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Veeam adds free endpoint backup, gets a little physical

Veeam Endpoint Backup Free is a departure for the virtual machine backup vendor -- not because it's free, but because it handles physical devices.

Virtual machine backup specialist Veeam Software today introduced a free backup product for laptops and desktops. Veeam Endpoint Backup Free is also the vendor's first physical backup product.

By endpoint, Veeam means Windows desktops and laptops, although that may expand to tablets and other devices down the road. Veeam makes it clear this is for small companies and departments, and not meant to compete with enterprise endpoint backup software from Druva, Code42, CommVault and others.

Veeam Endpoint Backup does not require Veeam's flagship Backup & Replication virtual server application, although customers can back up their Windows endpoints to the Veeam backup repository. They can also use Veeam Explorers for Exchange, SharePoint, SQL and Active Directory. Other Veeam Endpoint Backup target options are internal or external hard drives or a NAS share. The software handles bare-metal, volume-level or file-level restores.

"As the name of the product implies, it's endpoint backup, so in the future, it can encompass other things besides desktops and laptops," said Doug Hazelman, Veeam's vice president of product strategy.

Hazelman said endpoint backup required a separate product because Veeam Backup & Replication only protects virtual machines, and laptops and desktops are physical.

The free product lacks enterprise features such as centralized management, application-aware processing, clustering support, file sharing and remote wipe. The software must be installed separately on each device it protects, which will likely limit it to smaller SMBs and departments.

"I don't think an enterprise is going to want to configure 300, 500 or 1,000 laptops separately," Hazelman said. "This gives smaller companies a good solution for endpoints. We have requests from customers who need to protect endpoints, which are physical."

Limited use for physical server backup

Hazelman said the product can protect up to a few Windows servers, but its lack of enterprise features prevents it from being full application server backup.

"The short answer is 'yes, you can back up physical servers,' but only a few," he said.

Endpoint Backup will be available as a public beta in November with general availability planned for early 2015. Users can download the software from Veeam's website. As a free product, Veeam maintains it will attempt to provide support but makes no guarantee. According to a FAQ from the vendor, "Veeam will attempt to provide support based on staff availability but does not provide response goals/guarantees."

Hazelman said he expects most of the downloads to come from current Veeam customers in smaller companies, and perhaps service providers looking to add endpoint protection as a service.

Dave Simpson, 451 Research's senior analyst for data protection, said he considers it "a little odd that they're giving it away for free. Maybe they give it away for free in hopes that somebody will buy [Backup & Replication]."

Simpson said Veeam could be trying to "get its feet wet" in physical backup with the free product. "This is its first foray into physical backup," he said. "But does it get them over the claim that Veeam doesn't back up physical servers? No, that's still a drawback."

Not Veeam's first free product

The free product could be Veeam's first step toward offering endpoint backup as a licensed feature in Backup & Replication after the product is hardened, and perhaps even lead to a physical server backup product. Hazelman won't open or close the door to those possibilities, but said Veeam is following the path it took with its first product, FastSCP, a VMware file transfer utility.

"Making that free allowed us to get it into the hands of target customers and get their feedback," Hazelman said. "That allowed us to build Veeam. We created a reporting product, a monitoring product, a VM management product, and ultimately Veeam Backup & Replication."

That first free product led to a lucrative business for Veeam. The privately held company will generate more than $350 million in revenue in 2014, according to industry sources. Veeam has other free products, including limited versions of its core backup and VM management products, and Veeam Task Manager for Hyper-V.

Next Steps

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Dig Deeper on Backup and recovery software

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How do you handle endpoint backup?