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Veeam scales out with Backup and Replication 6

Hyper-V support was the headline when Veeam previewed its Backup and Replication 6 product at Microsoft TechEd. But with the new release, which will begin shipping in the fourth quarter, Veeam’s also branching out in other ways.

A new scale-out architecture is among the additional updates Veeam announced today. Previously, scaling out with Veeam meant adding another Backup and Replication server, which could be managed centrally using Veeam’s Enterprise Manager. With version 6, the Backup and Replication server becomes the manager of separate backup proxies and repositories.

This takes processing load off the main backup server and offloads it to the proxies, which can scale out as needed and improve performance, the company said. Enterprise Manager will remain available, with the added ability to edit and clone backup jobs. (Previously, this product was limited to a read-only reporting role.)

Backup proxies can also be distributed over the network, closer to the source of data. The same goes for repositories, which can be placed closer to backup targets. Having repository proxies can also help avoid a performance choke point at the target, also known as target saturation. This design also reduces the amount of network chatter between source and target replicas.

“I like the concept of the distributed architecture, because currently we keep our Veeam server offsite and backup over 1-GB Fibre connection,” said Veeam user Lance Madsen, a systems administrator for InnerVision Advanced Medical Imaging. “It would be nice to tap directly into our 10-GB iSCSI or Fibre Channel SAN for very quick backup times and then copy this data to a backup repository that is offsite.”

More new features

The new architecture also speeds replication, Veeam said. Another update to the product is the ability to use a feature of VMware’s vStorage APIs for Data Protection, called Hot Add, to perform writes. That provides replication support for thin-provisioned target disks and improves replication performance by cutting down on network traffic and making for faster restores, Veeam said.

Other updates in Veeam Backup and Replication 6 include:

  • network setup information within replication jobs, which means these settings don’t have to be changed on the new network in the event of a failover;
  • the ability to make a replica copy the new master image in the event of a failover;
  • automated failback with the ability to automatically sync changes to data made since failover — a one-click process that can be used on either a single machine or all VMs;
  • the ability to see” first backups via portable hard drive instead of doing initial syncs over the network, which can take a long time;
  • the ability to restore a single file from Enterprise Manager search results with one click and to delegate file-level restores to helpdesk or other staff in the data center;
  • one-click VM restore via a checkbox, which asks if a VM image is to be restored to its original location;
  • and free license swaps between VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V, as long as the same number of per-socket licenses are required.

Coopetition with Microsoft and VMware

Veeam Backup and Replication and similar products face not only competition from traditional backup tools, such as Symantec Corp.’s Backup Exec and NetBackup, but also from platform vendors’ offerings, such as VMware’s newly announced vSphere Replication which provides host-based replication.

“We’ve been doing host-based replication since 2008,” said Doug Hazelman, Veeam’s senior director of product strategy. “And we’re providing replication for VMware as well as Hyper-V all within one interface, and we also include backup.”

Veeam is also differentiating its product from vSphere Replication with its ability to perform automated failback. (VSphere 5 adds this capability for SAN-based replication.)

On the Microsoft side, Veeam must similarly compete with Microsoft’s System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM). One Hyper-V user who has been considering Veeam remains on the fence between it and DPM.

“2012 is a big year for all of the System Center products,” said Rob McShinsky, senior systems engineer for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. “Backup with DPM has gotten better.”

However, “Some of the features of Veeam like data deduplication … [are] very appealing,” McShinsky said. Currently, he does full backups on DPM to a Data Domain VTL to get disk savings through deduplication.

“Doing it the way we do now, we do see some backup storms and target saturation,” he said.