Veeam User Group Boston – 02/27/2020

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a Veeam User Group meeting at my local Veeam office. Having been involved with VMUG for so long, the VUG meetings feel familiar even if they’re in a different location with different topics. The meeting was scheduled from 11am – 3pm with time for networking and/or questions for SEs at each book-end.

At kickoff of the meeting, we saw an introduction of the people in the room. Veeam provided several different people in technical roles to answer questions and talk about design. A member of the Customer Success team was present to share a quick way to get some support for various things that might not be truly “tech support” type questions – how to perform something, an overview of architecture, etc. To top off the Veeam representation in the room, two Sales leaders were present from different verticals in the event anyone had questions for them.

Much like VMUGs, the VUG was a sponsored event by Nutanix. In previous VUG meetings that I’ve attended, Nutanix has also been a sponsor and taken time to speak about Veeam Backup for AHV. A lot of the concepts were similar to how I’ve known Veeam to function for vSphere, but not quite as fully featured (yet). This time, Nutanix spoke briefly at the onset of the meeting and offered his business card to anyone who had any questions – no pressure, no sales pitch, no sponsor session. The entirety of this VUG meeting focused on the new v10 release!

After introductions, the meeting began by showing a video of the v10 live announcement. I missed the live stream when it happened, so it was nice to have dedicated time out of the office to watch Danny Allan (Twitter) and Anton Gostev (Twitter) talk about the newest release. We made it through demos by Michael Cade (Twitter) and Rick Vanover (Twitter) on NAS Backup and Instant Recovery, respectively, before lunch arrived. This was just enough content to get me interested before a quick break and a bite to eat for the deeper dive.

Starting back up, we took a really quick look at some products and their status. Veeam Availability Suite v10, Veeam Backup for O365 v4, and Veeam Backup for AWS are all Generally Available. Veeam Backup for Azure is currently in Beta testing. Veeam Availability Orchestrator v3 and Veeam Availability Console v4 are both in Tech Preview. If you’re interested in the Beta or Tech Preview pieces, reach out to your account team to see if they can get you some binaries to play with (no promises that they’ll hand them over, though!).

Onto the stuff that I thought was cool:

NAS Backup

The new NAS Backup solution looks really impressive and looks to offer NAS devices and file servers a bit more granularity for backup. At my shop, I’m using VBR to back up my entire file server which wasn’t architected in a way to dedicate individual drives to a department. From my understanding of what was presented, the NAS Backup feature will allow me to backup individual shares on my file server to provide further granularity for backup windows. An example: for SOX compliance, I’ve been told that the Finance share must be backed up at a given interval. Due to the overall size of the file server, even some incremental backups may miss the required interval. The NAS Backup tool allows me to be even more granular to get ONLY the Finance share and it’s respective files. This solves a huge problem for me that I’m facing right now!

Similar to backing up the entire file server with Change Block Tracking, NAS Backup is using Changed File Tracking. Changed File Tracking is looking at certain metadata about a given file to determine whether anything has changed. An example: If the hash of a given folder in a tree structure is identical from the last backup, that entire folder is skipped from processing as nothing has changed. One benefit of CFT over CBT is that CFT is effectively a forever-forward incremental job – there is never a need to re-ingest all your data like when CBT goes nuts and you have to run an Active Full. We were told that CFT protects against that from happening, but I didn’t get the details on how or why – I know I can probably dig into some docs to get the answer. If you know it without doing so, please share!

NAS Backup introduces a new type of Veeam Proxy – the File Proxy. File Proxy can be co-installed as a role with existing Windows Proxy systems. The File Proxy is used to store the metadata of NAS Backup jobs (like the hash values mentioned above). That metadata is stored in the Cache Repository which has sizing estimates of approximately 2% of the total data being backed up by the NAS Backup job.

Instant Recovery

Most of what we covered for Instant Recovery improvements were right out of Rick’s demo on announcement. Instant Recovery now offers the ability to recover from any location (cloud, virtual, or physical) directly to vSphere which seems like a cool concept. This provides a bit more flexibility with where businesses are running their workloads.

In addition, Instant Recovery can now recover multiple VMs at once. This provides a significantly faster recovery process, allowing the administrator to potentially recover an entire distributed application in a single wizard-driven process instead of recovering each component of the application through multiple wizards (and more time).

There was some talk during Rick’s demo about how Instant Recovery is now better utilizing the available memory from backup services to start VMs faster. In Rick’s demo, VBR 9.5v4 had a Windows VM up and running in 3-4 minutes. In v10, that took under 20 seconds. During the event, one of the engineers had upgraded his VBR server from 9.5v4 to v10 and performed an Instant Restore of a VM running in VMware Workstation. Using the limited laptop resource, Instant Recovery of a VM took 16 seconds. Impressive!

Veeam Backup for AWS (VBA)

In my current role, I’m not managing too many AWS (or Azure for that matter) workloads. I still found some of the features of VBA to be really interesting. The first thing that I noticed was that VBA has no Console like Backup & Recovery does. The product is HTML5-based and feels eerily similar to Enterprise Manager except that I found it a bit more intuitive to use. I love Enterprise Manager for my end-users, but I really wish that most of the features from the Console were available. I know that this is likely a purposeful design choice, but VBA looks really close to what I’ve always wanted!

VBA itself is, unsurprisingly, another wizard-driven approach to backing up AWS resources based on the IAM role. One feature of that wizard that I found would be important was cost-estimation. The cost estimation shows an estimate of how much it will cost for the snapshots defined in a given Policy (where policies seem to be similar to an amalgamation of a backup schedule and restore points) which becomes more accurate over time. Initial cost estimates may be different than a month from now. Definitely a useful feature for show-/charge-back.

Veeam Backup & Replication Community Edition

I’ve known the Community version of VBR has existed for some time now, but I’ve never had a home lab that I needed to back up until recently. Now that I’ve got something to protect, it’s time for me to pay a little more attention to VBR Community Edition.

Veeam Backup & Replication Community Edition is 100% free to cover 10 different workloads. Those workloads can be virtual, cloud, or physical. Yes – that means that there is a Community Edition of Veeam Backup for AWS as well! I can’t quite find the bits for it, but this topic came up explicitly at the event. Whether it’s Veeam Agent for Windows (or Linux), a vSphere/Hyper-V virtual machine, or an AWS workload – the Community Edition allows you to back up any combination of 10 of those items.

The Community Edition is mostly equivalent to the Standard licensing level. The two primary differences are that Community Edition won’t allow you to back up to a Veeam Cloud Connect Service Provider and that support is best-effort. Trade-offs that I can handle.

I’m really excited to get this running in the home lab after I get some repository space. I may invest in some of the Universal Licensing packs in the future to play with some other feature unavailable to the Community Edition. First, let’s get it running. As Gostev says, “it can be up and running in 15 minutes.”

What are you excited about for the Veeam v10 release? Did I misrepresent any of the new features after only hearing about it once (correct me!)?

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