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Product Update: Veeam Backup and Recovery Version 9

Posted by Mike Pagan on Mar 7, 2016 4:00:00 PM

BackupandReplication.jpgVeeam Backup and Replication is probably a product that probably doesn't need an introduction but in case you are not familiar, Veeam is a next generation backup product built for virtual machines. Most of Network Center's customer have moved from legacy backup products to Veeam, so the release of version 9 is a milestone release in Veeam's product portfolio.

I have been using Veeam Backup and Recovery as Network Center’s primary backup product for about 2 years now, so when version 9 was released I was ready to test the update on our servers. (At the Network Center we "eat our own dog food," which means that we use the products we recommend).

A couple days after the update was available, I downloaded and started the update. I walked through the three phases of the update (Enterprise Console, Backup Console and Backup and Recovery) and it was quick and easy. After a reboot of the server, that night’s backups were ready to run and all backup jobs have completed successfully since the update (which is exactly how an upgrade is supposed to work).

For those of you who wait until the first update of a software before considering updating, Anton Gostev, Vice President of Product Management and author of the Veeam Community Forums Digest announced on 2/14/2016 that "(Veeam is) now planning to release Update 1 around the end of this month" Based on this information you should be clear to upgrade your Veeam software after the first of March. 

If you would like a full walk through of the current upgrade process, check out Vladan Seget's How-to Upgrade to Veeam Backup and Replication v9. His blog post has screen shots and a video that details the process if your curious about the details.

Best New Features:

So there is a new update of your backup software, why should I care? Good question. It's easy to get lost in the never ending slog of product updates, but here are some of the new features that I think make the update worthwhile: 

  • Standalone Backup Console: This doesn't add new backup functionality to the product but it does allow for admins to add the console do their laptop/desktop and connect back to the Veeam server to check the status of the backup jobs and make changes. Sure, you can RDP to the server to do the same thing. What if you wanted a junior admin to be able to check the backup jobs without giving them access to the server itself? The new standalone console and role based access controls now allow that to happen.
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  • Backup Copy Job Improvements: There have been a number of enhancements with how v9 handles backup copy jobs including parallel processing of jobs, graceful termination of running jobs and general performance improvements. All of these improvements should make the off site copy of your backup data faster and more reliably.

  • New Veeam Explorers:
    • Backup/recovery of Group Policy Objects, Active Directory integrated DNS records
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    • Exchange 2016 support and additional eDiscovery features
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    • More granularity recovery SQL information with table-level recovery and object-level recovery
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  • Per-VM Backup File Chains: This new backup repository option creates a new backup file chain per VM, which can increase backup performance. For those with de-duplicating storage appliances like ExaGrid this can increase backup performance by up to 10x according to Veeam.
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  • BitLooker: Ok, so the name is too similar to Microsoft's BitLocker which may be a poor marketing decision, but the features that it adds are useful. BitLooker helps to reduce the size of your backup files by excluding:
    • Deleted file blocks
    • Swap and hibernation files
    • User-specified files and folders (I prefer to back everything up, but there are use cases where it is required to exclude a folder or two from the backup) New, modern UI: This isn't so much a feature, but it does make the new version feel like a complete and mature product.

      There are other new improvements in v9 that I did not mention, so if you're interested in the full list check out the What's new in Veeam Backup & Recovery v9 document from Veeam.

      As always if you have any questions about the upgrade or would like some assistance with it, please let us know we'd be happy to assist.

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Topics: Data Backup, Virtual Replication, Veeam

What's New in Zerto 4.0

Posted by Mike Pagan on Jul 31, 2015 2:30:00 PM
Today I thought I'd write an update to the Zerto Virtual Replication introductory post that I wrote nearly a year ago. (If you'd like to read my previous post it can be found here: Introduction to Zerto Virtual Replication)  

Zerto_knifeZerto still protects virtual machines with low RPOs (Recovery Point Objectives) by replicating to an offsite virtualization host or vSphere vCloud Director and still does basic offsite backups so I won't go into those features here, but instead highlight the new and/or improved functionality found in Zerto 4.0.

What's New in 4.0:

Since my first post about Zerto, they have released Zerto 4.0 which enhances an already solid product.  Zerto's software engineers have added four new features to their existing feature set:

  •   Brand new user interface - They ditched Adobe Flash for a HTML5 web interface and have created a well-designed and intuitive interface that simplifies creation and administrative tasks. 
  •   Cross hypervisor replication - Zerto can replicate virtual machines between a VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V and vice versa. This allows you to replicate VMs between dissimilar datacenters or easily perform datacenter migrations.
  •   Hyper-V support - You can't have cross hypervisor replication, without Hyper-V support. Now you can get the same low RPOs for production Hyper-V virtual machines or protect dev/test environments by replicating them to a vSphere cluster.
  •   Replication to Amazon Web Services – Now you can protect your virtual machines in AWS and/or migrate them to the cloud by replicating them with Zerto.

If you have not seen the Zerto UI before, I’ve included some screenshots of the old and new UI below.  The great thing about moving away from a Flash based interface to HTML5, is that the UI will work on any computer, tablet, or phone that has a compatible browser. Additionally, anything that can be done to reduce the dependency on Adobe Flash, the safer our networks will be.

Old Zerto User Interface:

Old_Zerto_Interface

 

New Zerto User Interface:

New_Zerto_Interface

My experiences with Zerto:

Over the last year I've had the opportunity to install different virtual machine replication products and I've found that Zerto is one of the simplest products to setup and configure. It is also not prone to the fragility that I've found in other replication products during software upgrades.

Zerto’s product upgrades have been very simple and straightforward. I have completed the upgrade process on the lab servers I have at work and in customer networks and found that it was straightforward and simple. After the upgrade I was able to update my ZRA (Zerto Replication Adapters) and after that was completed, my VPG (Virtual Protection Groups) started replicating again.

As with any products, there are areas for improvement that I have found while working on customer projects. Here are a couple of things that I would I like to see changed to make Zerto more functional for my typical deployments:

  •   More customizable bandwidth throttling - Bandwidth can be throttled by time range but not on daily basis. For example, it would be helpful if I could restrict bandwidth used for replication between 8am and 8pm M-F but let it be unlimited over the weekend.
  •   Limit email notifications - During the initial sync or during times of bandwidth contention, I've seen the Zerto software sending far too many emails about RPO violations and other warnings. Currently, there is no way to throttle notifications other than to disable notifications entirely.
  •   Easier offline replication seeding - Almost all networks I work on don't have enough bandwidth or time to let their virtual machines do their initial replications over the WAN. I have looked at the process to do offline seeding of virtual machines but I think it should be a wizard driven process in the Zerto Virtual Manager web client to make it simpler and less prone to errors.

Those personal gripes aside, I highly recommend taking a look at Zerto if you have an upcoming disaster recovery project. Zerto offers a free, fully functional 30 day trial so you can install it in your environment and see for yourself how simple virtual replication can be. If you have any questions or need some assistance configuring your Zerto trial, please reach out to us and we'd be happy to help you become familiar with Zerto. 

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Topics: Virtual Replication

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