California Dairies deploys Veeam to protect Microsoft 365 data and mitigate cyberattacks

California Dairies deploys Veeam to protect Microsoft 365 data and mitigate cyberattacks

When California Dairies Inc, the largest farmer-owned milk processing cooperative in California, needed to ensure Business Continuity through verified Disaster Recovery strategies it turned to Veeam. 

California Diaries Inc’s (CDI) family-owned member dairies are located throughout California’s rural landscape from San Diego County in the south to Sacramento County in the north. All dairies are within 100 miles of a CDI manufacturing facility, enabling fresh, raw milk to be transformed into a variety of quality dairy products within 24 hours of arrival. CDI has sales of more than US$4 billion annually across all 50 states and in more than 50 countries. 

Producing quality products doesn’t happen by chance. Each family farm is committed to producing safe, fresh and nutritious milk. More than 300 hardworking farm families are the backbone of CDI. 

“They’re also integral to everything we do as an organization, so protecting the data that helps us collect, market and process milk while providing services to our members is critically important,” said Matthew Prieto, Director of Infrastructure and Security at CDI. 

Like many manufacturing companies, CDI was an early adopter of virtualization. After determining that Symantec Backup, which backed up physical servers to tape, wasn’t suitable for virtual machines (VMs), CDI considered switching to a competitor but chose Veeam Availability Suite instead. 

“Veeam was the leading backup solution for virtualization, just like it is today,” Prieto said. “We’re very glad we chose Veeam because it has saved us from one IT headache after another. When stuff hits the fan, we know we can count on Veeam.”

The first time it hit the fan was when Microsoft Exchange email (on-premises) suddenly became unavailable. 

“It was on a Friday at 4pm and I was getting ready to leave on vacation, but our Exchange servers failed,” Prieto said. “I began troubleshooting the cause to no avail, so I contacted Microsoft, but they couldn’t determine the root cause quickly enough, and we needed to be up ASAP. I reached out to other experienced friends in the field, but they couldn’t determine the cause either. 

“My vacation was already postponed because it had been 36 hours, so with no resolution in sight and Monday morning fast approaching, I decided to put my faith in Veeam. I restored the entire Exchange environment from a backup – it was fast, incredibly easy and worked as expected. The entire Exchange environment was fully restored, all data was accounted for and users were unaware of how catastrophic it could have been. 

“Later when the opportunity arose to migrate our on-premises environment to the cloud, we didn’t think twice about deploying Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 because we knew how simple and reliable recovery could be. We also knew backup was our responsibility, not Microsoft’s.” 

Prieto said the second time stuff hit the fan was scarier. Custom-built software supporting milk payments to farmers had failed in the middle of the night.

“I can’t stress enough how important our farm families are to our organization,” Prieto said. “For five hours I tried to troubleshoot the software issue, but by early morning it was still unresolved. That’s when I began referring to Veeam as our emergency parachute. I yanked on the ripcord and said, ‘Let’s go Veeam. You’ve never failed us before, so don’t fail us now.’ And it didn’t. The entire system restore was quick and all systems were fully functional by sunrise.”

The solution

Veeam helps CDI maintain milk production and pay dairy farmers by protecting data used to collect, market and process milk. Veeam also ensures Business Continuity through verified Disaster Recovery (DR) strategies, fast-tracks data protection for multi-cloud ecosystems and offers additional ransomware resilience. 

“Veeam is our guarantee that data will be available when we need it,” Prieto said. “Veeam has our back – it’s absolutely core to Business Continuity, so as we move more backups to the cloud, Veeam has us covered.” 

Veeam backs up 72 TBs of data across 240 VMs to ExaGrid, which replicates to a DR site. CDI’s DR strategies include Veeam DataLabs to verify recovery of backups and replicas (SureBackup and SureReplica) and Instant VM Recovery to restore in minutes. In addition, Veeam creates immutable backups in Amazon S3 storage for additional ransomware protection. 

Veeam also backs up and protects 14 TBs of data in Microsoft 365 (OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams and Exchange) to an on-premises ExaGrid repository, which replicates to a DR site for additional protection. And, Veeam sends backup data to Microsoft Azure Blob Storage and Amazon S3, allowing for protection, security and resiliency of data in long-term, low-cost object storage.

“It’s so much easier to restore 365 data from a Veeam backup rather than risk our data not being available in Microsoft’s cloud,” Prieto said. “For example, if an employee deletes items before leaving the company, we might need access to those items later. Veeam makes it easy to find and restore them quickly.” 

Prieto said Veeam makes applying for cybersecurity insurance easy too. 

“Our insurance company loves knowing we use Veeam for data protection,” Prieto said. “When we first approached them and they asked us what we use for backup, we said Veeam. They said, ‘Oh yes, you’re in very good shape.’”

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