The ability to backup servers without an agent installed is very valuable. Many of our applications are customized by us, and may break with constant changes and updates to third party software and operating system changes. So the ability to integrate the backup solution into VMware for seamless backups is fantastic. Our users don’t know backups are happening, and it really becomes invisible.
Another feature we value is the ease of individual file restoration. Someone will submit a ticket for a file restoration, and we can have it finished within five to 15 minutes depending on the size of the file. Before, we would be figuring out which backup disk or tape had the server on it for that amount of time prior to even starting the restore.
Improvements to My Organization
Our company now has nightly backups, whereas before we only had weekly backups. It’s also allowed us to retire our cloud backup solution (HP Autonomy LiveVault), saving us about $40,000/year in storage costs. Since we completely control the backup environment, we’re able to have onsite backups, offsite backup copies, an archive, and even replication all through one interface. It’s made our infrastructure much more flexible, and in a disaster recovery situation allows us to resume business within hours instead of days or weeks.
Room for Improvement
Moving backup repositories and merging backup chains is either difficult or not possible as far as I know in the current release of Veeam Backup and Replication. This has made it inefficient to retire backup storage repositories, causing us to keep more backup files than we might otherwise do. This means we are wasting space simply to keep a backup for archive purposes, and I can see this being addressed with scale-out repositories in the future.
Use of Solution
Veeam has been in place for at least three years at my company, and I’ve used it here for almost two years. This has been across multiple rebuilds of the backup system to go from not useful to confident we can restore anything quickly.
We did run into a few issues of certain applications not being entirely compatible with Veeam, or requiring a bit of customization to our backup jobs to ensure they work correctly. This is mostly due to SQL express databases not allowing truncation during backup jobs, which isn’t necessary a fault with the Veeam software, but our implementation of other products in our environment
Stability has not been an issue when Veeam is installed on a physical server outside the virtual environment, but I would avoid installing Veeam on a virtual machine if you think you’ll be changing the CPU or Memory limits of the VM that Veeam is running. We found this created a very unstable installation for some reason, forcing us to move the Veeam installation back to a physical server. In some environments, a physical server is desired for direct SAN access or for limiting the impact of a backup server on the virtual environment, so a VM instance of Veeam may not be a consideration for many anyway. For those of you without the extra hardware to set up a dedicated Veeam installation, I’d recommend a set it and forget it mindset for the VM to avoid the possibility of performance issues.
It's been able to scale for our needs.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Veeam customer service and technical support have been fantastic. They’ve been very responsive, very professional, and have resolved every issue we’ve thrown at them quickly. One example is in the previous versions, there was an issue with rotating drives, and support provided a fix for us to use rotating drives for offsite backups within about an hour of us calling. Several other issues relating to database backups and log truncation have been resolved within at most a day or two.
The company previously used Symantec Backup Exec, and Veeam was already in place (although poorly configured) when I arrived. We also used HP LiveVault online backup, which was a very poor solution and required constant baby-sitting to be sure it worked properly. We chose to discontinue using HP LiveVault because restores took a very long time, especially Exchange restores, for example, we had to restore a mailbox of a terminated user that was never exported to a PST. With LiveVault, we had to download a 200GB .EDB file, mount it, and export the mailbox as .PST to get the 5 or so mail messages we needed. When we switched everything to Veeam and properly configured it, we were provided the ability to mount a backup and restore a mailbox directly from the backup, even if it's offsite. This proved to decrease restore times to at most an hour, and along with file-level restorations, SQL backup and restores, and the ease of ensuring proper backups for our entire environment, pushed us well over the edge in choosing Veeam as the product we trust for our backups.
The initial setup is very straightforward for a seasoned system/network administrator. You must create login credentials for Veeam in your VMware environment, and you cannot use Veeam without vSphere, so for someone new to VMware or Veeam, make sure to read the installation documents to ensure it goes smoothly. I didn’t have any major issues with setup.
I implemented our Veeam installation myself with minimal help from Veeam support. I definitely recommend a vendor team that will work closely with you throughout the entire process if you will be supporting the Veeam product on your own instead of Backup as a Service. The advice I have about implementation is to make sure you have appropriately sized backup storage and a dedicated WAN if using offsite replication or backup copy/offsite archive.
Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing
I believe it’s possible to work directly with Veeam, but we had our VAR handle it, which made the process fairly hands-off and easy. I recommend handling this the same way for almost any licensing, not just Veeam.
Veeam is the first backup solution I’ve used that’s designed for Virtual environments. With that disclaimer, I’d give the product 8/10 for out of the box functionality and ease of use. However, this is assuming there are no issues for Veeam in your environment, but we did have a few. This required several support calls with Veeam, which did somewhat quickly offer us a properly working backup system. Including Veeam support’s assistance, my rating would go up to 9/10, but this depends if you have a perpetual license with no support, or a subscription with ongoing support. The support increases satisfaction in this product, at least initially.
I’d highly recommend considering an offsite storage provider that supports Veeam Cloud Connect. We use SingleHop, which costs about $900/month for 7TB of online storage. This is expensive, but allows us to have our backups hosted offsite, secure and fully supported by Veeam. Also, make sure your local backup target is fast enough to support simultaneous writes and reads at a high enough rate not to eat into your production day, or at least minimize backup windows. It’s obvious to me, but maybe not obvious to others—don’t skimp on your backup storage, and don’t put your backups on your production storage device (SAN, NAS, etc.) It makes backups pointless in the case of a storage device failure.
Below is a screenshot of our Archive settings, which pull from production backups and keep weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly backups up to our retention policy automatically. It's very hands-off, which I love and it's great for auditors, as we just send them this screenshot and they check off the box about records retention and backups.
This is a list of our backups and backup copy jobs to show how we’ve set it up. Note our “Production Servers” backup says it last failed, due to an issue with our backup storage location not being fast enough and getting bogged down. I was working on this as I wrote this review.
Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
Network Manager at a logistics company with 501-1,000 employees
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