ITCentralStation- Veeam Review

I was recently contacted by ITCentralStation to review Veeam Backup and Replication. Here’s an excerpt:

“Valuable Features:

This is actually quite a hard choice to make when dealing with Veeam Backup & Replication. There are a number of great features such as WAN acceleration, deduplication & compression, replication and the grandfather-father-son backup tree. Not to mention backup to tape which has been a key reason to migrate to Veeam. The primary feature of most value to me is the SureBackup and SureReplica featureset. Having the ability to verify backups and replicas of critical servers in a sandboxed environment means that I can sleep comfortably at night knowing that the data is valid and I can confidently restore data and services if required by the business. Snapshot capabilities within NetApp would also be high on that list.”

The full review can be found here: http://www.itcentralstation.com/product_reviews/veeam-backup-review-by-derek-hennessy

 

vForum – Melbourne

Earlier this week I attended the VMware vForum roadshow as it came to Melbourne for the first time. As part of the 10 year anniversary of vForum in Australia VMware have decided to bring the show on the road and do a whistle stop tour in each of the state capitals. This is a great idea. Even if it’s only a one day event and not the two-day event that normally takes place in Sydney it’s still good to have easy access to the event. The last vForum I went to was 2 years ago working with a vendor so it’s a different experience being on the opposite side and also getting the time to take in as many of the sessions as I could. Maybe it’s more experience and better knowledge on my part but I felt that I got far more out of the sessions at this vForum that any other conference/roadshow I’ve attend.

The biggest announcements were tied to VMware’s bid for a Hybrid Cloud and device mobility with a focus on Airwatch by VMware.  Last week at vForum Sydney VMware announced that they were partnering with Telstra to deliver the first vCloud Air environment in Australia early next year. This week it was confirmed by Telstra that the datacenter is located in Clayton in Melbourne and that vCloud Air is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015. I attended a session by Telstra and it was interesting that they announced VBlock as their platform for vCloud Air. I know Telstra has a mixed environment and it’s not immensely surprised that VMware’s sister company EMC would the storage vendor of choice. Telstra also announced that their NextIP customers would not incur any extra costs for moving data in and out of the vCloud Air service. A bonus really for those clients. I’ll come to the configuration specifications of vCloud Air in a moment. As with all of these events there are some dud sessions but some that really open your eyes. Likewise with vendors. I had some really insightful chats with the guys from Veeam, PernixData and AirWatch. These 3 vendors are adding something new to data center or mobile technologies and are the ones that link into what I’m working on at the moment. The main take-aways for each of these were:

Airwatch
  • Corporate App Store
  • Control app and desktop access via policies
  • Don’t think of it from a technology perspective but from a use case perspective – this was constantly reiterated by Rob Roe of Airwatch
  • Allows single sign-on with SAMIL so that when you launch the app it logs in automatically
Pernix Data
  • Creates a flash cluster from locally installed cache to take the workload off of the storage
  • It uses flash for read write and provides flash resilience as data is copied between flash and later flushed to persistent storage
  • Great for exchange, SQL and oracle
  • Zettagrid have implemented it for their environment for exchange and have seen immense improvement.
  • VMware are also working with SanDisk on a something similar to this solution. Pernix Data’s argument is that they  are more evolved so will still be relevant

Veeam

  • Netapp snapshots run 18x times faster than commvault for full and 12x faster for incremental. No need to do full scans of volumes before hand like commvault does.
  • Agentless always awesome
  • Doesn’t have to present the snap back up to the hypervisor. Veeam manages it’s snapshots through CBT
  • Has new cloud connect platform to backup over wan to cloud. Within cloud you can deploy veeam and quickly and easily restore back.
  • Now has a free endpoint backup software for laptop backups to either local or remote backup. Swaps restores back to the end user. Currently free but is still fully supported with Veeam. Can also be used on physical servers. There is no central management console right now but most likely will be in the next year. Veeam have a history of making free editions of apps to bring in new customers

