Leading French dairy cooperative Maitres Laitiers du Cotentin (MLC) has deployed a combination of Quantum Corporation’s DXi deduplication appliances and Veeam software to meet the challenges of skyrocketing data growth and malware threats.

In proof of concept testing the DXi appliances provided over 300 percent better results for primary backups than competing systems or the backup software’s own deduplication—and production environment performance has exceeded what was achieved in MLC’s initial testing by its engineering team.

Deduplication is a process that eliminates redundant copies of data and reduces storage overhead. Deduplication is also known as intelligent compression or single-instance storage. Deduplication techniques ensure that only one unique instance of data is retained on storage media.

MLC is a premier French dairy cooperative with 820 local farms. Each year, it collects and processes more than 400 million liters of milk, and distributes products throughout France, the EU and China. A leading ultra-fresh milk supplier to the private-label market and food services, the company creates a wide range of products through its new brand “Campagne de France” which promotes the French Milk sector for production and transformation. MLC relies on robust data management and IT services to track inventory, monitor production and manage its complex business operations, including payroll, HR and the service activities of the subsidiaries for distribution.

Since 2010, approximately 98 percent of MLC’s 120-plus servers have been virtualized, a strategy with major implications for backup and data protection. Most backup was carried out by Veeam software, writing data direct to disk, with only a couple of physical servers protected by the company’s legacy backup application. As data volumes rose roughly 25percent annually, the systems began to fall behind. In addition, the coop’s team started to see ransomware attacks against MLC. While MLC’s backups protected them, the dairy decided it was time to upgrade their system.

Proof-of-concept testing

MLC wanted to remain with Veeam, which had held up well against the ransomware attacks. MLC’s engineering team decided that the best backup hardware approach was likely to be deduplication appliances. “We determined that using deduplication should let us store more data on less disk [space] so we could have a longer retention period, and we wanted it to allow us to replicate backup sets between data centers,” notes Emmanuel Moncuit, MLC’s system and network administrator.

The team found two Veeam-certified deduplication appliances offering that level of integration: Exagrid and Quantum DXi. “We heard lots of claims about what each would do, but decided that the only way for us to find out how the systems really worked with our data and networks was to set up a real-world test of the hardware,” says Moncuit.

The tests revealed several advantages that made the DXi system the clear winner, matching performance with a much smaller system. DXi deduplication results provided striking benefits, including size of units required and replication effectiveness. “For our remote site, the DXi required no physical appliance at all—we just used the local VMware environment and built the virtual appliance on it,” says Moncuit.

For deduplication, the DXis provided over 300 percent better results than the competition for the primary backup jobs. For replication, that advantage was magnified because the DXi system leveraged its global deduplication. When both units replicated new data from a 224-GB backup at one location to an appliance at the other, the competitive system sent 21.7 GB of data—a 10:1 reduction—while the DXi’s virtual appliance sent only 1.4 GB—a 159:1 deduplication rate.

“In our tests, the DXi replication started just after the first file was backed up without waiting for the end of the Veeam task, so our period of risk—the gap between when a backup is done and a copy is safely off site—was incredibly short, unlike the competitor’s solutions that started the replication only when the Veeam task was done,” adds Moncuit.

Superior production environment results

Based on the testing, the team installed the DXi units in the production environment and was pleased to discover that the results in the real environment were even better than they had hoped for. “Thanks to the combination of DXi appliances and Veeam software, we are backing up more data in less time, replicating backups over our existing WAN, able to restore files quickly, and have DR protection that safeguards our data from ransomware attacks, adds Moncuit.”

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