Veeam as a vSphere backup solution

I’ve recently had the pleasure of implementing Veeam Backup & Replication v8 as a direct replacement for BackupExec 2012/2014 vRay edition.  BackupExec 2012 was a terrible product, which is such a shame considering how good its Veritas predecessor was.  BackupExec 2014 was just as bad; its low reliability and poor usability create a huge support overhead and make RTO/RPO goals unachievable.  I think Symantec approached VM backups from the wrong angle; by indexing and cataloging all data within the VM at the point of backup, your backup jobs take longer and are more prone to failure, therefore it becomes difficult to fit everything within your backup windows.  Veeam keeps things simple and just uses the inbuilt ESXi snapshot capabilities – backups are therefore quick and the danger of agent/application based failures is removed.  Here is a quick summary of my experience with Veeam:

Pros:

  • VEEAM It just works! I can’t count the amount of times those words have been shouted across my office.  Seriously, this software is reliable.  I have yet to see a backup job failure other than when hardware was at fault.
  • It is truly agentless.  There is nothing to install on the VM which makes roll-out much quicker and reduces ongoing support effort.
  • Despite being agentless it still allows granular restores of application data.  Linux, Windows, SQL, AD, Sharepoint, Exchange data is all recoverable via Veeam Explorer.
  • Its fast! In my experience backup times have been cut by up to 80% compared to the existing solution.
  • As well as backing up, Veeam B&R can also replicate VM’s directly to another vCenter server.  This is fantastic for an offsite DR solution and can get RTO down to minutes!  The replication can generate data directly from vCenter or from an existing backup file to avoid the VM being unnecessarily backed up twice.
  • The interface is intuitive and easy to use.  You can gain a good understanding after just an hours online video training.
  • It supports synthetic full backups which can greatly reduce backup windows.
  • TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is actually lower than a lot of rival products such as BackupExec.

Cons – I’m going to struggle here as there isn’t much bad that I can say about the product!

  • As is true of most backup software, this is very CPU intensive, so you need some decent kit behind it.
  • The reporting functionality within Veeam Enterprise Manager is nice but a little limited.  Custom reports would be a nice enhancement.
  • It doesn’t support physical backups. Although if you so have legacy physical kit remaining in your Infrastructure you can technically use Veeam Endpoint Backup which is free :)
  • The restore times advertised by Veeam are a little ambitious and very much depend on the underlying disks that your backups reside on – for your primary backup repository you really do need something fast. I have seen some blisteringly fast restores from local disks but very poor restore speeds when using deduplication devices etc.
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