Getting Started with Veeam Backup & Replication v7

Come one, come all virtualization geeks, the latest installment of Veeam‘s excellent Backup & Replication suite has arrived.  As noted in lots of places, v7 boasts a boatload of new and new-to-them features that the community has been requesting for some time.  Among these are a few that I am quite excited about as they should in theory make my job as an admin easier; built in WAN acceleration, support for tape libraries, a vSphere Web Client Plugin, and the ability to create backup copy jobs to support your basic Grandfather-Father-Son backup strategy without external help. Among the biggies are:

  • Built in WAN acceleration * – will be great for me, I’ll only need to take one backup of each VM a night now (didn’t like the rsync or xcopy methods).
  • Ability to take backups from storage snapshots * (as long as you have HP Storage devices)- According to Veeam, should be high performance, capable of near continuous data protection without impacting production performance
  • Plugin for the vSphere Web Client * – manage Veeam directly from within the vSphere Web Client
  • Self Service Recovery * – Let them eat cake!
  • Tape Library Support – Straight to tape from Veeam as long as it can directly see it.  This has been requested for a while
  • Virtual Labs for Hyper-V – Us VMware guys don’t get to have all the fun now, you can now sandbox and test backups in Hyper-V now too.
  • Parallel Processing of VMs and disks within VMs
  • Backup Copy Jobs – Built in ability to create a Grandfather-Father-Son policy on per VM and per Job basis.

* These items require the new Enterprise Plus licensing level.  While Veeam is currently giving existing customers free upgrades from Enterprise to Enterprise Plus, understand that taking the upgrade will make your support contract cost more.

There are a great deal of other new features, for more please take a look at their what’s new in v7 document.

I’ve got it installed myself and so far I am impressed.  The installation went very smoothly both on Windows Server 2008 and 2012, with a minor hiccup with the Enterprise Manager required components install requiring a reboot midway, Veeam didn’t know how to handle that so I had to cancel install, reboot, and then begin again. Along the way I learned that the Search Server (capability to search within your backup files for a give guest file) has now been built into the Enterprise Manager component, which is nice, especially if you remember to turn on the guest file system indexing setting in your jobs. 🙂

So What’s Missing?

While I am extremely happy with the obvious work that the guys at Veeam have put into this release, there are still things I wish they would get around to.  I would love to see some kind of capability in regards to physical servers, even if it is nothing more than file synchronization jobs.  Many if not most of us systems guys who manage a virtualized environment still have at least a couple physical boxes around that for one reason or another can’t or won’t be virtualized. In my case this includes a system that houses a 69 GB flat file database that is slow when virtualized no matter what we do as well as an assortment of SOHO domain controller/ file servers that because of their size and the number of people they support it doesn’t make sense to pay to setup them up virtually.  The other alternative is to manage some kind of “other” backup facility for these servers, which makes it a bit of a pain.

Further I see that the delete restore points of no longer managed VMs is still just a number of days thing, rather than having the option to turn it completely off. At no point should any backup software remove data from a backup chain without the backup admin expressly requesting the process to happen.

So What’s Next?Veeam Backup Infrastructure DiagramBecause of the capabilities the WAN Accelerator and Backup Copy Jobs now give me, I’m taking a look at completely restructuring the way that I manage my backups.  After reading documentation and working it out for myself the data flow should look something like shown to the right.  If you see any holes in what I’ve done please feel free to comment or let me know in other ways.

I’m also going to soon be working on moving the test environment to production, with the most noticeable change being the move my production backup infrastructure from Windows Storage Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012 Standard.  Why you may ask?  Server 2012 now include the ability to do volume level deduplication, something that when paired with Veeam’s already built in deduplication process should equal some pretty serious disk real estate savings.  As a test launch I’ve setup dedupe on a VM and copied approximately 250 GB of backup files over to it.  The result afterwards is Windows saved me about 10%, less than Veeam is claiming, but better than nothing.  I think when I throw some of the bigger jobs at it I will see that percentage go up.  Veeam has a good article with video about the process and I’ll have a blog on how to get Server 2012 deduplication up either here or over on 4sysops soon.