Veeam's SureBackup transforms VMware image backups

New virtualization technology verifies not only every backup but every virtual machine, while saving time, money, and storage

Veeam Software, a longtime player and provider of backup and data protection software for VMware virtual data center environments, has been running a promotion stating that the company was about to "change the way people look at VMware backup, forever."

Veeam has been working on a new technology for many months now, a technology simply known to outsiders as SureBackup. No other information about this technology had been released until today, when Veeam announced it had "developed patent-pending technology that removes the last obstacle to image-level backups: reliability."

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But don't be confused. Veeam SureBackup is not a new product. Instead, it is a collection of features with one significant new capability that will be made available in version 5.0 of Veeam Backup & Replication, expected to be released near the beginning of the third quarter of 2010.

Doug Hazelman, director of Veeam's global systems engineering group, said the company is announcing the technology ahead of the release of version 5 because Veeam believes the new capabilities will take some time for people to grasp and comprehend. They want to announce the technology and the information first, before the product launch so that people are ready and able to accept some of the new changes being introduced into the VMware backup space.

"What we're introducing is verification with Veeam," said Hazelman. "Verify every backup, every virtual machine, every time. We're not just talking about checking the integrity of the backup file, but also the ability to boot up those virtual machines and recover from them."

Just because a backup job completes successfully does not mean the virtual machine can be recovered and powered on successfully. Veeam maintains that even if the integrity of the backup file is verified, there is no assurance that the operating system and applications will start without errors or that data will be intact. The only way to be completely certain is to test and verify the recoverability of every backup. Unfortunately, doing this manually for every image backup would prove to be too expensive and time-consuming.

But Veeam SureBackup plans to eliminate those barriers and bring certainty to image-level backups.

"Most organizations periodically test backups of their most important applications, but this is expensive, time-consuming, labor-intensive, and hit-or-miss," explained Ratmir Timashev, Veeam president and CEO. "We've developed technology that makes it possible to verify the recoverability of every backup in a matter of minutes.  Not only does it allow organizations to embrace image-level backups to improve recovery time and recovery point objectives, it also enables them to comply more fully with 'reasonable measures' as required by internal and external regulations, such as HIPPA and SOX [Sarbanes-Oxley]."

This new capability will leverage patent-pending technology and what Veeam calls "recovery verification." Virtual machines can be powered on and operated directly from a compressed, deduped backup file. Normally, the verification process would force you to extract the entire image for verification, but here you don't have to, which also saves on time and storage costs.

And SureBackup is not just about verification. There are other uses as well, such as:

  • Restore any backup, from any available restore point, in an isolated sandbox environment
  • Universal application-item recovery -- OS and application agnostic and no agents or any special backups required
  • On-demand production replica -- Test patches/updates in an isolated environment and troubleshoot issues
SureBackup_howto.png

Don't worry -- backups are read-only. Within the isolated or fenced-off environment, Veeam implements a differencing disk so that when you bring up the virtual machine and it boots, any writes are made to a nonpersistent differencing disk. When you are finished with the environment, it will release back to where you need it in its original clean state.

The process is safe, and according to Veeam, it is also fast. As an example, Veeam said it was able to bring up a backup image of a 150GB Microsoft Exchange server with 200 mailboxes in less than two minutes. The key here is that this technology takes minutes rather than hours of manually trying to do the same functionality today.

"We are not changing the way we do backups one bit," said Hazelman. "But we are now giving you the capability to verify after you've done a backup, that yes, the backup is good. And when it comes time to recover that virtual machine, it will start up, it won't have errors, and the applications will be responsive. If it doesn't work, you can rerun the backup to get a snapshot at a different point in time."

Existing Veeam backup users will be happy to know that this functionality will also be backward compatible with version 4.0 backup files being created today. Veeam Backup & Replication version 5.0 with SureBackup technology is expected to be released at the beginning of Q3.

This story, "Veeam's SureBackup transforms VMware image backups," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization and storage at InfoWorld.com.

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