Before I get into vCloud Air one of the other sessions I went to was around the vRealize Suite which helped to clarify what they are trying to do in this space and what some of the new features are. VMware has essentially packaged all their peripheral software into on bundle which now provides massive value-add to the end user. You now have the choice to use VMware for the infrastructure, cloud, monitoring, BI, automation and virtual networking. They are going for the whole show. Some of the new features of Operations Manager (formerly vSOM) are:

  • Now can be clustered and scale on ops manager
  • No more appliance, just one box
  • Ops mgr will be released at the end of the year
  • Can now handle 64000 objects compared to the current 6000
  • Log insight is the splunk of VMware, not charged on a log data amount but on instance numbers
  • They took out the numbers in the status badges as it was too confusing.

vcloudAir

So vCloud Air. vCloud Air will utilise VMware vCloud Director to create multi-tenant environments with isolated resources. This will make it easier, and is VMware’s argument, to migrate to vCloud Air without having to change any configuration of the VM or the application, there’s no performance change on VMs when transferred to cloud. There’s also no need for the admins to learn new tools as vCloud Air is just an extension of their current VMWare environment. vCloud Air will run on ESXi just as your own production systems do. This is also where VMware differs from the other cloud providers. If you’re not running VMware then chances are you not going to be looking at vCloud Air as an option. As mentioned already it will be hosted by Telstra and it can be a dedicated cloud or virtual private cloud. There are also options to use just the Disaster Recovery option or just Desktop as a Service from vCloud Air. It runs on logically separated storage for the virtual private cloud. Everything is shared. If dedicated storage required a cross connect from Telstra colo required. vCloud Air will have 11 sites globally and will have HA built in. The migration options to vCloud Air are using OVF imports one at a time or offline transfer or to use vCloud connector to move VM or template one at a time, over https uploads via APIs.

You can get more information on vCloud Air from here:

www.vmware.com/go/vcloudair 

http://vCloud.vmware.com

To me vCloud Air is promising and is a good first step from VMware. I’ve been researching a few other potential Cloud solutions over the past few weeks and it fits into a potential use case for us. There are other possiblities such as just using Amazon or Azure, or even using NetApp Cloud OnTap in Amazon AWS or even other cloud providers such as AT&T, Telstra. And lets not forget Cisco InterCloud Fabric. I’ll try to review some of these in the coming weeks.
vForum to me was a success and I hope that VMware follow a similar formula next year and bring vForum to the masses.

Veeam Backup & Replication version 7

Veeam have been playing a bit of a teasing game with its customers over the past few months. It’s been an exciting game as month by month new features have been unveiled, whetting the appetite of Veeam fans everywhere as they eagerly awaited the next slice of awesomeness to be revealed. Each feature added to Veeams already extensive feature set. I will say up front that I’m biased here as I use Veeam quite a lot and have seen it mature from being the only option for SMBs to tickling the feet of Enterprise companies. As the months went by the features became more impressive, from integration directly to vSphere Web Client, to SureBackup for Hyper-V, to SureReplica in VMware to Native Tape Backup Support. Yes you read that correctly, Veeam now supports backup to tape. No more need for agents to backup to tape or having another backup product to archive your data to tape for off-site storage. This will all be taken care of within one console.

But even these features don’t match the two announcements back on the 16th May. Veeam has integrated with HP storage (LeftHand, 3Par, StoreVirtual VSA) to allow backup from Storage Snapshots, which greatly reduces the backup time, and a built-in WAN-Accelerator to increase the speed of off-site backups by up to 50%. These two features, with the WAN-Accelerator in particular, have pushed Veeam into the realm of truly viable Enterprise Backup Solutions.

So, I’ll give a run down of the features as they were released by Veeam.

