Veeam Backup and Replication v8 – What we know so far…

veeam-v8With Veeam hosting their first conference and the release of Veeam Backup and Replication v8 being set to be sometime within Q4 of this year one can only put two and two together to come to the conclusion that they have held onto some major announcements for VeeamON.  I could be wrong but the quietness and the little smiles coming from the Veeam employees around the Cosmopolitan this week lead me to believe there is something BIG in store for us shortly.   With that said Veeam has been slowly releasing some of the new features that will definiltly be included in v8 of their flagship Backup and Replication software and they should certainly not be ignored.  Let’s have a quick look at what we already know about…

Backup/Restore from NetApp Storage snapshots.

This one has been released for a while.  The same type of technology that was introduced for various flavors of HP arrays can now be applied to NetApp appliances running OnTap 8.1 or later.  This basically allows us to perform both our backups and restores from inside of Veeam but utilizing the SnapMirror and SnapVault technologies that NetApp provides.

Support for EMC Data Domain Boost

Integration between EMC’s Data Domain and Veeam v8 has been underway for a while, but will come to fruition in v8.  By allowing Veeam to leverage the Boost API’s, accessing the source side deduplication that Boost provides, we  can now ensure that we are not copying duplicate blocks across the complete Data Domain appliance, eliminating the need of laying those blocks down in the first place.  In the end we are left with some pretty good statistics surrounding speed and efficiency.  50% faster full backup performance and 2x faster backup transformation.  This is pretty awesome!   If you’ve ever watched a full backup transformation you will know why I think so!

Integration with Exagrid

This feature almost applies more to the Exagrid appliance then it does Veeam, as the technology lives on the Exagrid appliance.  Essentially, the core Veeam Data Mover functionality is placed directly on the Exagrid appliance, allowing us to free up those infrastructure resources that Veeam would have normally used.  From the Veeam end of things, we simply select to use a deduplication appliance as our backup repository and point it to our newly configured Exagrid appliance.  Exagrid, with the integrated Veeam Data Mover goes ahead and does all the processing for us.  I like this feature and I would love to see other arrays, especially those that focus on deduplication backup oriented appliances adopt!  I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this.

Veeam Explorer for SQL Server

Ah databases, the thorn in every administrators side!  None the less these databases are important and we need to be able to provide some pretty aggressive RPO and RTO around them.  The new Veeam Explorer for SQL Server will most definitely help in that realm.  Essentially it takes the same item-level restore technology that was brought to us in the Exchange Explorer, and applies to our databases, allowing us to restore individual databases back to our original, or a new server!  But wait!  There’s more!  I said RPO right!  Well, along with the nice restore functionality Veeam has added some pretty slick backup enhancements around SQL as well.  Think transaction log backups!  Basically, we now have a way to perform just transaction log backups without the need of taking a full backup every single time.  So essentially, we could take a daily image level backup of our SQL Server, and then set it to take agent-less transaction log backups every 15 minutes throughout the day, thus creating a nice little 15 minute RPO on the specified database!

Veeam Explorer for Active Directory

This one has been in beta for a while now so most of us have already had the chance to check it out.  Again, we get item level recovery of all our active directory objects, as well as the individual attributes and properties associated with those.  Aside from the item level restore the Veeam Explorer for Active Directory contains a couple nifty notable features.  One, this will restore passwords, both user and computer!  So if you’ve accidentally deleted a user and decide to restore that user, you no longer have to set an temporary password and have them go through the hardship (I know, end users right 😉 of changing it again.  Simply restore the user with the original password and your done.  The second notable is around what Veeam calls 1-click compare.  This allows us to quickly take an object within our Active Directory backup and quickly compare it’s properties and attributes to that of which is running production.  Being able to see the differences and changes is crucial in troubleshooting what may of happened or what the next steps will be.

Replication gets a face lift

Perhaps some of the biggest news thus far is how Veeam have accelerated and changed the way replication functions.  In v8, we can expect to see a new option to use our backup files as our replication source.  What this means is that we can simply point our replication job to our backup files, and replicate directly from the backup, eliminating the need to touch our production storage twice if we wanted to replicate and backup.  This is a functionality that competitors have had for a while, and it’s nice to see Veeam, the company that usually is one step ahead of everyone adopt it as well.

But in true Veeam fashion it doesn’t stop there.  We now can use Veeams built-in WAN Acceleration for our replication jobs as well, providing us with twice the performance than it did in v7.  We have the ability to ‘warm up’ the cache using backup files which might be located at the target, which in turn saves us bandwidth and greatly decreases the replication window size.

