Modern backup seems to be such a hot term at the moment, and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. It reminds me of those shopping network commercials late at night (well I guess they’re 24 hours a day now ... I’m showing my age!) where the host is screaming about the product and how it will change your life. There is a lot of that going around, so how do you weed out what is good and what is not? Let’s take a look at ways you can approach this exact task.
The need for modern backup
First let’s start with, “why?” Why now, and why do you need to change? Well most of the time it’s a disruption that is causing the need to change. Something like “do more with less” is one of my favorite lines which ultimately is a nice way of saying you have less budget, but need more “X.” But the one I see the most is the disruption of change. IT is changing so dramatically, and our developers and app owners are finding so many new ways of meeting customer and company needs. With that comes a need to find flexibility in our data protection systems, to support new platforms, multi-clouds, fabric and data types. And it very quickly gets to a point that our current backup systems are not able to cope, and we are spending far too much time and resources to make them flex unnaturally. However, many feel the risk of moving to a new solution outweighs the spiraling cost to the company of the current one. So, let’s talk about risk.
Why modern backup or better the devil you know?
My mum loved saying this to me consistently, being a stickler for change. We sometimes just deal with it, as the discomfort of change can feel too much. Modernizing backup is the same process. We know we want to do it, we know it will save time and budget while being able to support anything new thrown its way, but we hesitate as a new system comes with risk. The risk of purchasing the right one, deployment risks, and migration risks. But I can tell you, with the right approach, you can reduce if not mitigate those risks and make your decision and deployment confidently. So what’s the best way to do this? To make this as straightforward as possible, Veeam recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to create a 2020 Modern Backup Buyers Guide where they boil it down to six key evaluation criteria.
- Comprehensive protection. Forrester recommends you seek out backup solutions and vendors that can protect the myriad workloads in a unified manner as organizations evolve beyond on-premises data centers to leverage multiple cloud services like AWS and Azure, while maintaining increasingly heterogeneous infrastructure.
- Recovery at scale. Forrester states that the bottom line of any backup solution is how reliably it can operate under different situations and if its recoveries can meet the needs of the business. The buyers’ guide recommends that organizations search for a solution that can automatically perform background recovery tests to ensure that recovery can happen when you really need it.
- Ease of management. The Forrester guide describes how managing backup operations should not add to the existing complexity with which IT administrators struggle today. Understanding the health, performance and capacity characteristics of the backup infrastructure is critical for day-to-day operations, capacity planning and long-term operational strategy.
- Automation and orchestration. Forrester recommends that IT teams should look for policy-driven data protection solutions that can affect the changes automatically. IT teams need modern data protection solutions that can integrate with IT orchestration tools such that workflows can execute backup tasks automatically.
- Data reuse and insights. The Forrester guide explains how the ROI of a modern backup solution comes not just from the assurance of recoverability but also from the ability to do more by leveraging the data within the backup repositories for any other business use beyond “just” retention or recovery.
- Security. Forrester recommends that organizations must secure the systems and data as part of their cybersecurity strategies. They point out that backups are essential, but it’s also important that the backup itself doesn’t get infected. Enterprises are susceptible to unexpected downtimes, but they may also be vulnerable to cyberthreats. These malicious attacks seek to disrupt businesses by attacking data or even holding it ransom.
How can Veeam help you through the modern backup buying maze?
When you look at it in the way Forrester has laid it out, the decision becomes a little easier, providing a great frame of reference to start making a decision. Forrester’s recommendations can be summarized by stating that a modern backup solution must work seamlessly with on-premises servers and the cloud, provide a comprehensive and easy-to-use platform to better handle complex data, and guarantee data will be available when and where it is needed. So where can Veeam help? Let’s take a tour on how Veeam would approach these six core criteria.
Veeam answers the call for comprehensive protection by providing one platform that enables users to create backups, snapshots and replications for entire production data sets and the ability to transport data easily between platforms, regardless of where the data resided last month, this month, or next. Veeam Cloud Data Management Platform protects data across on-premises physical and virtualized infrastructures, public cloud platforms like AWS and Azure, and SaaS services. It integrates with diverse storage platforms for snapshots and replications within the same data protection management framework, and supports modern workloads, such as NAS, distributed file systems, unstructured data and cloud-based data services.
