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Okay, here's the situation: Your IT department is on the tail end of a long physical-to-virtual (P2V) server migration. At this point, you have three hardware Hyper-V hosts, and all your infrastructure servers are running as Hyper-V VMs.
Uh ... generally speaking, no. Especially when we consider factors such as:
- Mixture of Hyper-V and ESXi virtualization hosts
- Cloud-based storage with Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google Cloud
- On-premises SAN arrays
- Multiple physical sites
Veeam Software (pronounced VEEM and sometimes misspelled as Veem) recently released version 9 of their Backup & Replication Hyper-V and VMware disaster recovery solution. In today's article, I'll start with a brief overview of the product's core features as well as what's new in v9.
Next, we'll perform a basic run-through of how to use Veeam Backup & Replication. We'll finish up with some licensing details and resources for further exploration. Let's begin!
Core features ^
In enterprise data backup nomenclature, the recovery time objective (RTO) describes the time within which a company can restore availability after a disaster in order to maintain its SLAs. The recovery point objective (RPO) is the maximum accepted time period for which data can be lost during and after a disaster.
Veeam Software trademarked the metric RTPO, which is a portmanteau of RTO and RPO. Specifically, Veeam claims their Backup & Replication provides an RTPO of less than 15 minutes for all applications and data protected by the solution.
We can look at Veeam Backup & Recovery as a backup, recovery, and replication platform for Hyper-V as well as VMware virtual machines. Here are some additional details concerning those three cornerstones:
- Backup: Perform image-level VM backups to local and/or remote sites; no agent software required; SureBackup backup verification feature.
- Recovery: Recover entire VMs or even individual files from a VM image backup; use various Explorers to recover data granularly from Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server, Oracle Database, and other line-of-business data repositories.
- Replication: Create "hot standby" VM instances in your local datacenter, remote sites, or even in a cloud service provider's storage fabric; create failover and failback replica VMs automatically or with administrator assistance.
What's new in v9 ^
As I'm sure you know, virtual machines often consume enormous disk footprints. Where are you storing your virtual hard disks and associated configuration data? Veeam introduced a new storage-related feature called Scale-out Backup Repository in Backup & Replication v9. We can look at a Scale-out Backup Repository as a flexible container that consists of one or more local or remote backup repositories defined in the product. The idea is that the Scale-out Backup Repository aims to simplify storage management for your VM backups.
Another new feature of v9 is BitLooker. BitLooker (not to be confused with Microsoft BitLocker) is a proprietary data deduplication solution. By excluding deleted file blocks, swap files, hibernation files, and user-specified files and folders from your VM backup images, by definition, you're reducing your storage footprint.
Here's a quick punch list of some other new Backup & Replication features of v9. Please read Veeam's What's New in v9 whitepaper to get a full rundown:
- EMC VNX snapshot integration
- Backup from NetApp SnapMirror and SnapVault
- Direct access to NFS volumes
- Enhanced support for any vendor's deduplication appliance
- Object- or transaction-level restore with Veeam Explorers for Oracle, Active Directory, Exchange, SQL Server, and SharePoint
- Cloud service integration with Veeam Cloud Connect
Product setup overview ^
The best way to get a feel for how Veeam Backup & Replication v9 works is to download a free 30-day Enterprise Plus edition trial. The installer weighs in at 1.2 GB, and you'll also be given a tiny license file to activate the software.
Understand: Veeam Backup & Replication is actually a HUGE product with a staggering feature set. To that point, Veeam actually developed a Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE) certification, if you're interested. Today, I'll walk you through a basic product demo.
In a nutshell, standing up a VM backup infrastructure involves the following steps:
- Install a B&R server
- Add your VM hosts
- Define your backup repository(ies)
- Schedule backups
- Periodically verify restores
You can install the Backup Server role on any domain or workgroup server running Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 or later. The product isn't supported on Server Core, but you can use a Server Core box as a backup proxy. The proxy role is cool because it reduces the system impact on virtualization hosts that are actually being backed up.
