Today during Veeam’s “Next Big Thing” event they announced a new all-encompassing Availability Platform; by leveraging and adding new features already existing products (Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam Cloud Connect and Veeam ONE) along with tying in some newly announced products (Veeam Backup for Office 365, Veeam Availability Console), and adding in some new feature-packed versions of their products supporting physical systems (Veeam Agents for Linux/Windows) Veeam is set to deliver an all-encompassing product to customers of any size, small or enterprise, ensuring that all their data is protected and available no matter where it may reside.

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Although the event was entitled “Next Big Thing” it really should have been plural (Things) as a lot was announced, released, and talked about.  If we look at the above graphical representation of the platform we see a number of products that we may not recognize; ie The Veeam Availability Console, Veeam Availability Orchestrator, Veeam Agents???  You may not recognize these, some are new, some are re branded, let me try to summarize all the announcements as best I can…

Veeam Backup for Office 365

So this one isn’t even shown in the platform graphic but hey, no point in beating around the bush here – this is probably the announcement I’m most excited about.  As a customer I was ecstatic when Veeam announced their support for Microsoft Exchange – as an admin, I could now process my Exchange backups and perform granular restores right down to item level such as individual messages right back into my co-workers mailboxes!  It was awesome!  Then, something happened – the way organizations started thinking about delivering email changed – Being in education it was a pretty easy decision to simply move into Office 365 – the price was right 🙂  No longer do we have to maintain 7 or 8 servers just to run our email system – put it in the cloud, set it and forget it!  That said, being in the cloud is great and all – but when those high level executives accidentally delete that important email where do you think they will run to?  No matter what as IT we will still be the ones responsible, and in some cases, the ones who take the blame if we can’t restore something – it doesn’t matter that it’s in the cloud or its out of our hands – it’s an IT issue!

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That’s why when Veeam announced support today for Office 365 I immediately started perusing around looking for some sort of beta list!  Bringing the same functionality that they have for on premises exchange environments to Office 356 is awesome!  Want to use the explorers? Sure!  Need to restore individual emails/mailboxes/folders?  Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 is aimed to be released Q4 of this year, but here is the best part – if you are a Veeam Availability Suite customer or a Veeam Backup & Replication Enterprise Plus customer you can get your first three-year subscription to this product absolutely free.  For those running Enterprise or Standard don’t feel ignored – you can pick up a free 1 year subscription!

Veeam Availability Console

2 years ago at VeeamON we saw Veeam Endpoint Backup announced – a free product that we could use to back up our Windows endpoints.  There was always some “give” within the support for the product as the messaging was always “Backup your client endpoints AND those few SERVERS you have still running physical workloads”.  Although we initially saw some integration into Veeam Backup & Replication there was never really a true management interface to handle these backups or deploy configurations to endpoints we wanted to process.  This is where our Veeam Availability Console comes into play – think of this as, dare I say, the single pane of glass to manage your Veeam environment, both VBR jobs as well as jobs from the Veeam Agents for Windows and Linux- whether these workloads and backups are on-premises, or in the cloud!

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The Veeam Availability Console is a cloud-enabled platform, allowing both enterprises and service providers to streamline their Veeam deployments, and manage all of those remote environments, providing the framework for managing all licensed components of the Veeam Availability Platform.  Think of managing your physical and virtual backups, backups from VMs running in the cloud, and being able to restore these to your environment, or directly to an Azure instance!

As far as who this is targeted at service providers comes to mind – those Veeam Cloud Connect providers certainly can benefit from this!  But aside from the obvious Veeam is making this available to enterprise deployments as well.  For those with a lot of endpoints or a lot of distributed deployments of Veeam Backup & Replication this can be a great fit into their organization, providing that single place to go to manage all of you remote and branch office deployments, essentially making YOU a Veeam Cloud Connect provider for your business!  Veeam Availability Console is expected to be released Q1 2017!

Veeam Agent for Windows/Linux

Staying with the theme of physical support we saw the Veeam Endpoint Backup product get a face lift today as well – to keep up with its Linux counterpart, Veeam Endpoint Backup will now be known as Veeam Agent for Windows.  That said rebrand/renames, not to exciting – new features and subsequent versions are – so let’s talk about those!  Veeam Agent for Windows/Linux will now come packaged in three different versions – the free version as it stands today will remain their – always free, however Veeam has added a Workstation version along with a Server version to compliment the functionality provided.  Cleverly, Workstation will target those looking to back up, well, workstations and Server will support those looking to back up servers, adding certain features to the new versions to provide enterprise functionality into the products.  Think of things like Application Aware processing to get those consistent backups, transaction log processing to protect those physical SQL servers, Guest file indexing to provide a fast search capability for finding and restoring files.  These are the types of features that will now be available in either the Workstation or Server versions of the Veeam Agents.  Along with those features we also see a couple of new benefits in the newly released versions; the first being the Configuration and Management API – Veeam Agents licensed with Workstation or Server will now expose an API allowing customers to centrally deploy the products, complete with a backup job configured to their endpoints and servers. (Think management from the Availability Console here).  Also we see a backup cache – meaning, backups can be run and end users can stay protected even if their backup target or repository isn’t within reach.  Think of your CEO on a plane if you will, working on a very important (yet very boring) spreadsheet.  They make some changes and somehow end up losing the file – Veeam Agent for Windows could still process this backup from 15000 feet, just caching it locally on the workstation while the target was offline, and in turn moving it to the repository when it does become available.  Meaning we are protected even when we are remote!  A small but mighty feature that I’m sure will save a lot of headaches for a lot of IT admins.

