Briefing Note: For Veeam it’s about more than Backup, it’s about Availability

Data protection is about much more than the successful completion of backup jobs. While the backup part of the process has value, its role has shifted to providing point-in-time versions of data instead of being the primary point of recovery. As a result, data centers have moved on to techniques like snapshots and replication to provide more frequent protection points and more rapid recovery. The problem is that these processes are often separate. In Veeam Backup & Replication™ v8 they are unified.

The New Normal – Backup Becomes Availability

The modern data center requires very strict recovery point and recovery time objectives for many of its applications, in some cases less than 15 minutes. The data center also now requires the frequent testing of all protected copies to ensure that in case of a disaster all the data be recovered, and it will happen in a timely manner. Testing also includes patch and upgrade verification in an isolated environment. With Veeam Backup & Replication v8, the company has shifted its focus to availability, not just data protection, and now strives to meet all of the above demands of the modern data center.

The modern data center also needs a couple of capabilities it may not be aware of. First, in the “agile” data center visibility into the virtual infrastructure and the ability to map that against the data protection plan is critical. Virtual machines (VM) can come and go without notice, visibility is essential to making sure everything is protected. Second, the modern data center needs to begin the move to a policy based protection strategy. You don’t need to know about every job that fails, just the ones that will jeopardize the achievement of data protection objectives.

Replication and Backups Together at Last

While an increasing number of data protection vendors provide backup and replication capabilities, they are usually delivered as separate products. If they are included as the same product they’re usually two separate processes to be scheduled, executed and monitored. Veeam Backup and Replication v8 unifies both processes leveraging the same VM snapshot so that the VM only has to be “stunned” one time.

RPO/RTO Attainment

In Veeam Backup & Replication v8, replicas can be created from the backup and positioned on a target server or storage device, ready for immediate start up. This capability addresses both the reduced RPO and RTO of an application. Using the same process enables more frequent data copies and positioning replicas allows for more rapid recovery.

Testing Recovery and Patches

To test the quality of the data being protected Veeam provides it’s well-known Instant VM Recovery Capability. And, its ability to create an isolated virtual lab allows for the testing of patches and upgrades as well as the recovery of VMs that don’t have the strict sub-15 minute RPO/RTO requirement.

Visibility

Another requirement is the need to “see” the environment. This is especially important in the modern data center where new servers are virtual and can be brought up without the backup administrator even noticing. The Veeam Availability Suite™ v8 now provides this visibility by collecting data from the virtual infrastructure and connecting it to the backup infrastructure so that administrators can be certain that all VMs are being protected.

Policy Driven Backup

Storage Switzerland is a proponent of policy driven data protection processes. You can read about our SLO Driven Data Protection Designs here and here. While most vendors say they are policy driven as well they provide few vehicles to implement them. A policy driven backup would group VM protection by RTO or RPO requirements instead of just assigning a job. Veeam now supports vSphere’s tagging capabilities. As Veeam’s Luca Dell’Oca describes in this excellent blog, this support allows you to create a policy based data protection strategy instead of a job based one. There is certainly more work to be done, but this is one of the best efforts we have seen to date.

StorageSwiss Take

While legacy backup solutions seem to be in retreat, Veeam is marching full steam ahead with a rapidly growing install base and almost fanatical customers. They’ve accomplished this by focusing on virtualization and exploiting the capabilities of that environment to its fullest extent. Veeam Backup and Replication v8 ups the ante once again. And as a result, Veeam continues to deserve strong consideration as an overall data protection solution and the bar by which all other virtualization backup solutions are measured.

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Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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