Agent management: Now in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3

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WOW! This is big. There is a substantial amount of new functionality in Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3. We are happy to report some big news that has been kept rather secret for a while with this update since this was first demoed at VeeamON 2017. Update 3 brings agent management to Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 NOW and Veeam ONE 9.5 Update 3; something planned for v10 initially. Support for VMware Cloud on AWS is also included in Update 3, which was previously announced at VMworld. Additionally, the storage integration with IBM Spectrum Virtualize and Lenovo Storage V Series announced last year is included as well. This blog post will tell you everything you need to know about this incredible update.

Agent management in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3

This also marks an incredible pivot point for Veeam. You have known us as the #1 provider for Availability for virtualized platforms by providing backup, replication and more, but now we are providing this experience for virtual, cloud and physical workloads. For the full rundown of what’s new; see Veeam KB 2353.

Agent management in Veeam Availability Suite

For those of you who have been watching Veeam for a while, this is a big deal as this was something we initially announced as being part of Veeam Availability Suite v10. This feature is ready and we want to get it out there NOW. Customers and partners have wanted this capability with the Veeam Agents in Veeam Backup & Replication. This means customers can manage Veeam Agents in a familiar interface, the Veeam Backup & Replication console. Additionally, Veeam ONE has some great new logic for the Veeam Agents as well.

Managing the agents in Veeam Availability Suite is more than just “physical server backup” – this is a broad capability paving the way for the experience you expect from Veeam for workloads in the cloud, as a virtual machine, physical systems and workloads running on alternate hypervisors, all from a proven console with ease of use like no other. Customers will immediately enjoy simplified central management, as well as reduced time and labor to deploy and manage agent backup configuration and deployment. Consider also that with Veeam, customers and partners can easily manage backups for tens of thousands of VMs, and now with Update 3, the simplified management of agents in the same console is the next benefit you can have with Veeam.

This capability is something that has been well thought through by our R&D teams, and the Veeam experience you have come to know and love will shine here as well. Let’s go through a few pieces of how this works by explaining some of the new capabilities.

We keep our classic approach — to start protecting systems, they need to be added to the Veeam Backup & Replication console first. With this logic, there is something for everyone. For a small IT shop, protecting a few physical computers can be done directly via a backup job or backup policy. These systems will appear under Inventory in the Manually Added predefined protection group. For the enterprise, protecting a large number of computers in automated fashion, we bring a new concept of protection groups. In both situations, this is done easily in the Veeam Backup & Replication console.

Protection group

Protection group is basically a folder with the scope of objects to protect. Protection groups can contain individual computers added by DNS name or IP address, Active Directory objects, such as organizational units (OUs), groups or computers, and a list of hosts from a CSV file.

There is also some cool logic in the group definition that would allow you to exclude VMs or systems that have been offline for over 30 days. VM exclusion is important because we still believe the agentless approach is the best to protect virtual machines, so we don’t want you to run into a situation where a VM is accidentally protected twice: once with Veeam Backup & Replication as an agentless VM image backup and a second time with Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows or Linux. If your hypervisor is not supported by Veeam Backup & Replication, you can uncheck the box and protect your virtual machines with the Veeam Agents. Excluding a system that has been offline for over 30 days will avoid Veeam Backup & Replication constantly trying to find and install the agent on the selected system when it may be inactive (such as a retired system that still has a computer account). And of course, it’s possible to exclude custom items manually. This exclusion logic is shown below:

Agent management in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3

Let’s think about Active Directory where computers can appear and disappear (or a CSV file which is constantly updated with new computers by some export script). This source will be rescanned periodically to detect new objects, update the information about the existing hosts and remove decommissioned hosts from the backup scope in an automated fashion. Protection groups solve this challenge completely by performing periodic rescan according to the set schedule. Moreover, backup agent installation and the following upgrades can be performed automatically through the assigned distribution server, which can unload all the network traffic caused by agent distribution from your backup server.

Once the protection groups are defined, you can perform backup. There are two types of entities you can create to protect your computers: backup job and backup policy.