Check out the formal system requirements at your leisure, but they aren't steep for this Windows-based SQL Server database-backed enterprise application. As you can see from the following screenshot, the Veeam Backup & Replication installer automatically can install any missing dependencies on your backup server.
The product installer automatically handles dependences for you.
With regard to the SQL Server database, you can either point the Veeam Backup & Replication installer at a full SQL Server instance or let the installer apply a SQL Server Express Edition instance.
Also, you'll need to have at least one copy of the Veeam Backup & Replication Console installed; this doesn't have to be on the backup server. Veeam's really considerate about firewall rules; you can customize the ports that the software uses for its services.
After installation, fire up the Backup & Replication console (which listens by default on TCP port 9392), log in as an administrator, switch to the Backup Infrastructure node, and finally navigate to the Server tab. Click Add Server and you'll be walked through the process of importing your Hyper-V and/or VMware vSphere/ESXi virtualization hosts into Veeam. You can see this interface in the next screenshot.
In the Hyper-V world, Veeam B&R supports System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) instances, Hyper-V clusters, and standalone Hyper-V servers. On the Backup Infrastructure node, click Backup Repositories, either to use the built-in local storage repository or define additional backup targets.
You can define a standard backup repository using any of the following targets:
- Microsoft Window server (CIFS)
- Linux server (NFS)
- Shared folder (CIFS)
- Deduplicating storage appliance (EMC Data Domain, ExaGrid, HP StoreOnce)
Now head over to the Backup & Replication node and click Backup Job to create and schedule your first VM backup job. Doing so involves the following steps:
- Naming the job.
- Selecting one or more VMs. Choose similar OS platforms to take advantage of BitLooker data deduplication.
- Letting Veeam choose a backup proxy (or you can nominate one yourself).
- Choosing a backup repository.
- Scheduling the job recurrence.
Selecting a backup job from the list gives you a lot of useful metadata. Check it out in the following screenshot:
Creating a replication job is basically the same. Here are the "big picture" steps:
- Naming the job.
- Choosing the VMs for which you need replica instances.
- Selecting a destination host or cluster.
- Choosing a backup repository.
- Selecting a source proxy and data transfer mode.
- Scheduling job recurrence.
Finally, performing a restore is equally intuitive. On the Home tab, select Restore to start the wizard. As you can see from the upcoming interface screenshot, you can (a) restore from a backup or an online replica; and (b) restore entire VMs, individual VM files, or individual guest OS files. Awesome!
Veeam Backup & Replication has tremendous restore options.
Let me tell you: Veeam Backup & Replication is a HUGE product. It even includes a fully documented PowerShell module (technically a snap-in). Open an elevated PowerShell console and run the following commands on your Veeam management host to see what's possible:
Add-PSSnapin -Name VeeamPSSnapIn
Get-Command -PSSnapin VeeamPSSnapIn
Edition and licensing details ^
Veeam Backup & Replication is part of the Veeam Availability Suite, but you can purchase Backup & Replication licenses separately. Veeam sells three variants of the product:
- Veeam Backup Free Edition: Allows you to back up individual VMs.
- Veeam Backup & Replication Standard: Enables full VM and file-level recovery.
- Veeam Backup & Replication Enterprise: Adds item-level recovery to the mix.
- Veeam Backup & Replication Enterprise Plus: Includes a self-service file restore portal for application owners.
For licensing details, in-person walkthroughs, and pricing quotes, you should contact Veeam in one of the following ways:
- Sales and support hotline: 1-800-691-1991
- E-mail: Sales.NA@veeam.com
- Inquiry Web form
For further learning ^
I'll leave you with a few hand-selected resources to help you deep-dive further into Veeam Backup & Replication.
- Documentation Library
- Veeam University Free Online Training
- Veeam Support Knowledge Base
- Veeam Community Forums