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Publisher, school switch to Veeam for Hyper-V protection

Veeam Software has expanded its virtual machine backup from VMware-only to include Hyper-V backup, and customers would like to see its physical backup expand as well.

Veeam Software launched in 2008 100% focused on virtual machine backup for VMware. Now customers increasingly use Veeam for Microsoft Hyper-V backup -- including disgruntled former Veritas Backup Exec users -- and are asking Veeam for more physical backup.

Business & Legal Resources (BLR) and the Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) in Maryland fit that profile.

Both organizations are Hyper-V customers who switched to Veeam Availability Suite from Backup Exec (BE) because of unpopular changes to that product and lack of support for common applications. And both have requested more physical backup support from Veeam.

Instant Recovery a savior for publisher

Online publisher BLR switched from BE to Veeam for Hyper-V in late 2014 because BE did not support the latest Hyper-V version.

"They supported Hyper-V 2012 but we were on Hyper-V 2012 R2 and they didn't support R2," said John Burks, BLR's director of IT. "We were a beta tester [for BE 12.5] but we could never get a fully functional restore unit. We tried for six months to get it to work. The vendor wasn't giving us the dates for when they would fix it."

A frustrated Burks saw a Veeam for Hyper-V product demonstration during Microsoft TechEd North America 2014 in Houston. He decided to buy the Veeam Availability Suite. He said the switch paid off when Veeam "saved our company three times in the first 12 months."

The most important "save" came during migration of an acquired healthcare publisher's servers to the BLR data center. An employee mistakenly deleted a virtual machine the company used to run a portal for one of its websites. Burks said Veeam's Instant VM Recovery enabled BLR to restore the site within a minute.

"Here's a website with 8,000 subscribers hitting it every day," he said. "Doing cleanup work, an admin deleted it. The websites went dark. We did an instant recovery with Veeam, and before our monitoring software even knew it was down, we were back online and operational. Our call center didn't receive a single call from a customer."

instant recovery allows users to work off a snapshot of a VM while full recovery takes place in the background.

"If we were still relying on tape, by the time we found the tapes, indexed them and did the restore, our site would've been down for hours. With Veeam we did it instantly," Burks said.

Burks said BLR cut out most of its tape when it switched over to Veeam. An EMC storage shop, Burks looked at Data Domain disk backup but instead bought a Synology NAS box with 40 TB of capacity for less than $7,000. The company had budgeted $120,000 for the disk library. "I get the same response level as with EMC disk for a lot less money," Burks said.

His one complaint about Veeam is lack of a full physical backup product. Burks said he will always have a few physical severs, and he is now using Veeam's free Endpoint Backup software with no guaranteed customer support.

"I've asked them, 'When will you come out with a paid product that's supported as well as your product for virtual machines?'" he said. "I think that's their only shortcoming right now."

School district cuts full backup to four hours with Veeam for Hyper-V

AACPS switched to Veeam in July after deciding not to renew its Backup Exec licenses. AACPS senior systems admin Manish Patel said he found Backup Exec 2012 licensing complicated and the price would have soared if he renewed.

"I needed a Ph.D. in their licensing to understand how it worked," he said. "I priced a new license and it went up more than 250%."

He said Backup Exec 2012's changes also made for a steep learning curve for staff. "I had to retrain staff and field people creating backup jobs and using restores as well," he said.

Patel also found Veeam at a TechEd conference. He brought it in for a proof of concept last February before buying the software for his school system with more than 10,000 employees and 80,000 students. He said the first thing he noticed was that backups run much quicker.

"Full backups would take 24 hours on the weekends with Backup Exec," he said. "With Veeam they take 40 minutes. We used to only back up critical data during weekdays and do fulls on weekends. Now we can do a full backup every day."

Patel said he has not needed instant recovery for production data but has been able to recover individual files in tests. He said he intends to implement Veeam's Exchange recovery tool after he completes the move of email to virtual servers.

Like Burks, Patel said he wants Veeam to add a full physical backup product. The district still has a few databases running on physical servers. A Hewlett Packard Enterprise 3PAR storage array customer, the AACPS uses Hewlett Packard Enterprise's Data Protection software and StoreOnce disk appliances for those physical servers. Patel said he would rather have one application for physical and virtual backups.

"I've asked Veeam to come up with a physical backup capability," Patel said.

Veeam executives say they are considering adding a full physical backup application but have no firm plans or timetable.

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