Over 250,000 organizations utilize Veeam solutions to make sure their data is available when needed. After many customer and partner visits over the years its become apparent that not everyone takes full advantage of some of the most awesome Veeam capabilities. This blog will provide you with a few different ways that you can get more out of your data with Veeam Backup & Replication.
Replication has been a staple feature within the flagship product: Veeam Backup & Replication (hence the name) – Just like on the backup side for Replication to occur there’s no need to install agent software inside the VM guest OS to retrieve VM data. To replicate VMs, VBR leverages the native VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V snapshot and capabilities. When you replicate a VM, Veeam Backup & Replication requests VMware vSphere to create a VM snapshot or Microsoft Hyper-V to initiate a checkpoint. The VM snapshot/checkpoint should be thought of as an all-inclusive point-in-time copy of the VM including its configuration, OS, applications, associated data, system state and so on. Veeam Backup & Replication uses this point-in-time copy as the source of data for replication.
In Veeam Backup & Replication, replication is a job-driven process so in order to perform replication, you need to configure replication jobs. A replication job is the main configuration unit of the replication activity. The replication job defines when, what, how and where to replicate. One replication job can be used to process one or several VMs. You can instruct Veeam Backup & Replication to run jobs automatically by schedule or start them manually.
In many respects, replication works similarly to forward incremental backup. During the first replication cycle, Veeam Backup & Replication copies data of the original VM running on the source host, and creates its full replica on the target host. Unlike backup files, replica virtual disks are stored uncompressed in their native format and all subsequent replication cycles are incremental. Veeam Backup & Replication copies only those data blocks that have changed since the last replication job session. To keep track of changed data blocks, Veeam Backup & Replication uses different approaches depending on the hypervisor. For VMware vSphere, CBT is utilized and for Microsoft Hyper-V 2008R2 / 2012 / 2012 R2 – Filter Driver is utilized and for Hyper-v 2016 – Resilient Change Tracking is used.
Veeam Backup & Replication lets you perform onsite replication for high availability (HA) scenarios and remote (offsite) replication for disaster recovery (DR) scenarios. To facilitate replication over the WAN or slow connections, Veeam Backup & Replication optimizes traffic transmission by filtering out the unnecessary data blocks such as duplicate data blocks, zero data blocks, blocks of swap files and blocks of excluded VM guest OS files, and compresses replica traffic. Veeam Backup & Replication also allows you to use the built-in WAN accelerators technology and apply network throttling rules to prevent replication jobs from consuming the entire network bandwidth.
2.) Remote Replica from Backup
Disaster recovery plans often require that you backup and replicate the same VM for disaster recovery and high availability purposes. Normally, this doubles the workload on production applications, services and their underlying infrastructure. You need to create two VM snapshots, independently from one another (one for backup and one for replication), and transfer the corresponding data from the production site twice – doubling the traffic that is traversing the site-to-site link.
You can reduce the workload on the production environment by using the remote replica from backup option, which can be used for onsite and offsite replication scenarios.
When you perform remote replication from backup, Veeam Backup & Replication does not address hosts and storage in the production environment to read VM data. As a source of data, VBR uses a backup chain that already exists on the backup repository. As a result, you do not need to create a VM snapshot for replication and transport the same data twice. You retrieve VM data only during the backup job, and the replication job re-uses this data to build VM replica restore points.
Pretty efficient, eh!?!
At first glance, the replica from backup might resemble replica seeding. But, there is difference between these options. Replica seeding uses the backup file only during the first run of a replication job. To further build VM replica restore points, the replication job addresses the production environment and reads VM data from the source storage. The second difference, is that the remote replica from backup uses a backup chain on the backup repository as the only source of data. When building a new VM replica restore point, Veeam Backup & Replication always reads data from the latest restore point in the backup chain, either full or incremental.
3.) On-Demand Sandbox and SureBackup
When you need to perform tests on production applications and services, you can use a feature of Veeam Backup & Replication, On-Demand Sandbox. The On-Demand Sandbox is an isolated virtual environment where you can start one or more VMs based on an Application group that you define. For instance, for an application there are many different tiers and services. Front-End web, middleware, SQL DB, Active Directory and DNS. In the application group, one would add each of these services in the desired order of power-on. This makes sure that the underlying infrastructure – AD / DNS / SQL are up and online ahead of the front-end web server. Some common scenarios for this feature are:
- Troubleshoot problems with VMs
- Test software patches and upgrades
- Install new software
When the source of the sandbox is a VM backup the unique part of this technology is the fact that its utilizing the v-Power NFS feature within Veeam (power-on VMs from backup images). Alternatively, the source for the On-Demand Sandbox can be from VM replicas or VMs from storage snapshots.
The On-Demand Sandbox uses a virtual lab, which is an isolated environment that’s fully fenced off from the production environment. VMs started in the virtual lab remain in the read-only state making all changes written to redo logs (for VM backups and storage snapshots) or saved to delta files (for VM replicas). Redo logs and delta files are deleted after you finish working with the On-Demand Sandbox and power it off, leaving your Backup files, VM replicas or Storage Snapshots in their original state.
A SureBackup job is a job type that’s used for application recovery verification. The SureBackup job will aggregate all settings and policies of the recovery verification task, such as application group and virtual lab to be used, VM backups that must be verified in the virtual lab and so on. The SureBackup job can be run manually or scheduled to be performed automatically.
When a SureBackup job runs, Veeam Backup & Replication first creates an environment for verification via the following steps:
- Veeam Backup & Replication starts the virtual lab – just like in the On-Demand Sandbox
- VMs from the application group are started in the virtual lab and in the required order. The application group remains running until the verified VMs are booted from backups and tested.
- When the virtual lab is ready, Veeam Backup & Replication tests and, depending on the job settings, verifies them one by one or creates several streams and tests a number of VMs simultaneously.
4.) Veeam Availability Orchestrator (Under Development and in Beta)
Based on the Veeam Replication engine customers struggle with effectively building and documenting their business continuity and disaster recovery plans (BCDR). Veeam Availability Orchestrator helps customers, through a template driven mechanism, automatically document their strategy on an automated basis. This ensures that documentation is 100% up to date.
Documentation is one piece, but leveraging the disaster recovery site efficiently and effectively is also a challenge that enterprise customers face. Based on Veeam Replicas, Veeam Availability Orchestrator allows the automated testing of your defined DR plan and ensures the overall readiness, should disaster strike. The important piece to this is the fact that these Replicas are located within the Disaster Recovery data center so there is never an impact to the production systems.
When testing of these plans occur, Veeam Availability Orchestrator will leverage the Virtual Lab technology to spin these Replicas up within a fenced off and isolated environment. This allows for automated application verification through the use of scripts that is completely customizable based on the application and environment. In the end this ensures reliable recovery and the ability to ensure business continuity.