Charles Véret, system and network architect, VINCI Concessions SA, began using Bacula community version about ten years ago when he was working for another VINCI subsidiary, VINCI Construction.
“Our use of Bacula started when we had someone at one of our remote sites in Africa, which at the time was just using simple scripts to backup our server data to tape. One day we had a request from one of our local IT team to help it restore some of its data from 3 days earlier. So we asked that department for the tape with the correct date, intending to help them through the restore process. But in return, we were told ‘but I just use the same tape every day!’ We then made the decision to implement a company-wide backup policy in parallel with a comprehensive backup solution,” he said.
“The solution we were looking for needed to provide resilient and reliable backup that we could really trust. It needed to be able to check labels on the tape and be able to verify that the data that was on the tape correctly, and that the files were valid and 100% trustworthy,” he said. “I did some research and first found Amanda, which seemed to be old and not too easy to manage. Then I found Bacula community version and we had a lot of success using that. And when I moved from VINCI Construction to VINCI Concessions – both of which are within the VINCI Group – I naturally just implemented Bacula there too, because I knew how well it worked.“
“As our data center grew, liability was one of the main issues we needed to solve. The fact is, when you restore a file, you have to guarantee that what is restored is exactly what was previously backed up. So it was a priority to choose a reliable solution. We wanted to have best practices in place for example, so that employees could not accidentally erase tapes. We needed support for Windows platform, but that also runs on Linux, because that is our main OS,” he said.
“We also had a requirement to keep backups for a longer period of time. We also wanted to get quality technical support. Because of this, and other increasing demands on our data center, we reviewed other backup solutions. We asked some of the other subsidiaries of VINCI if they were happy with the backup solutions they were using, such as Veeam, Tivoli and Arcserve. The resounding answer was ‘no’ That gave me the conviction to continue with Bacula and upgrade to the Enterprise Edition, because I trusted it and knew how well all of its modules worked – I had never lost a backup or lost a file with Bacula,” he added. “It just simply works.”
VINCI Concessions switched to Bacula Enterprise Edition as its backup and recovery solution.
“When you use something for ten years and you get to know that there is a really good company behind it that gives great support, then it is not a difficult decision to make,” said Véret.
“We previously used to have tapes named “Monday, Tuesday, etc., and had just one week as a retention period. But with Bacula, we were easily able to move to extend our retention period. This was very reassuring to us – it was a great relief to have a backup solution that provided more tools that increased retention time and reliability,” he said.
It took VINCI Concessions just one day to upgrade to Bacula Enterprise Edition from Bacula Community version, using a second day just to double-check that everything was running smoothly.
“Then we deployed all of the new file daemons throughout our IT environment and that was it,” said Véret. “As a process, it was pretty simple and straightforward. We had a specialist from Bacula Systems help us, which was really effective in ensuring a problem-free deployment.“
“Manipulating tapes can be very costly, because of all the processes involved, such as someone to take care of the tape robots, changing tapes and externalizing them. We find it to be inefficient. So instead, we rely more on using high performance disks for performance and practicality reasons. We have a complex IT environment in terms of different applications, with many different Linux versions, different Windows versions and a variety of different databases such as Postgres, MySQL, MSSQL Oracle and MariaDB,” said Véret.
“Every time we needed it, we were always able to recover our data, thanks to Bacula,” he said.
But what about performance?
“We only do disk backup. We have two storage deamons on another physical site and we do backup copies from one site to another, and it is pretty fast. We use the best disks we can get, in an all-disk environment in our main IT department. But at our remote sites that still use tapes, for example, this data is also fast to restore. That’s because with Bacula Enterprise, all the tapes are indexed and you can go straight to the appropriate sector to restore only the data you need. So it is very quick, and that can be really useful in a critical situation. That is an advantage Bacula has over many other solutions that I have tested which run too slowly, especially on Linux,” said Véret.
“Our normal backup window is from 9pm to 10:30PM. Also once per week, we do full backups of each server. Virtual backup is a great feature of Bacula that I had never seen before and which has really helped us to avoid overloading some servers,” she said.
“Something else that Bacula has that I never saw on another backup solution is that, if you have a failed backup job for any reason, you can simply recall the command and restart that job from where it failed,” he said. “You know, when you have 2TB of data to backup and after 1.8TB of backup it fails for some reason, then with Bacula you do not have to start over. That is a life saver. Frankly, it is a feature that every backup solution should have.”
“Now we are looking to expand our data production volumes so we will likely need to start using Bacula to do progressive virtual backups because some servers here are big – and growing quickly! This rapidly increasing data volume will require increased sophistication levels of our backup strategy, but we are confident that Bacula has the tools and functionality to meet these advanced configurations and our other specialist needs in the future”, he said.
“We have wonderful support from Bacula Systems. We had very few problems with Bacula Enterprise and even when we did, any issues we had were always resolved within two or three days. That’s great. “If a system administrator has even a slight knowledge of Linux or Unix, then Bacula is well within their reach and presents them with the opportunity to do professional, enterprise-grade backups of all their data at an affordable cost. And with all of the global issues going on regarding cyber security and other risks to today’s IT departments, this is a critical need to companies,” he said.