  1. Enhanced Backup & Recovery for vCloud Director
  2. Plug-in for vSphere Web Client
  3. Veeam Explorer for MS Sharepoint
  4. Virtual Lab for Hyper-V
  5. Native Tape Support
  6. Enhanced 1-click Restore
  7. Virtual Lab for Replicas

 

Enhanced Backup & Recovery for vCloud Director

This feature extends Veeam Backup & Replication to allow Veeam to grow as it’s clients grow. As more and more focus is put on Private and Hybrid Clouds and enabling self-service IT we are seeing more clients begin to utilize vCloud Director. The enhancements allow Veeam to use the vCloud Director API to display the vCloud Director infrastructure directly in Backup & Replication. This allows the backup of vApps metadata and attributes, restore vApps and VMs directly to vCloud Director and support restore of fast-provisioned VMs

Plug-in for vSphere Web Client

The web client for vSphere released in 5.1 is being pushed heavily by VMware and it will gain more traction over time. The upside is that is allows for plug-ins from 3rd party apps. And Veeam have taken full advantage of that. The web client allows VMware and Veeam admins, usually one and the same person, to easily manager both their virtual infrastructure and virtual backups all from one console. There is no need to have to log into the Veeam console as well as your vSphere client separately. It’s all now in one easy to use console.  This is a feature that was requested from Veeam clients, and while the web client popularity has not gained too many followers, when it does Veeam will already be ahead of the game. Once again, as with all things Veeam, it’s easy to configure.

webclient

Veeam Explorer for MS Sharepoint

This is probably the one feature that I’ve been least interested in. Partly this is due to the fact that Veeam could already recover Sharepoint objects with relative ease. They have leveraged the highly successful Veeam Explorer for MS Exchange that quickly cracks open backup files to allow users to browse for emails and made a similar explorer for Sharepoint to quickly and easily allow the recovery of Sharepoint files. The ability for Veeam to open a compressed, deduplicated backup file through an explorer window is extremely impressive to watch. There is one drawback, it can’t do full site recovery. That I can assume will be in version 7.x or 8.

Virtual Lab for Hyper-V

Virtual Lab, or SureBackup as it’s also known, has been a solid feature of Veeam running on VMware for a few version now and it’s great to see that expand to Hyper-V. I’m not going to go into SureBackup and Virtual Labs too much, they’re a massively great topic on their own, but the fact that both VMware and Hyper-V can leverage the sandboxed VM restore feature of Veeam just goes to show how Hyper-V is maturing and deserves some attention from 3rd party software vendors. Veeam recently received a patent for its vPowerNFS software intelligence and has utilized that within Hyper-V to allow testing of VMs and also testing the validity and consistency of Veeam backups in a sandboxed environment, all running from backup storage. Genius!

VirtualLabs_thumb

Native Tape Support

I should not have been as excited as I was when I heard that native tape support was a new feature of Veeam version 7. It may not seem like such an advanced feature to most people that currently backup to tape but it’s been a bit of an Achilles heel for Veeam for a long time now. It’s always been an issue for customers that still trust tape for long term archiving to be able to easily backup their VMs in Veeam but then have to use another product to backup to tape. This normally involved having to pay more license fees for another product and any agents that were required. This massive pain point has finally been dealt with. Archive to tape in Veeam supports virtual tape libraries (VTLs), tape libraries and standalone drives. Basically, if the OS can detect the drive then Veeam can write to/from the device. The other great feature is that you can restore directly from tape back into Veeam without having to stage the data first.

Enhanced 1-click Restore

If I’m honest I didn’t necessarily see the value of this straight away. I quickly overlooked it as a new feature but on second viewing it’s an awesome little feature. 1-click restore uses the Enterprise Manager console, run on IIS, to allow end users to be able to restore files on a self-service basis, which is one of the tenets of the Private Cloud model. I think this will become a really useful feature for customers that really want to go toward the fully self-service IT model.

  • An easy interface for finding and quickly recovering individual VMs and guest files
  • Delegation settings that control exactly which VMs and guest files users can recover
  • The security of knowing you have the ability to authorize user access to only the items that are appropriate

Enhanced-1-Click-File-Restore-Blog-Post-jra-Rickatrn-FigA

 

Virtual Lab for Replicas

Virtual Labs has been around for a while now and is a staple for most Veeam deployments as it can automate the verification process on your backs so you can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that everything is consistent and that in the event of a failure you have backups which have been tested and are known to work. This has only been available for backups in the past. Now that Veeam is moving more toward a full DR solution as well it is necessary to provide a method to automatically test the consistency of replica VMs. This feature is only available currently with VMware but not doubt over time it will be made available to Hyper-V. This is something I’m definitely looking forward to getting my hands on as I already have clients request it.

