How has it helped my organization?
I used to work for a company that provided Backup/DR as a service to its clients we had to look at various backup and recovery tools to quickly and easily bring back customers data. Before Veeam introduced the backup to tape and WAN acceleration features we were using 3 different products across a number of our clients to provide the required services. After those feature releases, we just used one tool through a single console (the infamous single-pane-of-glass) which reduced the complexity and management overheads within our solutions but also provided our customers with a far greater level of service and reliability.
What is most valuable?
This is actually quite a hard choice to make when dealing with Veeam Backup & Replication. There are a number of great features such as WAN acceleration, deduplication & compression, replication and the grandfather-father-son backup tree. Not to mention backup to tape which has been a key reason to migrate to Veeam. The primary feature of most value to me is the SureBackup and SureReplica featureset. Having the ability to verify backups and replicas of critical servers in a sandboxed environment means that I can sleep comfortably at night knowing that the data is valid and I can confidently restore data and services if required by the business. Snapshot capabilities within NetApp would also be high on that list.
What needs improvement?
Backup of physical servers. I know Veeam has vehemently said they will never go down that route but it's a feature I need, and badly. Having the ability to use Veeam within all our virtual environments is fantastic, but it also means we still have a requirement to use TSM to back up our physical servers via an agent. With endpoint protection features being announced recently, I can only hope that this develops into the backup of all physical devices and allows it to be managed through the Veeam console.
Recently I've been discussing the capabilities of endpoint protection with a Veeam Rep. around the area of enterprise applications. In this instance I'm focused on SQL and Exchange. Despite my protestations we are still using physical exchange servers (and I doubt we're the only enterprise) so being able to get a good backup of those servers is critical to allow replacement of current backup solutions. Right now Veeam are not confident with Exchange backups and would recommend one of the DAGs to be virtual to ensure the backup consistency. For SQL however they are happy with their testing and while not being a released feature it is something that can be backed up via endpoint protection. This area of development for Veeam is going to be a critical one for them to truly enter the enterprise backup arena.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
99% of the time there are no issues with Veeam. It does exactly what it says on the tin and it really is just as easy as they make it look in their demos and videos. On a few occasions I had issues with VSS failing on a server which came down to being an operating system issue. Another time there was a problem where the backup was not truncating exchange logs. Veeam Support provided a patch within 24 hours which immediately fixed the issue permanently.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
In early versions of Veeam, before version 6.5, there were issues but since Veeam has utilised backup Proxy servers there's no issue with scalability. You can leverage servers in your environment that have low workloads to be Veeam proxies as well so you get more value from your environment.
How are customer service and technical support?
Veeam customer service is top notch. Previously I have worked closely with them to request licensing and further information on their products and they have always answered quickly and politely or returned my call quickly. If it was on a scale of 1-5 I'd give it 5.
Technical support is exceptional at Veeam. Any issue I have opened with them has been dealt with quickly and within an hour I've had a support technician contact me. On a handful of occasions where I've had severity 1 calls open with support they have passed off support to their colleagues in Europe and later America to work on the issue with me further out of hours with a smooth handover. Normally with support teams this happens but you have repeat everything all over again but I've not had such an experience with Veeam.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Yes. I used to use products such as Symantec Backup Exec and Falconstor but switched to Veeam as it's designed for virtual environments, it's easy to use and lowers the management overhead, it scales easily and provides a stable backup environment. Right now I'm considering using Veeam to replace NetApp SnapProtect within our environment.
How was the initial setup?
The initial setup is really straightforward. It really is a next, next, next install and can be done by anyone. Some of the feature selection during the installation should be thought about in advance but it's possible to easily enable these later if you don't enable the up-front. Once the installation is complete you then need to add servers as proxies and point Veeam at a backup repository, add vCenter and create the backup pools and that's it. Ready, set, go!
What about the implementation team?
I've only ever done in-house implementations of Veeam. I have had discussions on occasions with Veeams technical team before installation of some more complex environments and they have always been insightful and knowledgeable and understood the capabilities of their products at an in-depth level. But normally the implementation was straightforward and didn't require any assistance.
What was our ROI?
We were able to recover our investment on Veeam within about 8 months. This was due largely to reduced licensing costs initially but the majority of the savings came from a reduction in the management overheads and the previous baby-sitting we had to do of our backup solution.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The original setup costs were in the region of $45k for a 24 host VMware environment. That was for the full Veeam Availability Suite which Backup and Replication is a part of. The day-to-day (Opex) costs we reduced from one staff member spending 5 hours massaging backups and replications to less that 1 hour a day.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
Before using Veeam I reviewed a number of backup solutions. These included Symantec Backup Exec, NetBackup, Falconstor, Acronis, Commvault and ArcServe.
What other advice do I have?
I would recommend getting your hands on trial version or even just use the free editions from Veeam to become comfortable with the console and see for yourself just how easy it is to manage backups. If you use the free edition you'll quickly want to use a full version so you can schedule backups and take advantage of some of enterprise features. Run a POC on some VMs and verify it's the right tool for you and see that the reviews don't lie.
I would also recommend reaching out to a Veeam Gold or Platinum Partner if you have a more complex environment and get your design put up on a whiteboard. While getting Veeam into your environment is the end goal a real focus needs to be placed on data migration and integrity. Your previous backup data needs to be accessible and recoverable and this is where the partners should be able to help. This isn't a recommendation just for implementing Veeam but for all backup solution migration. With Veeam however I'm sure it'll be as easy as everything else.