NAV­I­GAT­ING CHANGE

IKK GROUP FU­ELS AC­CEL­ER­ATED & COST- EF­FEC­TIVE EX­PAN­SION WITH VEEAM SOFT­WARE

Network Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

BUSI­NESS NEED

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 the 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,” says 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 fol­lowups 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 ex­plains. “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 the 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 per­socket 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,” adds 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

With Veeam, it isn’t just their so­lu­tions but also their 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 5 stars ser­vice most of the times; still we are ea­ger for bet­ter co­op­er­a­tion and suc­cess sto­ries with Veeam’s team in the fu­ture.” Ay­man Man­sour, IT In­fra­struc­ture De­part­ment Man­ager, Is­sam Khairy Kab­bani Group of Com­pa­nies

made pos­si­ble by Veeam ONE, which pro­vides the cen­tralised IT team with com­pre­hen­sive mon­i­tor­ing and an­a­lyt­ics for their 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 de­scribes how this fea­ture ‘saved the day’ when his com­pany’s por­tal (Mi­crosoft Share­point) ser­vice, failed. De­spite this be­ing al­most two ter­abytes 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 sig­nif­i­cant im­pact.

Sim­i­larly, a num­ber of sim­i­lar ser­vices for IKK Group com­pa­nies have been stream­lined thanks to Veeam, states Man­sour. “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 ex­peri

ence,” says Man­sour. “End users don’t re­alise things are hap­pen­ing, and their ex­pe­ri­ence re­mains seam­less,” he adds.

Equally ben­e­fi­cial has been the re­la­tion­ship that the IKK Group’s IT team shares with Veeam. From their very first en­gage­ment, the com­mit­ment and ex­per­tise of Veeam’s re­gional team was ev­i­dent to IKK Group’s cen­tralised IT team, who ap­pre­ci­ated their abil­ity to de­liver de­pend­able, 24/7 sup­port.

“With Veeam, it isn’t just their so­lu­tions but also their 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 stars ser­vice most of the times; still, we are ea­ger for bet­ter co­op­er­a­tion and suc­cess sto­ries with Veeam’s team in the fu­ture,” ex­plains Man­sour.

Given that the IT team was no longer spend­ing a lot of time ad­dress­ing is­sues or fol­low­ing up on sup­port tick­ets, Man­sour states that the ef­fi­ciency of his IT team has in­creased. Fur­ther to this, 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 the morn­ing, ev­ery light is green. So, you’re as­sured that back­ups are tak­ing place smoothly,” he says.

The IKK Group’s cen­tralised IT team have been quick to turn the new so­lu­tion fea­tures, and the rapid ac­cess to qual­ity sup­port and ex­per­tise they re­ceive 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 mal­ware, which are very sig­nif­i­cant threats to any busi­ness,” adds Man­sour.

Un­der the di­rec­tion of the Group’s chair­man Sheikh Has­san Al Kab­bani and the cor­po­rate man­age­ment, led by IKK groups’ CIO Mr Zo­hdi El-saadi, the cen­tralised IT team is cur­rently pre

par­ing an off-site 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,” says Man­sour.

On com­ple­tion of this pro­ject, the Group may ex­pand its off-site 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,” Ex­plains Man­sour.

BUSI­NESS BEN­E­FIT

Among the var­i­ous ben­e­fits was an in­crease in ef­fi­ciency, en­abling sys­tem en­gi­neers to fo­cus on high-value ini­tia­tives. By re­duc­ing backup and re­cov­ery process time, er­rors and is­sues, Veeam’s so­lu­tion al­lows the IKK Group’s IT team to in­vest ef­forts and time into en­hance­ment projects that de­liver sig­nif­i­cant 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 the 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.

By re­duc­ing backup and re­cov­ery process time, er­rors and is­sues, Veeam’s so­lu­tion al­lows the IKK Group’s IT team to in­vest ef­forts and time into en­hance­ment projects.

With Veeam, it isn’t just their so­lu­tions but also their sup­port - you get 24/ 7 sup­port for in­ci­dents when­ever needed.

Use of ma­chine learn­ing has helped im­prove the ac­cu­racy of tran­sit time pre­dic­tions by 74%. With Veeam, it isn’t just their so­lu­tions but also their sup­port that can boost cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion, says Man­sour.

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