Review: Veeam Backup and Replication Cloud Edition v7
Even as analysts and pundits bat around fancy new terms like “software-defined”, “hyperconverged”, and “big data”, CIOs and those responsible for data stewardship continue to be faced with ongoing challenges related to how to best protect the information assets of an organization. Even while whiz-bang new technologies offer the promise of massive increases in storage performance and capacity, backup and disaster recovery professionals struggle with the ongoing deluge and growth of these information assets. At the same time, organizations’ risk tolerance with regard to information assets is plummeting as more and more leaders understand that time is money when it comes to the availability of information systems.
It Was Already Tough!
Let’s face it: Backup and recovery are far from “sexy” when it comes to some of the other exciting things happening in the world of technology. However, while it may not have been the favored child, backup and recovery are among the most important tasks that an IT department performs and are a major aspect of an organization’s risk management posture. This has always been the case.
But, today, with demand for 24×7 IT increasing, even for 8×5 organizations, IT departments are being forced to find new ways to better protect these critical information assets and are looking for ways to ensure solutions across the data protection spectrum, which includes storing data off-site for disaster recovery purposes.
Veeam Brings Simplicity to Backup & Recovery in Virtual Environments
Since 2008, Veeam has been bringing backup and recovery goodness to virtual environments. To many, Veeam is considered the front-runner in the quest to protect virtual environments. With the product’s reasonable pricing and increasing feature set that comes with each new release, it’s no wonder that Veeam continues to enjoy massive year over year growth as a company.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of simplicity. I’m not lazy, but I like to have the ability to focus on tasks that are bottom line driven and not ones that contribute to the perception of IT as a cost center. While backup, recovery, and disaster recovery are certainly vital tasks, it’s tough to make a direct link between these services and the company’s bottom line… until disaster strikes that is. When that happens, the cost for these services is quickly viewed as an investment as the organization realizes just how quickly they were able to get back into production and once it sets in just how little data was lost during the outage.
In fact, there are two important metrics that are tracked when it comes to backup and recovery:
Recovery Time Objective (RTO)
RTO is used to decide how long an outage can last before services are brought back to full strength. In the case of recovery, this is the amount of time that it should take to perform a full restore operation. As is the case with many metrics, think of RTO as a scale. The closer to zero that you get with this metric, the more expensive it is to provide that level of service. In other words, if you want really, really fast RTO, you need to invest in systems that can push lost data back into production very quickly. In most cases, this will mean disk based systems with a lot of throughout.
Recovery Point Objective (RPO)
The RPO metric is one that indicates the tolerance for data loss. The closer to zero, the less tolerance that the organization has for the loss of data. Think of it like this: In overnight backup systems, RPO can be as long as a whopping 24 hours. After all, backups are only performed once per night. So, if a data loss event occurs 10 minutes before a daily backup, an entire day’s work could be lost. As is the case with RTO, RPO is a scale, too. That 24 hour backup delta is a large RPO, but can often be relatively inexpensive to operate. As you get closer to zero RPO, there is a need to back data up more often. This is often accomplished with continuous data protection (CDP) tools that push incremental changes to the backup server throughout the day. Often, CDP tools can be configured on a per application basis so that you can apply different rules and prioritize applications. For example, in the past, for database workloads, I used to apply a 30-minute delta period. Every 30 minutes, changes made to the database would be sent over to the backup server every 30 minutes. So, if the database system failed at some point, no more than 30 minutes worth of work would be lost.
Sometimes, though, recovery is all about getting an organization back up and running after a catastrophic event, such as a tornado or hurricane. In these cases, “typical” recovery processes won’t cut it as local recovery services are often now available anymore. In a major catastrophe, local backup systems might be damaged or destroyed. As such, many organizations are turning to disaster recovery services to ensure the ability to return to operation even if an entire data center is wiped off the map.
Disaster recovery services can be really expensive, depending on how far you want to take things. There was a time when an organization’s only real options were building an expensive hot site/secondary site or collocating backup services in a colo facility. Both approaches required the company to build out an expensive infrastructure, complete with sufficient storage to accommodate data backup needs.
Today, the cloud provides organizations with new opportunities to move data to a secure offsite location without having to make a major capital investment. Now, you can just subscribe to a service and – just like that – you have instant geographically isolated copied of your company’s mission critical backup data. If something bad happens to one of your data centers, you have the ability to recover from the cloud.
With the company’s Cloud Edition products, Veeam provides its customers with seamless integration with more than a dozen cloud service providers. Access to these cloud providers is built right into the backup product, so it is truly a seamless experience, which goes back to the simplicity angle I discussed earlier. With Veeam Backup and Recovery Cloud Edition, customers are able to copy VMware and Hyper-V based virtual machines to any supported cloud provider, including Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Windows Azure, HP Cloud, Rackspace, Google, Clodo, Haylix, Dunkel, Tiscali, HostEurope, DreamObjects, GreenQloud, Seeweb, Connectria, Aruba Cloud and Constant.
