As promised, here’s the first in a series of posts on Veeam Backup & Replication 6.
We recently installed Veeam Backup & Replication 6 at one of our customers. Most of our VMware customer base use VMware Essentials licensing so it’s no surprise that our first Veeam install is also of the “Essentials” variety. I’ll be looking at the “Enterprise” version when we install Veeam inside our own virtual estate.
For B&R6 to operate you require a Windows server with access to a decent amount of disk space as the backup output from Veeam needs to be stored on a Windows filesystem. As well, the management tools and all of the backend services also install on the Windows box. Our customer provided us with a whitebox server with about 4TB available and we loaded it up with Server 2008 R2 and patched to current. We decided to leave this box (hereinafter referred to as the Veeam server) as a standalone workgroup box so that there would be no dependencies on the customer’s AD in case BOTH of their ESXi servers were down. We obtained the Veeam license files and downloaded the install files to the server.
The install was extremely simple, there is one zipped download file that contains three executable installer files and a release notes file:
You first run the “Backup_Setup” file to install the B&R6 product itself. In our customer’s case we just did the basic install and allowed B&R6 to install SQLexpress as part of its install. After it is installed you install the “Enterprise_Manager” which is a nice web-based tool to monitor and manage Veeam B&R6 jobs. There are some basic pre-req’s such as IIS needs to be installed on the sever but nothing major. The install is essentially a “Next, Next, Enter” affair.
There is an optional “Search_Setup” piece which requires a standalone installation of SharePoint Search Server Express which we opted to forgo in this instance.
With the two major pieces installed you end up with two links on the serve desktop:
Clicking on Backup and Replication will take you to a simple Veeam screen (familiar to anyone that has used Veeam B&R or Veeam SCP):
Adding ESXi servers is very easy, you click on Add Server and provide appropriate credential information. The same is true of adding a vCenter. Once a server (or servers) is added it shows up under the Servers link and is available for Backup and/or Replication tasks.
The neat trick with B&R is that you have BOTH traditional replication tools – you can set up a job to replicate your VM’s to another ESX/ESXi server – and Backup tools which perform a seriously cool type of replication to a Windows server and then you have the ability to perform many types of recoveries both at the VM level AND at the (Windows) filesystem level. I tested traditional replication for our customer and it works a treat but they (and we) are more interested in the Backup process.
I created a backup for the first VM as follows:
Note the “Restore points to keep on disk”. This sets the number of “replications” that are kept available (more in a bit) for restore, in this case we can go back 7 iterations (or days, in the case of the customer). Clicking on the Advanced tab brings up some really interesting options:
The real thing of note here is the “reversed incremental”. This is a VERY cool feature that essentially keeps the latest recovery point as a FULL copy of your VM current as of the recovery point time while still ensuring that the latest recovery point backup run ONLY copies changes. The first backup that is performed is a full replication then all backups after that are ONLY the delta changes yet the wizardry of the reverse incremental always ensures the the last backup is complete and available for recovery purposes. Very cool indeed! The Active Full backup allows you to set a time for a full backup to be taken, I’ve done so here so that we essentially always run a week from the last “full”. This is probably not strictly needed with the Reversed incremental but I’m a “belt and suspenders” kind of guy.
These settings (Storage) pretty much speak for themselves.
These settings (vSphere)are pretty important as they directly impact the performance of the backup run.
And these (Advanced) pretty much round things out.
OK, now that the Advanced Settings are set there are a couple of interesting settings for how the Guest itself is processed (the guest OS, that is):
Both settings are important for Windows backups and I think they also speak for themselves.
And Scheduling is pretty obvious, as well. You can set backup to run as often as every 15 minutes or so, as required.
The end result of all of this is a backup job that runs as scheduled. In the case of this job the first FULL backup ran as follows:
And following ones like this:
Note the BIG reduction in backup times with the second screenshot! (Gotta love it!)
As I have email notifications enabled I and the customer also receive a very nice formatted report in email:
Similar info is available from the Enterprise Manager but I’ll leave that for another post.
At this point, the customer has running, up-to-date backups of his VM’s and those backups can be used for recovery purposes at both the VM level (the recovery point can be mounted up to an ESXi server and made available for use in the event that something happens to the source VM or host) and at the Windows level (the recovery point can be brought up in a sandbox VM and files extracted). I’ll write more about these features in future posts.
The important takeaway here is that it is dead simple to set up the basics of Veeam Backup and Replication 6 and backups truly take every little time due to the technologies built into the product. So far I’m pretty impressed. Stay tuned to see if first impressions hold up for the long haul.