VM specific backup solutions like Veeam are increasingly being used to protect virtualized environments instead of more traditional enterprise backup systems. They provide a seamless way to non-disruptively and efficiently backup virtual machine data plus they include a number of advanced features like change block tracking (CBT) of VMs, replication and the ability to perform recoveries directly off disk backup resources. Most disk based backup appliances, however, weren’t designed with these features in mind. As a result, organizations using Veeam may incur backup performance problems which could lead to extended backup and recovery windows and missed SLAs.
In recent years, there has been a lot of investment in backup software applications while disk backup hardware has remained relatively status quo. This is creating some functional gaps in terms of how well disk backup targets can ingest and process backup data streams that are being generated by virtual backup applications like Veeam.
Click to watch the on demand webinar "The five ways your Backup Design can Impact Virtualized Data Protection"
For example, in order to protect VM data without placing excess CPU overhead on the host, Veeam leverages change block tracking technology. This enables an organization to potentially generate several backups of a critical VM throughout the course of the day. While each individual VM backup may be relatively short in duration, backup servers now have to manage potentially dozens or even hundreds of VM backup events more frequently over the course of the business day. The challenge is these backup servers are often tuned to manage sequential backup I/O patterns but now, thanks to CBT, are being bombarded by highly randomized I/O that is actually more typical of production applications. The backup server then immediately moves the backups to the backup appliance, relaying the random I/O stream to those systems. And to make matters worse, some of these backup platforms natively run data deduplication processes on top of these incoming CBT data streams. As a result, you have the backup storage equivalent of the “I/O blender”, which can potentially result in extended backup windows.
Making Backup Production
Likewise from a recovery perspective, Veeam supports what is referred to as “recovery-in-place”. This means that backed up VM images and its associated data can now serve as a recovery mount point for failed VMs. This can potentially enable organizations to perform immediate recoveries following a failure and minimize downtime. But in order to properly function, recovery-in-place needs to take place on a disk tier that can provide good performance.
Many disk backup architectures utilize high density, low RPM drives with data deduplication to drive backup economies of scale. This typically didn’t have a big impact when these appliances were only being used to manage backup workloads. Recovery-in-place, however, changes this dynamic pretty dramatically by converting the backup storage area to a potential primary storage system during a failure event. For this reason, it is ideal if the backup appliance can provide a non-deduplicated disk storage tier which can facilitate both the fast ingestion of backup data, while also serving as an emergency “standby” to host recovery-in-place for failed VMs.
Sorting It All Out
Some other design considerations for Veeam backup environments include how to best implement data replication for efficient off-site copies of backup data. Most disk backup appliances provide data replication services but how do these systems interact with Veeam to make it “aware” of the data replication process? And many organizations still have a need to export data to tape to satisfy data governance and support long-term data retention policies. What is the best way to design deduplicated disk backups along with tape in a Veeam environment?
We answer these questions, as well as others, in our webinar, “The Five Ways Backup Design Can Impact Virtualized Data Protection”. This on demand webinar will help you determine the best way to design your backup environment to get the most out of your Veeam investment.
All viewers of this webinar will receive a copy of Storage Switzerland’s white paper, “How To Take Full Advantage of VM Specific Backup Applications“.