Another great feature included inside of v8 is around resuming that of a failed replica job.  In the past if a job had failed, we would need to re-run the job where it would basically start from scratch backing the complete VM up again.  In v8 we have the ability to resume from the last failed state – meaning if we had copied over 50GB of a 60GB VM before it failed, upon resume we would only need to copy that remaining 10GB.  Again, lowering our replication window.

Failover enhancements

When the rubber hits the road and it’s time to failover to a backup site you don’t want to have any uncertainty as to whether things are going to work.  Veeam recognized this and has implemented failover plans into the application.  Essentially we can set up one (or many) failover plans inside of Veeam to ensure that our environments are properly failed over when disaster hits.  These plans can be split up and delegated via roles and permissions allowing administrators to split the load and assign different areas of the failover plan to different people.  This is a must have in terms of DR.

Another feature added into v8 is the planned failover.  The planned failover essentially leverages replication to move VMs from one site to another.  Think of this in terms of disaster avoidance, or even datacenter migrations.

Encryption

We now can have piece of mind knowing that our Veeam backups are securely encrypted using AES 256-bit.  The new Veeam encryption can be applied to our data at the source, in flight, or at rest on our target storage.  Also note that if you are using the built-in Veeam WAN Acceleration that our compression and accelerating functionality as it normally would using a third party accelerator.   This doesn’t seem like a huge feature but is definitely a must have for those with strict security and compliance guidelines.

VeeamZip enhancements and the new QuickBackup

VeeamZip is a cool functionality which let’s us take a quick full backup of a VM.  I’ve used this numerous times when I need to archive or test certain functionality and want to have an “out” incase things go bad.  Apparently  many other Veeam customers have followed suit as Veeam has seen customers using VeeamZip in lieue of taking VMware snapshots.  Inside v8 we know have the ability to apply a retention policy to our VeeamZip backups allowing us to take that quick VeeamZip and have it autoremoved after x number of days.

As mentioned above VeeamZip is a FULL backup everytime – if we have very large VMs this could take quite a long time to complete.  To counter this Veeam has introduced QuickBackup.  When we perform a QuickBackup on a VM, Veeam basically polls our backup jobs to determine if we have any other backups of this VM.  If we do, Veeam then uses the latest restore point of that backup as the base, and then only backs up the delta as the QuickBackup.  This seems like some great functionality when we just want to get one quick backup of a VM without affecting our retention and restore points inside of production.

Let your end-users restore

As an administrator looking after my Veeam infrastructure I’m normally the “go to” guy when it comes to performing any type of restores.  I’ve always understood this, especially if this was going to be a full VM restore, but for things like restoring someones file from last week it just seems trivial to have me do it.  Well, in v8 I can take that responsibility off of my plate and provide my end-users with the Veeam Self Service File restore portal.   Essentially if you are a local administrator of the VM that you are trying to perform a file level restore on, you have the access to do so by simply launching the web portal.  Furthermore if you launch the portal from within the VM you are looking to restore to, it is intelligent enough to automatically import the restore points and present them to you.  Basically, you can perform file level restores to the VM within the VM without having any sort of interaction with the “go to” guy.  This is a win for everyone.

Backup I/O Control

This is a very cool feature that we can utilize to throttle our backup job resource usage in order to not affect production.  Basically, Backup I/O control will monitor our datastores before and during our backup jobs.  If a certain amount of latency is reached, Backup I/O control will halt or throttle Veeam operations in order to ensure that our production storage is not affected.  When the latency clears, backups begin flowing again.  This fits very well into the avialability message that Veeam is pushing.

Snapshot Hunter

We have all most likely experienced the issues of VMs requiring consolidation which sometimes get triggered by failed Veeam backup jobs.  The problem resides in VMware reporting back that snapshots have been removed when sometimes they aren’t, and what we are left with is something of a “phantom” snapshot.  A snapshot that exists on the datastore, is part of the VM, but is not reported inside of the VMs snapshot list.  Another issue spawns when we attempt to consolidate the snapshot and locks exist on the datastore files.  There is a lengthy list of things we need to do to resolve this and it’s not much fun at all!  Well, now we have something called Snapshot Hunter that will help us with this.  Snapshot Hunter can be triggered at the end of a backup/replication job and basically it will do the VMware snapshot consolidation for us, searching for those phantom snapshots and performing consolidations as per the VMware best practices.  If the files appear to be locked or Snapshot Hunter is unsuccessful in consolidating the files, no worries, a background process will be spawned and triggered to try again every few hours, ensuring we get that “always-on” experience.

So with nearly 2000 words I think I have captured everything that we know thus far about Veeam Backup and Replication v8.  Not that small paragraphs give these features justice, I’m sure I could and probably will do some deepdive posts around each and every one of these features.  And, as mentioned at the beginning of this post I think we are going to have another 200o words worth of features to talk about.  With the Tuesday keynote of VeeamON just an hour away I guess we will find out!