Veeam has, after what has seemed to be the longest beta program ever, released to general availability Veeam Availability Suite version 9, which includes all-new versions of Veeam Backup & Replication and Veeam ONE. Having reached the venerable version number of 9, are these new editions revolution or evolution?
That is a good question. There are what’s new PDFs with nearly ten pages of new features. But what exactly is new, and what is just an evolution? Version 8 finally brought us the ability to back up to tape for true archiving. I remember having a conversation with Doug Hazleman over that way back at VMworld San Francisco in 2009. So, what is the key takeaway from Veeam v9?
Taking a first glance at the “what’s new” section in the v9 literature, it would appear that this release is a completely new and total rewrite, considering the number of new features that have been packed in. The Backup & Replication document alone comes to ten pages. “Impressive,” I hear you say, but the fact is that there is not a lot that is truly new. The vast majority of features appear to be enhancements and evolutions rather than revolution and innovation. But more on that later.
What Is New in Veeam v9?
Scale-out Backup Repository is new. This feature addresses the challenge of maintaining a backup store of homogeneous storage and the costs of consistently scaling that cover an ever-increasing backup profile with a single software-defined repository that can span multiple heterogeneous arrays or devices.
CEO Ratmir Timashev stated that “[SOBR] is another example of how [Veeam is] taking full advantage of new technologies to improve availability for the enterprise. In this case, the result is dramatic simplification and cost reduction for backup storage management, making it easier and more cost effective to provide ‘always-on’ performance.”
Veeam has also enhanced the ability to back up from storage snapshots, historically HP and NetApp, but now it has added EMC arrays, further reducing the backup overhead to your virtual environment.
BitLooker, Veeam’s patent-pending data reduction technology, is interesting, as it can remove useless chunks of data from a backup. Things like deleted blocks and files that will be unusable on a restore, like a page file or a hibernation file, can be selected so as not to be backed up. Now, I know that this has been present on traditional storage forever, but remember that Veeam is a hypervisor-aware backup solution, so it basically backs up the VM’s disks. Now, there are some limitations with BitLooker: it is NTFS-based disks only. This technology can significantly reduce the overall size of your resultant backups.
This technology is currently only for Windows-based machines. But considering that Veeam now offers Linux backups, the other enhancements are more evolutionary: for example, support for any deduplication appliances and enhancements to their native tape handling, enhancements to Veeam Explorers and engine optimizations, and the introduction of Linux backups.
As I said, evolutionary over revolutionary, but in what direction is this evolution moving the product? This is subtle, but I feel that this and, to a lesser effect, version 8 have started to morph from a virtualization backup engine to a fully featured cloud-based DRaaS (DR as a Service). Veeam Cloud Connect enables the movement and storage of Veeam’s image-based backups into Veeam engines provided by Veeam Cloud & Service Provider partners. This sounds interesting, but when you look under the covers, this product is changing significantly. I can now move, restore, recover, and do full and partial remote DR site recoveries between on-premises environments and multiple cloud vendors. Yes, that’s right: vSphere to AWS or GCS or almost any environment.
Couple with this the ability to back up physical devices with the Veeam Endpoint product. Admittedly, it is currently only for Windows desktop devices, but it would not take much—I am paraphrasing here—to expand this to Windows Servers and Linux devices.
The ability to move machines between differing environments will add the ability to convert machines. Add to this the ability to recover with full site failover, and you have a data center migration strategy. Built-in Network Extension appliances simplify the complexity of networking and help preserve communication between running VMs, regardless of location. But it is the integration of new technologies like BitLooker that clearly shows their direction of travel.
I fully believe that this is the start of a new direction for Veeam from being a traditional virtualization backup company to becoming a fully featured cloud migration and disaster management company.