Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for FlashStack Data Protection with Veeam

Cisco recently released a Cisco Validated Design (CVD) for FlashStack Data Protection with Veeam. For those not familiar with CVDs, they are detailed reference architecture and configuration documents designed for solution implementors. This CVD is different because, for the first time, Cisco partnered with both Pure Storage and Veeam to do a full, end-to-end CVD on data protection of FlashStack with multiple backup storage options.

FlashStack is Cisco’s converged infrastructure for business-critical applications and workloads. Cisco chose Veeam for this CVD because Veeam has deep storage snapshot integration with the storage in the FlashStack, which is the Pure Storage FlashArray//X. The story would not be complete without including backup storage options, so three backup storage options were tested and documented: Cisco UCS S3260 storage server, Cisco UCS C240 All-Flash rack server, and Pure Storage FlashArray//C with Cisco UCS C220 rack server.

Pure Storage FlashArray//X

Pure Storage FlashArray//X is the storage heart of the FlashStack. Pure and Veeam developed the Pure Storage Plug-in for Veeam to provide customers with enterprise capabilities like:

  • Backup from storage snapshot
  • Snapshot orchestration
  • Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots
  • On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots

With these capabilities, customers can flexibly protect and recover their data as frequently as needed with minimal impact on the production FlashStack environment. Veeam administrators can do all this within the Veeam Console user interface, whether they are working with backups or Veeam orchestrated storage snapshots, they will use the same consistent Veeam UI, so there will be no learning curve to take advantage of these powerful features.

One point that can be easily overlooked is Veeam’s capabilities around data reuse. On-Demand Sandbox is a feature of Veeam DataLabs, which is a set of powerful tools that provide a range of capabilities, including the ability to automate backup recovery testing (SureBackup), test backups for malicious malware before restoring (Secure Restore), or the ability to use backups and storage snapshots for data reuse. Some popular use cases for data reuse with On-Demand Sandbox are test, dev and security forensics. Just like with Veeam backup and recovery, whether Veeam administrators are leveraging data reuse with backups or storage snapshots, they use the same consistent Veeam UI.

Customers want the flexibility to choose the right data center equipment that meet their needs. To that end, three backup storage options were tested and documented as part of this CVD. The choices include all-flash and disk, internal and external storage, and support for Linux or MS Windows operating systems.

All-flash options include the Pure Storage FlashArray//C with a Cisco C220 rack server and the Cisco C240 All-Flash rack server. For customers looking for disk-based backup storage, the Cisco S3260 is included in the CVD. Each of these options performed well in testing and should be considered when replacing legacy backup storage environments.

FlashArray//C with the C220 server

The FlashArray//C with the C220 server provides flash performance for backup and recovery, with the ability to scale-up, by adding more storage, and to scale-out, by adding more FlashArray//C arrays to Veeam’s Scale-out Backup Repository (SOBR). FlashArray//C’s Purity software provides additional data reduction, and immutable SafeMode snapshots to protect the Veeam backup repository data. The FlashArray//C with the C220 server supports Veeam’s Hardened Linux Repository for backup immutability.

Cisco C240 All-flash rack server

The Cisco C240 All-flash rack server provides flash performance for backup and recovery, with a modular, scale-out architecture. The C240 supports Veeam’s Hardened Linux Repository for backup immutability.

Cisco S3260 disk-based storage server

The Cisco S3260 storage server is a disk-based option that provides high-density and high-performance for backup and recovery. The S3260 can scale-up by adding more drives or scale-out by leveraging Veeam’s Scale-out Backup Repository (SOBR). The S3260 supports Veeam’s Hardened Linux Repository for backup immutability.

Configuration, deployment, maintenance and support

One of the strengths of the production and backup infrastructure options that make up this solution is that they include Cisco Intersight, which reduces cost of ownership, simplifies management, and delivers consistent policy-based deployments and scalability. Cisco Intersight is a Software as a Service (SaaS) infrastructure lifecycle management platform that delivers simplified configuration, deployment, maintenance and support.

No conversation about data protection is complete without discussing detection and mitigation of ransomware. It seems like there are new headlines every day about another organization paying multi-million-dollar ransom to regain access to their data. This must stop! Fighting the scourge of ransomware involves much more than protecting your backup data, but when all the other protections have been breached, it is backup data that is the last resort for organizations to recover from without paying ransom to criminals. Together Veeam, Cisco and Pure Storage offer robust capabilities to help protect against and recover from ransomware, including:

  • Backup immutability options like Veeam Hardened Linux Repository, S3 Object Lock support and Pure Storage SafeMode snapshots.
  • Monitoring and alerting of suspicious ransomware behavior with Veeam ONE
  • Very high restore speed when you need to recover entire workloads of impacted servers
  • The ability to ensure ransomware infections are not being reintroduced back into production with Secure Restore


With the FlashStack Data Protection with Veeam CVD, Veeam, Cisco and Pure Storage provide robust capabilities and best practices for the three backup storage options to provide customers with the confidence they need to be able to recover quickly from ransomware, or any other outage.

Be sure to check out these additional resources for more details:

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