Following its divestiture from Walmart in early 2021, the supermarket chain has taken responsibility for protecting the large, virtualised infrastructure that underpins its business, and Veeam, a specialist in backup, recovery and data management solutions, has enabled it to do this without sending IT headcount soaring.
Asda’s business model relies heavily on digital services – from point-of-sale systems and scan-as-you-shop devices in its 660 stores, to e-commerce and inventory management systems that power its online offering and home delivery – supported by its data centres and 30 depots. Its high-volume, low-margin operation means that even a few hours of downtime could lead to millions of pounds in missed sales opportunities.
Previously, a large team from Walmart managed individual backup jobs for 40 of its sites. Asda’s move away from the retail giant meant that it had to take responsibility for protecting its more than 2,000 hosts and 3,000 VMware virtual machines. The company chose to see this as an opportunity to rearchitect its technology platforms to make them lean, agile and responsive to the future demands of the company, without raising costs.
With automation from Veeam Backup & Replication and central visibility from Veeam ONE, Veeam Availability Suite enables the company to deliver maximum protection for mission-critical systems and opens up the potential for a future move to Modern Data Protection in the cloud.
Dan Middleton, VP for the UK and Ireland at Veeam, said: “The scale of Asda’s operation means that even a short period of downtime or small volume of lost data could be devastating to its bottom line.
“To protect against cyberthreats such as ransomware, which impacted 76% of UKI businesses over the past year, it’s encouraging that Asda is using Veeam to create immutable backups, which prevent attackers from encrypting data after it has been written, and to identify failed or corrupted backups immediately.”
Asda is also using self-service workflows to empower users to restore individual files themselves, which puts it above 70% of European businesses that rely on manual steps to resume during business continuity and disaster recovery processes.
Mat Cox, senior server engineer at Asda, said: “Being able to see all our backups through a single pane of glass with Veeam is a big advantage.
“We can now configure, run and monitor backup jobs automatically, increasing data protection for Asda NewCo while keeping the IT team lean. Crucially, we think Veeam’s support for self-service restores could cut IT support requests by more than half.”
The Veeam solution currently backs up and replicates data between the company’s primary and secondary data centres, its head office and one of its depots. As Asda continues to deploy Veeam across its business, the company is confident that the solution offers the scalability and flexibility to support its long-term strategic goals.
Cox added: “For tier-one systems, our recovery point objective [RPO] is under 24 hours and our recovery time objective [RTO] is under 30 minutes. With Veeam, we can hit those objectives with ease. We recently tested our recovery capabilities, and it took us only 16 minutes to switch over to our secondary site with zero loss of data.
“We can also put powerful data restore capabilities in our employees’ hands, which could help us cut IT helpdesk request volumes by over 50% and keep our IT headcount lean. Without a doubt, Veeam will make it easy to scale our backup environment as our data volumes grow.”