Yesterday was the big announcement at Veeam Velocity for the release of Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 4. This release has been long awaited, and finally hit the streets during Veeam’s kickoff conference. Some very big and anticipated features were announced, along with some smaller features that don’t get the big headlines. Below is my overview of the announcements and ways to get more information beyond what this post offers.
Expanded Public Cloud Capabilities
The shiniest new feature is centered around new capabilities in the public cloud. A new Cloud Tier option is available within the Scale Out Backup Repository (SOBR), which is essentially now comprised of a performance tier and a capacity tier. The performance tier consists of your traditional on-prem backup storage extents that are grouped together in a SOBR. A capacity tier can now be enabled, which consists of some type of object storage (AWS S3, Azure Blob, S3 compatible, IBM Cloud Object Storage) as a target and a policy that can be set for Veeam to automatically migrate backup data that is older than X number of days. This means that you can now utilize public cloud object storage for long term data retention, and the process of moving that data is now natively built into Veeam without the need of any other type of hardware/software on the public storage side. This is all done using Veeam’s dedupe and compression capabilities, which minimizes public cloud storage costs. The full range of restore capabilities are still available for data regardless of where it lives.
In addition to Cloud Tier, Veeam has caught up to some other players in the market with Cloud Mobility. This option has been available pre-Update 4 for Microsoft Azure, but U4 now brings compatibility with AWS and Azure stack. This means that VMs protected by Veeam can be directly restored into any of the three options and run as a native instance (EC2, Azure VM) within the target provider. This is obviously huge as it not only levels the public cloud field with some other data protection vendors, but also gives Veeam customers an easy migration tool for their public cloud of choice.
The acquisition of N2WS in 2018 led to the other big cloud announcement, which is Veeam Availability for AWS. This looks to me to be partly a “re-branding” of N2WS Cloud Protection Manager, along with new integrations to Veeam Backup and Replication to provide a richer native AWS backup solution. The Veeam N2WS backup product is still available within the AWS marketplace, but Veeam B&R now has the ability to view the cloud repository for that data and perform restores direct from within Veeam B&R, but also copy that backup data down to an on-prem repository, allowing for “off-site” copies of your AWS backup data.
Security and governance with DataLabs
New capabilities around security and governance were announced for Veeam DataLabs in the form of Staged Restores and Secure Restores. A Staged Restore is centered more around data governance, and gives the ability to restore data in a Virtual Lab and run application level scripts to “scrub” that data before moving it into production. This allows an organization to be certain that the proper data is elevated into production as to conform with data governance requirements. Additionally, a Secure Restore can be performed which allows virtual disks to be restored and mounted, triggering an AV scan against guest volumes. If any infections are found, the option to continue the restore without network connectivity (to allow an administrator the option to clean the restored VM) or abort the restore are given. This is Veeam’s response to the fact that many malicious attacks can go unnoticed for long periods of time, and therefore more than likely also exist within historical backup data. Secure Restore allows an organization to be confident that the data they are restoring from is clean and safe to put back into production.
Intelligence at your fingertips
For anyone who has opened a case with Veeam before, it was obvious that Veeam has some kind of secret sauce that allowed for making sense of the huge support bundles that are downloaded from Veeam B&R. Even manually going through the logs in the C:\ProgramData\Veeam\Backup folder was quite a bear…although I did get relatively good at taking a shot at it before support replied back! Now U4 brings that intelligence to the customer in the form of Intelligent Diagnostics. As I noticed during my trip to Tech Field Day 17 last year, the prevalence of AI / ML in just about every software product these days is staggering. Veeam has now integrated this intelligence, most notably into Veeam ONE, to bring proactive alerting and automation to the Availability Suite. Users can now resolve key issues without the need for opening a support case due to the integration with Veeam support heuristics. The live announcement went through a demo that showed Veeam proxy heat mapping and automated remediation for certain events, which are just two great use cases of what seems like limitless possibilities unlocked with the AI / ML provided by Intelligent Diagnostics.
All the rest
The features listed above were certainly the note worthy enough to be spotlighted during the announcement at Veeam Velocity. There are still many other new features that are certainly important to customers, including a new licensing model. These include:
-Full support for vSphere 6.7 U1
–Veeam Instance Licensing
-Support for Windows Server 2019 (including AD, Exchange, Sharepoint, Hyper-V)
-Veeam plug-ins for Oracle RMAN and SAP HANA
-Increased vPower NFS performance
-VM tags preserved during Instant Recovery
-Enhanced support for storage integrated snapshots, primary and secondary storage
There are way too many others to list here, but you can check out the official Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 4 page for all the info, including a product overview and what’s new in backup.
You can also listen to a great episode of the Virtually Speaking Podcast that discusses the release.
This is a great step for Veeam and I’m sure many customers will be very enthusiastic about this latest release. There are still some other things that were hinted at a while back (NDMP?) that have yet to materialize, but I believe that the progress to this point covers a much larger market share than what has been left out for the moment. It will certainly be interesting to see how some of the changes will affect best practices that Veeam users have come to be familiar with. In the case of something like Cloud Tier, what if you are using a dedupe appliance for your performance tier and Veeam software dedupe/compression is either very low or turned off completely? These new features may add another layer of complexity for how to properly design a Veeam infrastructure, but they are certainly welcome additions. Based on the demos that were presented during the announcement, it looks like simplicity was key to the design of these features, but how do they run in a non-sterilized and rehearsed environment? I’m sure we will begin to find out soon, as customers begin to hit the ground running and start to leverage these new capabilities they’ve been patiently waiting for.