VMware data backup software vendor Veeam Inc. is previewing a utility for its Backup and Replication 5 software due out in June that lets customers automate backup verification testing and perform granular object restores from snapshot VMware backups.
Backup and Replication works by taking a snapshot of a VMware virtual machine, then backing up only changed blocks stored in a proprietary compressed file format. Doug Hazelman, director of Veeam's global systems engineering group, said Veeam is currently working to patent a new process that will allow customers to publish that compressed backup file as a Data Store for a VMware virtual machine, and run VMware instances directly from a backup file.
The utility is called SureBackup and Hazelman said it works without having to decompress or otherwise change the backup file. SureBackup also lets customers restore individual applications or objects.
Customers must dedicate at some resources in their infrastructure resource pool for the backup copy of the server to spin up, but from there the SureBackup utility also handles restoring application dependencies, which are user-defined either within Veeam or as a VMware vApp. Using the backup file and its dependent applications, SureBackup can then run data backup verification tests.
This is a process that's traditionally manual, according to Veeam customer Kendrick Coleman, network engineer for a nonprofit organization in Indiana he requested not be identified. "We have to do a quarterly test of our backups as a part of the regulations we're under as a financial institution," he said. "SureBackup and moving away from tape will take at least an hour out of the process every time we need to figure out which tape, file, and server agent to test."
Veeam channel partner Craig Stern, chief solutions architect at Louisville, KY-based Mirazon Group, said backup verification is housekeeping that often gets lost in the shuffle among his clients. "It's always on someone's to do list, but it doesn't get done," Stern said. "It almost becomes a full-time job for somebody."
While the product hasn't yet been proven in customer environments, TechTarget executive editor and independent backup expert W. Curtis Preston said he's impressed with the concept. "If they're successful with it, it definitely puts them ahead of the pack in VMware backup," he said. "The coolest part of it is inclusion of non-Windows operating systems. Some VMware-related products ignore everything but Windows."
Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf said SureBackup could solve an important problem, but added "I'd like to see [Veeam] take it further, and provide a high-level dashboard that can be broken up by application tier and report on the results of backup verification testing."
Veeam may be ahead of the pack when it comes to supporting VMware, but it doesn't support physical servers or virtual servers other than VMware. Wolf said it's not necessary for Veeam to "reinvent the wheel, but I do think they could partner with traditional backup companies through OEM agreements, or integrate with physical server backup applications. A lot of organizations are trying to go 100% virtual, but there aren't a lot there yet."
Coleman said he first heard about Veeam in a previous job, but didn't start deploying the software until his current environment was nearly 100% virtualized. Mirazon's Stern also said his clients could benefit from Veeam support for Hyper-V. Veeam supports Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) to quiesce Microsoft applications for snapshots, but hasn't yet formally begun supporting the Microsoft hypervisor.
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