Ultimate FAQ for Scale-out Backup Repository

Veeam Availability Suite v9 has been out for more than 2 months now. Many users have already upgraded, and are embracing it as well as asking questions about the new version and its features. Among the new features, there is one we’re especially proud of: Scale-out Backup Repository. This one gets a lot of questions in communities and I’ve decided to address them by issuing the ultimate FAQ. This should answer the most common questions (if not, let me know, I’ll add your question and the answer) and help describe how Veeam’s Scale-out Backup Repository works.

Q: What’s Veeam Backup Repository?

A: It’s a place where Veeam Backup & Replication can store backup files. Technically, it’s a folder on a disk/storage, configured from Veeam GUI (or by PowerShell cmdlets). Veeam has full access to this folder, and can read and write files.

Q: What types of repositories does Veeam have?

A: As of version 9.0, there are 4 repository types Veeam offers:

  • Windows Server with local or directly attached storage
  • Linux server with local or directly attached storage
  • CIFS (SMB) share
  • Deduplicating storage appliance (EMC Data Domain, ExaGrid, HPE StoreOnce)

Q: Oh, wait! Where is Scale-out Backup Repository? Is it a separate piece of hardware?

A: Veeam’s Scale-out Backup Repository is a software object. It is a logical entity that groups multiple “simple” repositories (see above) into one abstract repository. Thus, Veeam Backup & Replication creates a pool of storage devices, summarizing their capacity and increasing their performance when set properly.

Q: Why would I want to have such a thing?

Backup repository administration can be a hard job. It requires a lot of resources from an IT administrator. Repositories have a fixed size, and space may not be consumed properly over time. Not to mention how painful micro-management is, and how difficult it is to plan for future scalability.

Using Scale-out Backup Repository allows you to reduce backup storage management, solving the issue of underutilized backup devices and improving backup performance. As a result, companies can reduce their investments in storages making IT administrators and business owners happy.

Q: Ok, how can I visualize this feature graphically?


Veeam before Scale-out Backup Repository
Figure 1. Veeam before Scale-out Backup Repository
Veeam with Scale-out Backup Repository
Figure 2. Veeam with Scale-out Backup Repository

Q: What kind of tasks does this feature support?

Backup jobs, Backup Copy jobs and VeeamZIP tasks can be pointed to this repository.

Replication (VM metadata), Configuration backup, VM copy and Endpoint backup are not supported as of version 9.0.

Q: Gotcha. So how can I create a Scale-out Backup Repository then?

A: In order to be able to set up such repository, you should create two or more simple repositories (actually it could be used even only one repository to start, but it would not make too much sense), then go to Backup Infrastructure and launch a Scale-out Backup Repository creation wizard. Provide the name of the repository, add necessary extents and define the placement policy.

Once you select the extents for this repository, all respective tasks using one of the involved simple repositories will be automatically reconfigured to use this newly created repository.

Q: You said something about policies. What are the policies?

A: The way Scale-out Backup Repository distributes backup files across multiple extents is set within the Scale-out Backup Repository policy. There are two policies: Data locality and Performance.

Data locality: All dependent backup files (from the same incremental chain) are placed in the same extent. However, the following incremental chain can be placed to any other extent.

Performance: Veeam Backup & Replication places incremental backup files to a different backup extent from the corresponding full backup file. This provides better transform operation performance as the I/O is distributed across the storage systems when it comes to this operation.

Even though the program attempts to follow these policies, it is flexible. If the needed extent is full or unavailable for example, Veeam Backup & Replication violates the policy and places the new backup file to an available extent. Better to violate a policy and still guarantee a successful backup!

Q: How does the extent selection go when a backup task starts?

A: Before a backup task starts, Veeam Backup & Replication applies a special algorithm, aiming to select the most suitable extent at this particular moment of time. Prior to selection, it checks the availability of backup extents, backup placement policy for this task, limitation for a maximum number of tasks that the extents can process, amount of free space at the extents, and presence of files from this backup chain at the extents.

Q: What happens if an extent with a backup chain/previous incremental file is down/offline when the task starts?

A: Veeam Backup & Replication checks the presence of the extent and fails the job if the extent is not available.

You can prevent this by enabling the “perform full backup when required extent is offline” option in advanced settings of the corresponding extent. This way the program starts over the backup chain and creates an active full backup file when the necessary extent is not available. Remember you are trading backup completion with additional consumed space with this option.

Q: Are there any service actions I can do with extents? What if I need to shut it down and replace the hardware?

There are a few service actions. You can put an extent in maintenance mode at any time. This means, that Veeam won’t start any new task targeted to this extent, and restore operations from files this extent contains won’t be available.

If you want to retire this extent from Scale-out repository, you can perform an automatic backup files evacuation once the extent is in maintenance mode. This operation will migrate backup files off this extent to other extents belonging to the same Scale-out repository according to previously defined policies.

Scale-out Backup Repository. Evacuate backups
Figure 3. Scale-out Backup Repository. Evacuate backups

Q: Anything else I should know about Scale-out Backup Repository?

A: Besides the repository itself, we introduced a per-VM backup files option (enabled by default) for each Scale-out Backup Repository. Until version 8, we used to have only one method — grab all VMs from the same job and store them into the same backup file. Now, we are able to create a separate backup chain for each VM belonging to the same backup job. This allows our solution to be more flexible in terms of storage utilization and improve the backup speed when working with storages in parallel.

Q: Oh, that’s cool but I’m afraid global deduplication is no longer an option. Is it?

Every new technology comes with some cost. It’s true that using the per-VM backup chain feature means the end of global deduplication across multiple VMs in the same job and that you should estimate about a 10% increase of backup size footprint. However, there are other areas where the feature pays off. According to our rough estimations, using the per-VM backup chain feature can increase storage utilization efficiency to 30% and cut your backup window by 50%!

Plus, you can always use deduplicating storage as a target for backups, including Windows Server with deduplication enabled. This way Veeam’s technologies will be complemented with storage’s post-process deduplication, giving you good performance results and storage savings at the end.

Q: What if I upgrade from v8 to v9, what will happen with existing jobs/chains?

We always follow the rule “no reconfiguration should be done within an upgrade.” It means, that upgrades won’t touch your existing jobs/configuration. Just after the upgrade you will be able to see a newly created Scale-out Repositories node in Backup Infrastructure.

Configuring a Scale-out Backup Repository and pointing it to simple repositories with existing data comes with a warning “jobs and backups using this extent will be automatically updated to point to this repository.” If the extent contains unsupported job data (replication, configuration backup), it should be cleaned from this data and the corresponding jobs should be reconfigured to another simple repository.

If you choose the “per-VM backup files” option, the actual split of backup files happens within the next full backup run.

Q: Great. What is the cost of this feature? What type of license do I need?

A: Veeam’s Scale-out Backup Repository is aimed for large companies with lots of repositories to handle. It’s available starting with the Enterprise license. Using this license, you’re able to create one Scale–out Backup Repository with a maximum of three extents. With the Enterprise Plus license, it’s possible to create an unlimited number of repositories, each with unlimited number of extents.

Q: We are a Veeam Cloud & Service Provider partner. Can we use Scale-out Backup Repository for tenant backups?

As of version 9.0, Scale-out Backup Repository is not available for such a scenario, but we’re keeping this in mind and considering to include this functionality to v9 updates.

However, you can already use Scale-out Backup Repository for internal backups, including your own VMs as well as customer VMs running at your data center.

If you didn’t find your question above, please post it below and I’ll extend the FAQ.

Helpful Resources

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