Before I get rolling on this post let me just say this …

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I am unapologetic about it, I think Veeam is one of the best applications to come down the pike in a long, long time.  And, no, I’m not a Veeam employee, just a very enthusiastic user of the product!  OK, now for the meat and potatoes …

One thing we (itgroove) get asked about, a lot, is remote backup.  I’ll be honest, to this point in time I have not come across any remote backup system that I can heartily endorse to any customer.  Yes, there are a lot of remote backup services out there – some better than others – but they all tend to leave me a bit cold as they usually fall down horribly when it comes to quick recovery.  Worse, they usually end up costing way more than most people bargain for.  We have also tried things like replicating backup devices (we tried using the RSYNC functions built into QNAP’s, as an example) with less than satisfactory results.  Frankly, I was beginning to despair of finding a system that I could trust to recommend to customers, then along came Veeam …

I’ve already waxed poetic about Veeam’s abilities in other posts so I’m going to focus on it’s abilities to both back up to a remote location across WAN links as well as handle replication across WAN links in this post.  I believe that these capabilities are worth their weight in gold, specially so to SMB’s that usually don’t have the financial resources to do all the things they should in terms of backup and DR.

With the latest release of Veeam, Veeam v7, the remote backup/replication abilities have been further enhanced over the already very capable abilities of v6.  The big addition is the built-in “WAN accelerator” feature available with the Enterprise Plus editions of Veeam.  The WAN accelerator feature can provide some fairly impressive reductions in overall bandwidth use for both remote backup and replication as the acceleration is “tuned” specifically for these processes as opposed to general hardware appliance-based WAN accelerators that have to cope with many traffic types.  The other big feature in v7 (in my opinion) is the ability to “seed” both remote replication and remote backups with full backups from your main Veeam site.  This alone provides a massive jump on the WAN data bandwidth reduction side of things as you can “sneaker net” large amounts of seed data out to your remote site then let Veeam syncronize backups going forward using the seed data to start.

We have two projects underway with two different customers that will leverage these abilities and I’ll be blogging about their progress and results.  I think both are of interest to SMB’s as they are both real-life cases that are applicable to many small organizations.

Project A is a project to create a reliable off site backup using Veeam to process backups of a single VMware ESXi 5.1 host and two Windows Server 2008 R2 VM’s.  Veeam is currently performing on-site backups of the host with output going to a local, on-site QNAP.  The remote backup process will create a second Veeam backup stream via a remote Windows 7 Veeam proxy with the backup data being streamed out to a second QNAP at the remote site.  In this particular case the main site and the remote site are both using Shaw as the ISP and both sites have Sonicwall firewalls so the Veeam data is being routed over a Sonicwall site-to-site VPN link.  I’ll be blogging the details in a followup post titled Veeam Backup – Project A.  The overall goal is to meet the Veeam “3-2-1” backup recommendations and to have reliable backup data living in two separate locations on separate media and eliminate the need to have offsite data having to be copied to USB media and manually taken off site AND keep the costs down to a manageable level.

Project B is a project to create a “poor man’s” DR site for a customer where a critical subset of their systems is to be replicated and available on “hot standby” in case of disaster at their main operations site.  I use the term “poor man’s” DR as this site is being put together on a shoe-string budget due to the nature of the customer’s finances.  I’m not necessarily advocating for everyone to do something similar but it will serve to illustrate what can be done with a bit of effort and thinking even if the budget is not forthcoming.  In this particular case we are repurposing some old servers the customer had along with a “found” SAN that another customer was decommissioning.  While the SAN is a nice thing to have there is no reason at all why something like a multi-bay QNAP or other low-cost NAS could not be used in its place.  The big enabler, here, is Veeam Enterprise Plus with the WAN accelerator.  The customer’s main site has two largish VMware ESXi 5.1 hosts with multiple VM’s on each host as well as a physical SQLserver host that backends their main LOB app.  The SQLserver is backed up by BackupExec and there is a weekly backup job that outputs a full VM of the server.  We are hoping to incorporate that backup VM into the overall Veeam process.   This one is going to be very interesting; I’ll be posting about it as Veeam Replication – Project B.  As with Project A, both sites use Shaw as the ISP and both sites have Sonicwall’s and we’ll be leveraging Sonicwall site-to-site VPN connections.

So, I hope you’ll keep an eye for my updates and come along for the ride.  This should be very educational, I know I’m going to learn a bunch, I hope you will, too!

Veeam–remote backup and replication for SMB’s–two case studies
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