Back to school

It’s 10 am on a Monday morning, and I’m sitting here in the classroom at the first Veeam Certified Engineer (in short, VMCE) training in Italy; with me, there are nine other IT techies, in front of our teacher and his slide deck.

“Wait, you at the Veeam Training Course?”

I know what you are thinking here. I am a long time and heavy Veeam Backup & Replication user, my first installation was at the time of the 3.0 version, and after many blog posts and whitepapers, I ended up being hired by Veeam and appointed as one of their “Evangelists”. So, I am supposed to be the one knowing everything, and instead of listening I should go around explaining what I know to others.

Fair point, but… at the same time my experience has always been “hands-on” and only related to the environments I’ve worked with. Probably one of the biggest “fault” (joking obviously) of Veeam Backup & Replication is its excessive simplicity. People learn it very quickly because it’s really easy to use, and so they often forget to read the user guide. Up till a certain size of the infrastructure this could work, and I too did it several times to be honest, but beginning with version 6.0 and its distributed architecture, and then with the latest 7.0 and the new opportunities offered by the “tiered” backup approach, sometimes hands-on only experience is not enough.

Let me be clear: Veeam is a robust product, and as I love to say, “it’s able to survive its own admnistrators”. Our preferred quote has always been “It just works”, and this simple statement (around for several years now, and I think it came first from many of our happy customers) is a great praise for the quality we guarantee in every release.

But, nonetheless, when someone buys a product, he/she wants to get the most out of it, and this is only possible once you also learn the underlying technology and its concepts. This is true also for our software solutions, and there are several administrators that want to get the fine details, and how to use Veeam products at best.

So I decided to attend the training, as any other partner or customer would have done.


Three days of green

The success of a training course comes from both the quality of the content, and the level of interaction between people. As in many training classes, interaction is welcomed and encouraged, and during the three days of the training the engagement between attendants and the trainer was great. Many questions, many Veeam users sharing their own experiences, solutions, tricks, doubts. This edition was really lucky, since all the registered users were Veeam partners, and they already had a good level of experience with our products; but even in other classes with people who never saw Veeam products before, they can still take advantage of the interaction with other more skilled technicians.

After the people, it comes the content. As you would expect thinking about the relative percentages of Veeam products, the training is mainly focused on Veeam Backup & Replication, with a high focus on VMware vSphere environments. The beginning however is not what you would expect: the first topic is Veeam ONE. The reason becomes clear once you finish the first chapter: Veeam ONE is our monitoring and reporting solution and is included in the Veeam Backup Management Suite. It’s a great way to analyze an existing environment before deploying Veeam Backup & Replication. By using Veeam ONE, even with the Free Edition, you can execute a complete health check of your infrastructure, or your customer’s if you are a Partner, and then be able to fix problems before adding a new component like Veeam Backup & Replication. Also, the results of the analysis can be really helpful in designing your Data Protection infrastructure, by answering basic but fundamental questions like “what is the total size of my virtual machines?”, “Do I have spare compute resources to use virtual proxies?”, “What is the daily change rate?”, and so on.

Once Veeam ONE is deployed, the training guides you through the architecture of Veeam Backup & Replication. You learn about the console, proxies, repositories, WAN accelerators, and then you understand the several kind of jobs you can create, and the backup methods at your disposal; and for all of them, you also learn which you should use based on your scenario. Only when you have understood these basics, it’s finally time to deploy Veeam Backup & Replication, and try all the options in a live lab.

Yes, of course there is a lab, and it has been on of the most appreciated elements of the entire training. The training lab is pretty complex: enough said, it was the first time for me when a Lab Guide has more pages the the Training Book!

Our lab consists of 11 virtual machines. One of them is a “nested” ESXi server, plus you have a HP StoreVirtual VSA as a datastore for all your virtual machines. In total, the lab uses 21 GB of RAM and almost 600 GB of disk space.

And the effort my colleagues have placed in developing such a large and complex lab has been rewarded by all the attendants: I heard from many of them high praises to the quality and effectiveness of our Training Lab. There’s really no better reward for us than this!


It has just begun

The final release of our first official training is no doubt something we are really proud of, and the feedback we are receiving from attendants all over the world is a welcomed validation. Nonetheless, this is the very first version, the journey has just started, and there’s plenty to do to further improve it.

We already received constructive comments: some want more Hyper-V, some want more troubleshooting chapters, others asked for more design topics.

We are listening, as always: what would you like to see next?

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