Before I get started, I think it’s important to provide full discloser that although I am currently employed as Director of Product Managment for Continuity Solutions for a partner of Veeam, I would like to remind my readers this is blog is totally impartial to any technology discussed here in this forum. #

There are many backup vendors on the market and we could talk about them until we’re blue in the face. However, one comes to mind that is really taking the market by storm, that’s Veeam.

Since this is a blog that informs and not judges, I really try to keep it high level and focus on all the positive things about a particular technology.  So as I always try to do we will talk about Veeam in the context of user experience. In addition, Veeam’s technology is very complex so for those who are not technical folk, we will talk high level about this. Also, will break this up into a couple of articles focusing on different several areas of Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR).

What is Veeam Backup and Replication?

Established in 2006, Veeam’s Backup and Recovery is a market leading backup and disaster recovery software solution. In fact, according to Gartner Group, they are in a market leadership position as advertised in their annual 2017 magic quadrant.  Veeam is currently second only to Comvault. There are three main reasons for this.

First, Veeam has mastered data protection. They have produced a product that is designed to provide data protection to both Windows and Linux, physical computers or virtual machine (VMWare vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V). They have put a lot of engineering effort into ensuring they can provide data protection and very quick recovery for all major monolithic applications like Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, Sharepoint, Active Directory, and Oracle. In addition, you can restore directly to Microsoft Azure, AWS, and IBM clouds just to name a few. They also support Office 365 as many small businesses are using cloud bases services like Microsoft Exchange and for some reason, Microsoft does not provide data protection for these applications with their service. I guess that’s good for companies like Veeam.

So why is it so important to have proven integration with these technologies? Applications like Microsoft Dynamics, for example, a financial application that is SQL Server based, drives small businesses and must be protected. So VBR not only provides customers with a very easy to use and configure backup software but with application integration it makes it easy to perform a granular restore SQL Server data.

VBR is designed for small business, enterprises, and MSPs. How this is integrated with MSP’s (providing cloud backup services) will be discussed in a future article but for now, let’s assume local backup and restoration.

Second, Veeam’s primary focus was first on hypervisors like VMWare vSphere and Hyper-V. Since most applications are now running on virtual servers this was a no-brainer for Veeam. They saw this market of virtualization adaption coming, focused and capitalized on it. Ratmir Timashev and Andrei Baronov are visionaries this market.

Third, commitment to partners. Although they clearly could have developed sold directly, they directed their sales mostly though the channel and have developed the same model for MSP’s. Veeam could have had a compelling cloud service based on VBR but decided to enable their channel instead. This proved to be a very smart move on their part. This decision has lead to explosive revenue growth for the company to the order of over 600 million USD in 2016.

 

How does it work?

Users start by installing VBR on a Windows Server. It also installs a runtime version of SQL Server 2012 database where it stores its own configuration. Once installed, you simply create a “backup repository” that stores all your backups. This backup repository can be encrypted for regulated industries and also will provide deduplication also (more on deduplication in another article). Deduplication is just a process of making your data a lot smaller thus saving disk space, in this case, backup data. It also can save you money on needless purchases of more disk to store your backups.

You connect VBR to a physical Windows or Linux device (via agents) or a VMWare vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V virtual environment. Once this is done you create a backup job. This job can contain Windows or Linux devices (physical or virtual) that are to be protected. The backup job also contains rules for when a backup is performed and how long you want to retain the information.

Backup jobs then first create a full copy of these Windows and Linux devices with incremental changes after that. These retentions can be custom configured but in general, most organizations will want at least 1 full backup and 6 increments per week.

Restoration (The best part of VBR)

Setting up backup jobs are kind of boring regardless of what technology is used. The magic though is in the restore process and VBR provides a robust means of restoring information. First is what is called the instant recovery. Instant recovery is designed for virtual environments. It is the process of presenting protected device (workstation or server) to a hypervisor (virtual server host such as vSphere or Hyper-V). It then allows it to be started and used right out of the backup files. You can also migrate this device back to your production hypervisor while the device is running in the background.

Simply select a restore point and VBR takes care of the rest. Instant recovery is great for those who need that critical application operational very quickly.

Then there is full VM or physical restore. If your recovery time isn’t an issue, full recovery will bring back a full copy of the device but it takes longer. Typically this is good for those physical devices or older VM restores.

Finally, there is file and folder restoration. This would be the most common because of people corrupt or delete user files. These files can be restored directly to the target device with VBR.

Conclusion

VBR is very easy to install and configure. Backups are seamless and restore are very easy. However, VBR is very robust and has much more functionality that is directed to both enterprises and MSPs.  You can easily get overwhelmed with all the cool functionality when you only need a few basic functions. It’s reasonably priced with the best deals coming from service providers. So if you are an SMB, and you choose VBR; my advice to you is stick to the basics and you will be successful.

# Please note the author of this article is not employed or paid by any of the companies that are discussed on this blog. This is a non-partial blog dedicated to educating people on continuity related issues.

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