Backups from Storage Snapshots:

Veeam has integrated with some variants of HP storage to allow Backup from Storage Snapshots which greatly reduces the overheads required to capture a snapshot by offloading all the heavy lifting to the storage array. This offload makes the snapshot capture up to 20x times faster than normal snapshotting technology and reduces the overhead on your production VMs by reducing the VM I/O requirement for creating a snapshot and minimize the impact on the VM and the host. This sort of feature has been available on enterprise-class backup solutions for a few years now but Veeam has added it to it’s arsenal for currently only HP based storage. They are working with other vendors so we can expect to see this expand over time. This new feature links in nicely with Veeam Explorer for SAN Snapshots released last year which allows you to crack open a SAN snapshot to easily recover data.

Built-in WAN Acceleration:

The WAN acceleration is a proprietary Veeam feature that was designed to push Veeam backup files to the cloud or to a hosted DR site. It works as a source-side deduplication device that ensures that any blocks that have been sent across the link already do not need to be sent over the wire again during backup. Veeam estimate that this will improve the performance of off-site data copy by up to 50x. This remains to be tested in the wild and it will be really interesting to see what sort of performance can be achieved with the WAN accelerator, but any way to increase the off-site data transfer speeds is a winner in my book. Even a 5x increase would be great.

wan_accelerator

All you need to get WAN acceleration in place is an accelerator configured on each side of the WAN link and away you go. Increased data transfer speeds in the usual Veeam keep-it-simple way.

So they are all the new Veeam version 7 features. It’s an absolute raft of features for a product that was already ahead of its competitors. This such as the Backup from Storage Snapshots, WAN acceleration, Virtual Lab for Replicas and Native Tape Support really lift Veeam to a new level and it will be really interesting to see how this new version works in the wild. I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty with it

Veeam Cloud Backup Edition

Veeam have released a new Cloud Backup & Replication edition recently that allows companies to upload their backups from local site to any of 19 different Cloud providers. As with all Veeam products the Cloud Edition is easy to use, powerful and affordable. It provides clients that have disk backups the opportunity to push the backup files to the cloud for long term storage. The configuration and set up is simple and quick and you can really begin to upload your backup files to AWS, Azure or Rackspace within 30 minutes. Easy! As this is the first iteration for Cloud Edition there are however some drawbacks to be aware of.

accounts

The primary setback is getting your data back out of the Cloud. Getting the data in is so easy it’s almost crazy. Getting access to your data in the Cloud however involves a few workarounds. We’ll take AWS as the example here. You cannot export files back out of AWS in any format other that OVF.  To be able to get access to your Veeam Backup data once it’s in the Cloud, essentially doing a restore in the Cloud, requires performing some steps to make it work. This is a long enough process at the moment and I can definitely see this being refined by Veeam over time. The first step you need to take is to deploy an EC2 instance in AWS and within that instance deploy Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition. You will also need an OVF conversion tool and some AWS tools, the ECC & ELB toolsets.

So the steps needed to upload are:

  • Create an EC2 instance in AWS running a Windows O/S
  • Install Veeam Backup and Replication
  • Create a S3 Bucket in AWS
  • Link your S3 Bucket in AWS to you local copy of Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition
  • Upload your backup files from your local site to the AWS S3 Bucket

Steps needed to retrieve your backup files from AWS are:

  • Log onto your EC2 instance running Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition
  • Add your repository from the S3 Bucket
  • Veeam Cloud will recognise there is a backup from another Veeam Backup and Replication Cloud Edition
  • Select Recover Another Computer
  • Synchronize the Repository tools
  • Import the VBK files to Veeam Backup & Replication from the repository
  • Restore your vbk files in their native VMDK format to a location on your EC2 instance, add a disk if necessary
  • restore vmdk
  • Convert your vmx file to ovf format – c:\temp\ovftool \<path>\my_vm.vmx \<path>\my_vapp.ovf

Next you need to import OVF files to an EC2 instance in the cloud.