Recovery at scale
Veeam ensures recoverability in several ways, but most notably by actually recovering your data within a secure “sandbox” and then confirming that the application started, the files exist, etc. These SureBackup and SureReplica features have been a part of Veeam for years. In addition, Veeam Availability Orchestrator takes that testing to another level by automating complex multi-machine recoveries, their functional tests and reporting.
Ease of management
Veeam has always been known for its ease-of-use, and has worked to help users reduce operational burden during daily monitoring or ongoing backups and create easier and more accurate restores. There’s no better example than the Veeam Explorer lineup in which Veeam empowers application administrators to recover data within their own frameworks, such as an email administrator who can recover mailboxes or messages using Veeam Explorer for Microsoft Exchange to recover from on-premises Exchange Servers and cloud-hosted Office 365 services with the same experience. Similar capabilities are offered for administrators of Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle, Active Directory, SharePoint, etc.
Veeam’s unique approach provides AI-driven infrastructure monitoring and diagnostics, including automated remediation of unexpected issues for critical backup and DR processes. Intelligent Diagnostics and Remediation Actions provide the built-in capability to identify and resolve common infrastructure and software misconfigurations and issues before operational impact.
Automation and orchestration
Veeam is proven to be easy-to-use for simple recoveries and enables orchestrated recoveries of complex (e.g. multi-layer) applications. Veeam Availability Orchestrator provides orchestration workflows, enabling IT to craft every element of the recovery experience and automate the consistent testing of recovery processes. Veeam understands that when organizations experience a disaster, automation is key to getting back online ASAP. Veeam provides key DR support across every step of the recovery process. Dynamic Documentation keeps all DR documentation up to date automatically, even as workloads are changed. Automated Testing can continually test DR plans using an isolated environment, ensuring restoration can occur as expected. And Recovery Orchestration takes the manual load of restoration when a disaster occurs, automating everything from a single workload to a full data center recovery. Veeam orchestrations can support different types of workloads too. You can also leverage orchestration for Veeam backups, replicas and third party array-based replication.
Data reuse and insights
One way that Veeam improves customer ROI is by enabling data reuse and re-hosting entire VMs or exposing individual storage volumes to secondary processes:
- Enable regulatory auditors’ access to data without affecting production
- Enable data mining and reporting from secondary data repositories
- Accelerate DevOps by providing a safe and updated copy of production data to develop new applications against
- Enhance cybersecurity preparedness and quarantine during backup and recovery processes
Veeam mitigates the risk of a patch crashing the production server by enabling you to test the patches or new applications on a copy of that VM first. Another common data reuse scenario is providing near real-time sandbox environments for application development and testing. Customers using Veeam for this have shown an 11% increase in developer productivity by simply reusing their latest backups and snapshots. Through Veeam DataLabs On-Demand Sandbox, organizations can automate the creation of extensive virtual environments that are isolated from production and fully capable of application development and testing.
Veeam may not be a security product in the traditional sense, but backup is a key part in any security strategy, especially against threats such as cyberattacks. Veeam enables customers to follow the 3-2-1 Rule, so your data isn’t susceptible to infection. That rule is to keep at least three copies of data stored on two different media with one of them off site. Veeam also offers extensive recovery protection using backup immutability from ransomware. This locks backup data that can be stored on premises, AWS or Azure from malicious attacks or encryption. This guarantees that if production data is compromised, restoration can be ensured.
And in case of an infection, Veeam ONE monitors data and alerts users when something is atypical. Veeam greatly diminishes the threat of cyberattacks with restore capabilities that recover clean data and use encryption tools for protection. Veeam has features that enhance cybersecurity preparedness before infection, during an attack and as part of remediation.
So to wrap this all up, while the subject of modern backup can be wide, the tenants for a modern approach to data protection and data management can be narrowed to make it easier to tackle. You need to be asking yourself how you fare today with your current backup solution and ensure that you are holding any new solutions that you are considering to this list. As always, if you want to talk to someone about this, we are always happy to help. You can drop us a line or talk with your favorite Veeam reseller.
Oh, one more thing. If you want to do some more analysis of your current solutions and where there may be gaps, we have just released a new gap analysis tool. This provides a pretty deep set of recommendations of the challenges to tackle on you path to modern data protection. Check out the "Data Protection Gap Analysis" report for yourself.