I have been a System Engineer for some years and one of the scariest traditions was Holiday Season patching. In short, it means that a lot of companies still think its ok to keep the systems an entire year running and do ALL patches (firmware, OS, software) in the week between Christmas and New Year. More often than not that did not turn out to be the best experience as ‘something’ will break. I cannot recall a single holiday season that the patching projects went actually better than planned. What I do recall are the Christmas or New Year’s eves that we were troubleshooting or recovering from previous versions.
So how can Veeam save your bacon?
There are 3 stages in the process: preparation – execution – recovery. Of course, we can’t really help you with the execution of your patches. But what we can do is help you prepare and if anything goes wrong we are your best friend to get you back home faster than anyone else.
Preparation: test your backups!
In version 5 Veeam added the vPower set of features. Among other things, this gives you the power to mount a virtual machine to the hypervisor from within the backup file. Once you are able to do this, you can run automated, scheduled tests to ensure this machine is recoverable. This is the Surebackup feature. You can group multiple machines (i.e. Domain Controller + Exchange) and if everything up to the application comes back online, you get the report that gives you the necessary green light. Think about this: some of your machines have not even been rebooted this year so you have no idea if this will go flawlessly unless you tested this! If anything would go wrong, make sure you know how long you’ll need to recover and get back on the table with the family.
Preparation: test your patches!
We are already talking about being afraid of recovery. What is better than fast recovery? NO recovery. How many times didn’t you have to troubleshoot issues after a software patch? Because you have vPower you can also boot those virtual machines from within the latest backup file in a sealed environment and truly test your patches before doing it in production. This is the virtual lab feature within Veeam Backup & Replication. You could even do it 3 times to be really sure the actual patching day will just be executing what you already knew. You will be back home on time to cook yourself.
Preparation: run your final backups (even for free)!
Are you running a legacy backup? You want some backup for your backup? Try our free edition of Veeam Backup & Replication and make a VeeamZIP of your most important machines. During the holiday season, you really don’t want to rely on those legacy solutions to get you back in hours or days instead of minutes.
Are your backup windows too small, even with your current Veeam Backup & Replication configuration? Make sure you have evaluated your backup environment. The scale-out architecture with multiple proxies, the more powerful engines of version 6.5 and the extra levels of deduplication can really help you create that extra backup you want just before you start your patching project.
Recovery: INSTANT recovery!
So even if you did prepare yourself by testing if your machines are recoverable, even if you tested all patches in our on-demand-sandbox, firmware patches and so on can go really wrong from time to time. It’s not the first time an entire storage array has to be re-initiated or hypervisor hosts need to be reinstalled. When something completely goes wrong you need to be able to go back in time as fast as possible. What if you could be back online in minutes without recovering everything first? Remember the last time you had to recover a 2TB SQL server? Imagine recovering your entire infrastructure. As already mentioned in the first paragraph: with Veeam Instant VM Recovery you can boot VMs from within the backup files. Let the actual recovery to your production storage be handled afterward in the background and go home, ENJOY THE FIREWORKS!