Import using the following command –

ec2-import-instance DISK_IMAGE_FILENAME -t INSTANCETYPE -f FORMAT -a ARCHITECTURE-SYSTEM -b S3_BUCKET_NAME -o OWNER -w SECRETKEY

An example of this is:

C:\aws>ec2-import-instance c:\temp\ovf\Cloud_SRV02-disk1.vmdk -f VMDK -t t1.micro -a x86_64 -b veeamcloud -o AKIAJV4UGHUBMTYWUU5Q -w oVjR52YPAHRxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx3BcEwh5p –region ap-southeast-2

Legend:

-t                     Amazon Instance Types can be found here: http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/

-a                     Amazon Architecture Systems

i386                 Windows 32bit Operating Systems

X86_64            Windows 64bit Operating Systems

–region

Once this has been done you are almost there. You need to check the conversion process:

ec2-decribe-conversion-tasks <tasked> –region <region>

example for the above would be

 ect-describe-conversion-task import-i-fgisoqvn –region ap-southeast-2a

Once the conversion has taken place you will have a new EC2 instance of your virtual machine available

cloud-in-aws-post-conversion

And ta-da! Your Veeam Backup copy of your data is now available as an EC2 instance in the Cloud. As I mentioned already, it’s a bit of a work around but it’s definitely something that will be revised heavily in the next revision of Veeam Cloud Edition.

If you currently use Veeam Backup & Replication you may need to make some changes to get the most advantage out of Cloud Edition. Firstly, you will need to change your licensing model from perpetual license to subscription based licensing. This is the way Veeam will be licensing their products from now on so it’s not surprising that they have already begun to make this move. There will be an initial saving in licensing costs for the end-user so the subscription model is a good move for both Veeam and it’s customers.

Another issue you need to be aware of is the backup type you are using, whether that is forward-incremental or reverse-incremental. Forward-incremental is the best backup method for use with Veeam Cloud. So if you have your backups configured as reverse-incremental you may need to swap the backup method over to forward-incremental. The reason of this is the amount of data being transferred. Forward-incremental will only push your latest data changes up to the public cloud. Reverse-incremental by its very nature is essentially a full backup so each time you push the backup to the public cloud it will push a full backup. Depending on bandwidth and the size of your vbk files this may not be an issue, but for most end-users it could begin to use up unnecessary bandwidth. It is recommended to engage with a Veeam recommended solutions integrator to help with the design of the backups and replication with Cloud Edition.

One of the really nice features included with Veeam Cloud Edition is the integration of a Cloud Cost Calculator. This is something that is really useful for users to work out their general costs in advance without giving Cloud Edition a go first and then getting stumped with a hefty bill from their Cloud provider.

cost_estimates

The supported Hypervisor platforms are:

VMware vSphere 3.5 – 5.1

Microsoft HyperV: 2008 R2 & 2012

Licensing model: 

Veeam Cloud Edition is available as an annual subscription. The paid subscription includes the full functionality of Veeam Backup & Replication to backup your virtual environment, as well as new functionality that can copy backups to the cloud.

veeam comparison

Veeam Operations Manager Monitoring Pack Offer

Free Veeam Management Pack for System Center Operations Manager 2012

Veeam are currently offering a free 10-socket license of Veeam (nWorks) Management Pack for new Veeam MP users who are using System Center Operations Manager 2012. This fantastic offer allows customers to officially license and get maintenance support for up to 5 (2 socket) ESX hosts. This is a substantial offer for any small/medium sized business.

The Veeam Management Pack 10-Pack includes:

  • A free 10-socket license of the Veeam Management Pack for deep VMware monitoring in System Center 2012
  • One full year of maintenance and support

More information on the off can be found here. I would recommend anybody that has System Center Operations Manager 2012 in their environment to leverage the knowledge base already collected for System Center Operations Manager to monitor their VMware environment efficiently and effectively.

VeeamMP

Veeam Management Pack provides built-in intelligence to increase productivity and reduce the learning curve for front-line operations staff. It also delivers instant value with hundreds of out-of-the-box rules, monitors, topology diagrams and reports on VMware performance and events while lowering administration and deployment overhead through centralized management and configuration. The management pack includes enterprise-class features such as high-availability, load balancing and a distributed, scalable architecture. Veeam Management Pack leverages native vSphere APIs to gather its data.