When Brian Chan joined Jebsen Group, he saw an immediate issue.
The 125-year conglomerate did not have a groupwide disaster recovery plan, and its backup process was fragmented. Various businesses had deployed different backup solutions. It made backup and recovery overly complicated.
So, the information technology director of Jebsen Group decided to do something about it. “In short, we centralized IT, and backup was one of the key things that we centralized,” said Chan.
Becoming customer savvy
Chan was in a hurry to centralize because the Jebsen Group was looking to become data-centric. The conglomerate wanted to use its voluminous data to drive closer relationships with its customers and partners.
The Group was also shifting its business model. Previously, it focused on distribution. Now, it wanted to build a direct-to-consumer business. It meant the company was currently storing and managing more customer data, as it worked with different departments and third-party providers to analyze the data.
So, the conglomerate needed to become “more serious about backups as we are keeping more customer data. And we are not just keeping normal transaction data, but also customer behavior data in our systems,” said Chan.
The company did not have a groupwide backup strategy. It only had one for its ERP data. “Now we needed to make sure our CRM and our customer behavior data had to be backed up correctly,” Chan added.
So, Chan spent a year convincing his senior management to invest in proper disaster recovery and backup. He and his team evaluated options for a single system that offered both disaster recovery and backup on a single platform.
“And finally, we chose Veeam because they could handle our backup and replication and our disaster recovery. It simplified our install and testing process,” said Chan.
The COVID-19 impact
The decision could not have come sooner.
The pandemic saw Jebsen Group digitizing faster and embracing remote working. Like many companies, the conglomerate found itself in the frontlines of ransomware wars.
One such attack went through. But while the company survived the attack, it put the spotlight on having clean backup copies.
“It is really not possible to defend against all [ransomware],” said Chan.
Like its peers, the conglomerate did raise awareness with its employees. “Also, all our emails have a special label if they are from external. So, if people see an email from a managing director but it's labeled as an external email, they should be aware that the email is not an internal one,” said Chan.
Jebsen Group also employed a service provider to monitor the internal network 24 hours. If an abnormal alert is raised and found not to be a false positive, they will contact Chan and his team on possible actions.
Chan knew these measures were not enough. So, he focused on making their backup as the last line of defense.
Jebsen Group used Veeam Availability Suite and Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 to restore critical data with four hours. Previously, they could only do it within 24 hours. Backup times were cut by 50%, which added to cost and time savings.
The simplicity of the system allowed the conglomerate to backup every hour. The backup copies were continually tested for integrity.
This is how Veeam Software helped Jebsen Group to recover from the ransomware attack quickly.
“I did not want to depend on our backup log. Of course, we have an annual test for recovery, where we try to restore everything. But our team also do quarterly restore of sample data to give us an extra level of confidence,” said Chan.
Veeam Software gave Jebsen Group “a single source of truth.” “We have one version of data that we rely on,” said Chan.
He and his team went beyond reports to monitor the data usage through alerts or exceptions. This helped to streamline the number of data copies and avoid any “data linkage issues.”
The ease of use and the use of a single tool for backup and disaster recovery also reduced training matters. This had an intangible knock-on benefit in terms of support.
“Anyone in my infrastructure team should be able to assist another team. So, if Shanghai needed help, we can do it from Guangdong or Hong Kong. It was not possible before,” said Chan.
Chan is not stopping there. He is busy standardizing the APIs on their new Microsoft platform and using it as an API gateway.
“So that every external connection will go through [this platform], and we will only need one secure gateway to protect all our connections. But we are in the process of migrating all our existing APIs to this platform,” said Chan.
Image credit: iStockphoto/z_wei