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Also, as with any paid version of a product we now see complete enterprise technical support for the Veeam agents!  Veeam hasn’t forgotten about that Free product either – along with adding features to the Workstation and Server versions we see some new enhancements to the Free edition as well – Windows 2016 support, Direct restore to Azure, and Direct restore to Hyper-V just to name a few.  Veeam Agents will be licensed per agent, with an annual subscription model!  We can expect the Linux and Windows agent to be released in November and December of this year respectively!

Veeam Availability Orchestrator

Although Veeam Availability Orchestrator (VAO) has already been announced we’ve yet to see any sort of glimpse into what the product can do.  Today that all changed.  We saw how VAO can take those DR plans that we have in place and essentially test, execute, and maintain them for us.  VAO is truly a multi hyper-visor DR machine for your organization that provides a lot of features needed to be successful when you need to be the most.

Utilizing technologies such as vPower and SureBackup/SureReplica VAO can non disruptively test our disaster recovery plan and workflow – eliminating the need for time-consuming, expensive, manual processes and ensuring things will work just as you planned.

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In terms of documentation have you updated your DR plan every single time you add a new service or VM, do you ensure that all the steps are properly changed when you change something within your environment?  If you answered yes then I praise you but I know I surely have not – I’ll revisit it during that quarterly review time scheduled on my calendar and just hope nothing happens between now and then – not the best strategy!  VAO solves this issue by automatically producing DR documentation, dynamically and on the fly, ensuring you always have the most up to date documentation and are in complete compliance with your DR requirements when “push comes to shove”!  VAO, which will be licensed per VM with an annual subscription is targeted to hit the market sometime in Q1 2017 with a beta sometime next month.  Be the first to know here.

But what about the Veeam Availability Suite?

Oh yeah – less we forget these products!  Veeam has been slowly announcing features for their next release of their flagship software, Veeam Backup & Replication v9.5.  We have already been notified of integration into Nimble Arrays, Direct Restore to Azure, full Windows Server 2016 support and enhanced VMware vCloud Director integration but today Veeam announced perhaps some of the most interesting and exciting features to ship with version 9.5!

ReFS Integration for VBR – as we all know ReFS is Microsoft’s “next gen” file-system, with version 3.0 set to ship with Server 2016 when it’s released!  To be honest I’ve not done enough homework on ReFS to delve deep into details of how it works but what I do know is that it includes a number of automatic integrity checks and data scrubbing operations built into the filesystem, as well as some interesting features when it comes to failure and redundancy.  But, the feature most useful to Veeam customers will be based around how ReFS provides and allocate on write model for disk updates.  Think of your repositories here – when using NTFS as an underlying repository when creating a synthetic full, Veeam actually creates a new full backup file out of previous backup chains (full and incrementals) on disk without having to transfer production datastore data.  To do this, it needs space, it needs space to create a temporary full backup file and merge incrementals into it, almost duplicating the size on disk required.  ReFS handles this a bit differently – utilizing APIs provided by Microsoft, and integration into the filesystem provided by Veeam, Veeam is able to leverage ReFS in a way that i can move metadata pointers around, eliminating the need to actually duplicate data, both saving capacity and increasing performance DRAMATICALLY  when creating synthetic full backups.  Backup & Replication v9.5 introduces this technology as fast cloning!!!  And I know I’ve mentioned a Windows specific feature here, but since it’s a feature implemented on the repository, both Hyper-V and VMware customers will be able to take advantage of this!

Enterprise Scalability Enhancements – Many enhancements have been made to the VBR processing engine, providing even more backup and VM restore acceleration technologies helping you to get to that infamous low RTPO Veeam provides.

Veeam ONE charge back – Veeam ONE has always done a great job on reporting on resource consumption and capacity planning!  Now with 9.5 we will see charge back functionality built into the product!  The charge back will be available across all platforms Veeam ONE supports, bringing it to a Hyper-V, VMware, or vCloud Director environment near you!

v10 feature revealed – wait what!?!  We haven’t even seen v9.5 released yet!  Veeam seem to be starting to reveal more of a long-term strategy here!  Anyways, we have seen yet another storage integration provided by Veeam, this time in v10, and with IBM.  Tech previews of v10 will be available this coming May at VeeamON in New Orleans!

Release date – Perhaps the most important piece of information – VBR 9.5 will be here October 2016!!!  Be the first to know when it breaks into the market by signing up here.

Needless to say there were a lot of announcements today!  In the days to come I’m sure we will see more and more technical details around these products, how the work, how they will be priced and when they will come out – but for now if you want to see the announcements yourself I recommend taking a look at the Veeam blog!  Thanks for reading!