This combination of Landing Zone, Veeam Data Mover, and scale-out compute provides the fastest Veeam synthetic fulls versus any other solution on the market.
Aresu has also been pleased at quickly data can be restored using the combined solution of ExaGrid and Veeam. “I had to restore one of our systems, a 2TB VM, and it was very fast. Even with some post-restore work, the system was back online 45 minutes,” he said.
ExaGrid writes backups directly to a disk-cache Landing Zone, avoiding inline processing and ensuring the highest possible backup performance, which results in the shortest backup window. Adaptive Deduplication performs deduplication and replication in parallel with backups for a strong recovery point (RPO). As data is being deduplicated to the repository, it can also be replicated to a second ExaGrid site or the public cloud for disaster recovery (DR).
One of the benefits that ExaGrid provided to HELUKABEL’s backup environment was adding data deduplication, which saves on storage capacity. “We had experienced some issues with trying to set deduplication and compression when we backed up to local disk storage, but since installing ExaGrid we have been able to benefit from the deduplication it provides,” said Aresu. Since deduplication has been enabled, HELUKABEL has been able to increase retention to a grandfather-father-son method, which had not been possible when backing up to the local disk due to storage issues.
Veeam uses the information from VMware and Hyper-V and provides deduplication on a “per- job” basis, finding the matching areas of all the virtual disks within a backup job and using metadata to reduce the overall footprint of the backup data. Veeam also has a “dedupe friendly” compression setting which further reduces the size of the Veeam backups in a way that allows the ExaGrid system to achieve further deduplication. This approach typically achieves a 2:1 deduplication ratio. Veeam uses changed block tracking to perform a level of data deduplication. ExaGrid allows Veeam deduplication and Veeam dedupe-friendly compression to stay on. ExaGrid will increase Veeam’s deduplication by a factor of about 7:1 to a total combined deduplication ratio of 14:1, reducing the storage required and saving on storage costs up front and over time.
Veeam’s backup solutions and ExaGrid’s Tiered Backup Storage combine for the industry’s fastest backups, fastest restores, a scale-out storage system as data grows, and a strong ransomware recovery story – all at the lowest cost.