Product Editions Breakdown
|Per CPU socket (1st year includes maintenance)|
|Backup (disk and tape)|
|Store backups in the cloud|
|Replication (near-CDP, WAN optimized)|
|Instant VM Recovery®|
|Flexible recovery (entire VM, virtual disks, guest files)|
|Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange & SharePoint|
|vCloud Director support|
|Enhanced tape integration (track VMs on tapes)|
|SureBackup™ – Recovery Verification|
|U-AIR (Universal Application-Item Recovery)|
|1-Click file and VM restore|
|Built-in WAN acceleration|
|Backup from HP storage snapshots|
Modern backup and recovery carries a number of important requirements in addition to just protecting data. It must also offer security and enable recovery in ways that make sense for the organization.
To this end, Veeam provides up to 256-bit AES encryption of all backup data, both while in transit and while at rest in the cloud. The exact level of encryption is defined by the administrator, as shown in Figure 2 below.
Ease of Use
As has always been the case with Veeam’s Backup and Recovery tools, Cloud Edition is easy to use. This has been, perhaps, one of the most compelling arguments over the years for adopting Veeam, besides cost. Ease of use has certainly not been a significant feature is many more traditional backup and recovery tools. Because the product has already included integration components for cloud providers, there is no need for administrators to worry about cloud APIs. Just provide a user name and password. Frankly, while this is really good integration, this kind of service should be more of an expectation from customers for all vendors and it’s nice to see that more vendors these days are making ease of use a critical element of newer versions of products. I see simplicity in all things IT as a key differentiator for products of the future. If a company isn’t providing easy to use solutions, they’re doing it wrong.
Compression and deduplication are a part of the base Veeam Backup and Recovery Cloud Edition v7. These services provide a couple of major benefits:
- Reduced WAN needs. With less data to transmit thanks to compression and deduplication, the less WAN bandwidth that is needed.
- Lower costs. With reduced data being stored at a cloud provider, you get to pay a bit less than you would if the data were to be stored fully hydrated and uncompressed.
Cost is, perhaps, one of the more challenging areas in this equation. First, you have to buy a subscription to Veeam’s software. Next, you need to choose a cloud storage provider and pay them for the cost to store your backed up data.
Let’s take a look at these two areas separately.
Veeam makes the editions of the cloud edition available; these were described earlier in this article. As has been the case with Veeam for a long time, this edition is also priced on a per CPU socket basis. So, if you have ten dual socket servers, you will need to buy twenty licenses. Cloud Edition products include premiere 24×7 support.
Honestly, I’m torn when it comes to a subscription model for this kind of software. I recall many a day when we’ve needed to go back to very old backup tapes and needed to keep a copy of old software and backup hardware around just in case we ever needed to do a recovery. This was especially true if we ever changed backup software platforms. While it was a hassle sometimes, we weren’t truly locked in on any one vendor by virtue of the pricing model. We were able to keep software on site since we had a perpetual license. In considering the Cloud Edition subscription licensing model, there is major potential for lock in on one vendor. While the Veeam of today is an excellent and well-supported company, that’s not to say that management changes or other factors won’t mean that the Veeam of a few years from now might be less desirable. As such, that ability to be able to walk away seems really important and, in this model, would be incredible difficult to do since the “At the end of the license period, both the use of the product as well as support will be turned off. Customers can choose to renew their subscription license at the current rate or buy a new license.”
That said, at least there is an option for those customers down the line. Further, the subscription pricing model means that companies spend a bit less up front and just pay over time, meaning that the budget is a bit more stable and predictable. So, there is definite upside to the model. Personally, I’d rather see purchasing options for both subscription and perpetual models, though.
On the cloud side, when looking at Cloud Edition, customers also need to figure out what they might need to spend each month storing data at their selected cloud provider. Fortunately, Veeam helps you control your spend. For each provider, you can enable cost estimates, as shown in Figure 3. You can also prevent a backup from being performed if it exceeds a budgetary threshold.
Even with this calculator in the product, you will need to do your research to determine the real costs that you will incur in saving data to a cloud provider. Simply placing and storing the data is just one aspect of the service, and is often reasonable inexpensive. However, if you need a provider that can then provide very fast recovery, you could be looking at a substantial invoice. Of course, you go into these kinds of services hoping that you never need to use them and, if you do need to use them, you may be able to have some of the recovery costs covered by insurance, but make certain you fully understand your selected cloud provider’s cost model before you move forward.
I’ve always found Veeam to be a capable product for its intended use and the extension of the product to support cloud targets is a welcome one. I do have some concerns about potential lock in due to pricing and the fact still remains that Veeam is a virtual-only solution, but that issue is becoming less critical with every passing year. Veeam has done an excellent job integrating cloud services into their product and deserves to be on the short list for consideration for most projects.
Download the Trial Version Here >>