The Issam Khairy Kabbani Group of Companies (IKK Group) was established nearly half a century ago. Starting operations in its native Saudi Arabia in the 1970s, the group has expanded in scope and geography to serve a host of industries, including trading and manufacturing and specialised contracting services for the diversified construction sectors.
Today, some 14,000 staff work in 42 independent IKK companies, spread over many divisions, branches and outlets in more than ten countries. The group’s showrooms, sales offices, factories and R&D offices can be found across the MENA region.
With lack of prompt support, rising errors and system incidents, the IKK Group’s legacy backup solution presented a significant business risk. The incumbent vendor’s poor support framework translated to a lengthy resolution process for the frequent issues that the IKK Group’s IT team faced operating the legacy system. Being responsible for the availability of data and services to a huge number of remote and local sites, the centralised IT team needed a long-term technology partner that could offer drastically better solutions and support when needed.
• Increased system engineers’ efficiency, enabling them to focus on enhancements and improvements (like security hardening and storage utilisation)
• Introduced instant recovery (reduce restore time from days to few hours in some cases)
• Proved 30% more cost-effective than legacy solution (at time of system switching)
The business challenge
The IKK Group operates a centralised IT department that oversees technology services for all IKK lines of business. One of the key concerns of this central IT team is to guarantee uptime of services for all users and customers.
“If our data is compromised, or if our services are unavailable, a tremendous number of users and end customers are impacted,” said Ayman Mansour, IT Infrastructure Department Manager, IKK Group. “Service downtime translates to a direct loss of productivity and business.”
With so much at stake, Mansour and his team knew that the IKK Group’s legacy backup solution presented a significant business risk. The solution would frequently throw up errors during the backup process. Due to the vendor’s lack of local support, attempting to resolve these issues inevitably translated to lengthy interactions and follow-ups with channel partners, which introduced complexity and waste of valuable time. Given the group’s rapidly scaling geographical footprint, 24/7 regional support was no longer optional.
“Besides a solution that could meet our technical requirements, we needed better support and communications from the vendor itself,” Mansour explained. “Going through partners and facing long delays was no longer viable for us. It was time for a change.”
The Veeam solution
After careful market analysis, the IKK Group selected Veeam Availability Suite to address the technology and support shortcomings it was facing.
An instant appeal in the evaluation process was Veeam’s innovative licensing model. “Instead of basing fees on terabytes, Veeam pioneered the per-socket licensing model. The per-socket costs only grow as your environment grows, not as your storage grows and so, we found this far more cost-effective in the long run,” explained Mansour. With the IKK Group’s environment expanding as its business grows, Veeam’s licensing model has proved to be 30% more cost-effective than the previous solution.
Further resources savings have been made possible by Veeam ONE, which provides the centralised IT team with comprehensive monitoring and analytics for its virtual and physical environments. This has enabled them to optimise resource planning and maximise utilisations of existing investments as they scale their IT infrastructure.
Highlighting the value of Veeam’s Instant VM Recovery, Mansour described how this feature ‘saved the day’ when his company’s portal (Microsoft SharePoint) service, failed. Despite this being almost two terabytes (TB) in database size, the team could restore the portal service shortly because Veeam’s solution enabled them to load an image while the full restore proceeded smoothly in the background. As a result, users were barely aware of any issue and could carry out all functions without major impact.
Similarly, most similar services for IKK Group companies, has been streamlined thanks to Veeam. “Whereas our old solution took days to restore data and demanded considerable time and effort from our IT team to address errors, Veeam’s has transformed this experience,” said Mansour. “End users don’t realise things are happening and their experience remains seamless.”
Equally beneficial has been the relationship that the IKK Group’s IT team shares with Veeam. From its very first engagement, the commitment and expertise of Veeam’s regional team was evident to IKK Group’s centralised IT team, which appreciated its ability to deliver dependable, 24/7 support. “With Veeam, it isn’t just its solutions but also its support that can boost customer satisfaction – you get 24/7 support for incidents whenever needed. If we had to rate Veeam’s regional support, that would be a five star service most of the time; still we are eager for better co-operation and success stories with Veeam’s team in the future,” Mansour said.
Given that they no longer spend long times addressing issues or following up on support tickets, Mansour states that the efficiency of his IT team has ‘increased’. Systems admins have seen an ‘improvement’ in their ability to deliver Business Continuity and availability of services and annual data restoration downtimes have dropped. “The beauty of Veeam is that when you come in in the morning, every light is green. So, you’re assured that backups are taking place smoothly,” he said.
The IKK Group’s centralised IT team has been quick to turn the new solution features, and the rapid access to quality support and expertise it receives from Veeam, into an opportunity to focus on initiatives and enhancements that deliver business values. One such avenue has been the strengthening of data and storage security. “Veeam is working with us to implement best practices and enhanced features for data protection. This will enable us to greatly strengthen our resilience to possible malwares, which are very significant threats to any business,” explained Mansour.
Under direction of the group’s chairman, Sheikh Hassan Al Kabbani, and the corporate management, leaded by IKK group’s CIO, Mr Zohdi El-Saadi, the centralised IT team is currently preparing an offsite backup centre. During the transition, the group has been utilising (as a pilot phase) cloud storage option to manage data migration through the cloud. “Veeam’s compatibility with the offerings from major cloud vendors has meant that integration is seamless, allowing a rapid and effective data migration,” said Mansour.
On completion of this project, the group may expand its offsite backup facility into a partial Disaster Recovery (DR) site based on management needs and decision. “Today, Veeam is one of the pillars of our service availability and Business Continuity strategy. If the corporate management decides to establish a DR site, we shall use it an opportunity to extend our relationship with this reliable technology provider,” said Mansour.
Increased efficiency, enabling the system engineers to focus on high-value initiatives
By reducing backup and recovery process time, errors and issues, Veeam’s solution enables the IKK Group’s IT team invest efforts and time into enhancement projects that deliver major business benefits. This includes implementing production and backup data security best practices and access control strengthening to mitigate the threat of malware and cyber-risks.
Introduced instant recovery and cut restore times
Recovery of large terabyte (TB) sized VM servers in short time is now possible, services are restored in minutes as backup images can be instantly loaded while the full restore smoothly executes in the background. This delivers a seamless experience for thousands of users, across the group’s entities, who rely on the availability of data and services to carry out their job functions.
Proved 30% more cost effective than legacy solution
Instead of basing fees on TB, Veeam pioneered the per-socket licensing model in which costs only grow as the IT environment grows. With the IKK Group’s environment expanding as its business grows, Veeam’s licensing model has proved to be 30% more cost-effective than the previous solution.