Backup job

This well-known Veeam Backup & Replication entity should be used to protect computers with a direct connection to the Veeam Backup & Replication server. The backup job is executed on the backup server while an agent acts like a client and performs backup activity triggered by its master server. That said, backup jobs are aimed to protect mission-critical servers and Microsoft Failover Clusters.

Backup policy

This is a new way to protect workstations when the operational time is slightly unpredictable, and there are servers running in remote locations with a poor connection to the backup server. The backup policy keeps a template of job settings and automatically distributes this configuration to a newly assigned host with backup agent installed. Once the configuration is applied, the agent starts to perform backup activity on its own to the specified repository, so constant connection to the backup server is not required.

Agent management in Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3

Once the protection mode is scoped, it becomes a very familiar process of setting up all the options associated with a Veeam backup job: a job name, which systems (either a list or the protection groups described above), backup mode (entire system or selected drives), the target such as a Veeam Backup & Replication repository, application and file indexing options as well as the schedule. Everything you expect from Veeam is now used for managing the Veeam Agents.

Once the backup jobs run, they’ll be in the Veeam Backup & Replication user interface with the other jobs and easily managed where you want to manage backups. We’ll cover it more in a subsequent blog post, but there is one huge technology in Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows that will make incremental backups go incredibly fast: a new Changed Block Tracking engine that is optimized for server workloads and will be something you won’t want to miss.

Agent monitoring

Veeam ONE 9.5 Update 3 now provides the ability to have visibility into the agents from Veeam ONE. This is important as you can have 24×7 real-time monitoring, reporting and alerting for both the virtual and physical infrastructure.

Additional platform and device support

Since the last update of Veeam Backup & Replication, a number of new platforms have gone generally available. This means that we had an opportunity to put them through our QA process in time and prioritize their support with this update. Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 3 will include support for Microsoft Windows Server 2016 version 1709, VMware vCloud Director 9 and Microsoft SQL Server 2017. Additionally, 4TB disks are supported in Microsoft Azure; as well as Azure Germany and China service regions. LTO-8 tape devices are also supported!

VMware Cloud on AWS Support

At VMworld 2017, we announced that we will support VMware Cloud on AWS. This is a great technology from VMware that allows organizations to easily leverage a complete VMware solution in the cloud; and it could not be easier with Veeam to use. This will allow organizations to use familiar tasks like backup, replication and other jobs for the workloads running in VMware Cloud on AWS. One powerful use case is to replicate VMs from your on-premises infrastructure to VMware Cloud on AWS. A lot of options with this, all with the same powerful tools from Veeam!

Cloud Connect insider protection

This capability will allow backups held in a Cloud Connect service provider to be retained for a set amount of days after deletion; much like a Recycle Bin. This is an incredible resiliency that is an industry unique capability for cloud technologies to be resilient against mass deletion, ransomware kits, malware or other threats to the backup data that are risks today. The best part is this won’t consume the Cloud Connect quota and if there is an incident, the end user can contact the Cloud Connect service provider to effectively save their data if their Veeam consoles elsewhere have all of their backups deleted otherwise.

Data location logging

What is where? Do you ever ask yourself that question? This new capability is a property of Veeam repositories and other backup infrastructure objects that provides tagging the production and backup infrastructure with locations. This can be used to ensure data sovereignty compliance required by various regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

IBM Spectrum Virtualize and Lenovo Storage V Series Snapshot Integration

The latest integrated array is yet another example of Veeam providing more Availability to reduce the storage stress on production environments and achieve lower recovery time and point objectives through Veeam’s storage integration with IBM Spectrum Virtualize and Lenovo Storage V Series. This includes both Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots as well as Backup from Storage Snapshots.

You may wonder how the agent management capability in Update 3 is different than Veeam Availability Console. Veeam Availability Console will be the right solution for service providers and the right solution for a scenario involving many mobile or remote agents not connected to a network that Veeam Backup & Replication server has access to.

Extending Availability: Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 Update 3

Customers and partners have asked for it, and now they have it: Agent management in Veeam Backup & Replication is here. You can download Update 3 here, and soon we’ll have Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows 2.1  available as well as Veeam Agent for Linux v2. These updates will be on the Updates page.

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