Veeam Backup & Replication v5: Unlimited File Level Recovery

With our award winning Veeam Backup and Replication 5.0 quickly approaching, I decided to start providing an updates on new and great changes to the existing features of our product. Today, I will talk about our multi-OS file level recovery functionality. For those new to the product, Veeam introduced file level recovery (FLR) for Linux and multiple other file systems back in February of 2009. Instead of taking the traditional approach of writing Linux file system drivers for Windows OS, we leveraged the capabilities virtualization provides to deliver a much more elegant and robust solution, featuring support of 13 file systems at the time of version 3 release over 1.5 years ago.

Our approach to multi-OS file level recovery is patent-pending, and is based on virtual appliance architecture. We provide a specially designed FLR helper virtual appliance based on a Linux kernel which has a minimal set of components, but is extended to be smart enough to be able to read data from multiple file systems and understand not just basic disks, but also things like Linux LVM (Logical Volume Manager) and Windows LDM (Logical Disk Manager) partitions. The appliance is very small in size (around 10MB), and takes just 20 seconds to boot, making the solution very light-weight and fast.

To perform file level recovery, our product automatically mounts the VMDK files of the selected VM to FLR appliance as virtual hard drives. Due to some magic under the hood, the VMDK files are mounted directly from backup files, without having to extract those VMDK’s first (similar approach to our instant Windows file-level recovery introduced in Veeam Backup 1.0).

Since we first introduced multi-OS FLR, we have continued to innovate and push the envelope of what’s possible with image level backups. With Veeam Backup & Replication v5 we’re introducing vPower, but we’re also making an update to our multi-OS FLR approach. While the existing method worked great because it allowed us to support multiple file systems, some customers had an issue with the fact that our solution required VMware Player in order to operate. While there’s nothing technically wrong with VMware Player, you can’t install it on a virtual machine; this meant that our customers had to have at least 1 physical server if they wanted to take advantage of multi-OS FLR.

With Veeam Backup & Replication v5, we’re moving away from VMware Player and on to ESX to run our FLR appliance. For our existing customers, this means that you no longer need a physical server to recover individual files from non-Windows file systems, all without any changes to the user experience. We’re also introducing support for additional file systems, including commonly requested ZFS file system (most common choice for Solaris), bringing the total number of supported file systems to 15.

While version 5.0 provides wizard-driven experience for 15 of the most commonly used file systems, with our new, patent-pending vPower functionality it no longer means you are limited to only those 15. In fact, you will be able to recover from ANY file system! As we have already demonstrated, our vPower engine provides ability to publish any backed up VMDK on our vPower NFS datastore, directly from a compressed backup file. With the VMDK files readily available, you can simply mount these VMDKs to any VM that can read the corresponding file system (including the original VM), and restore the required files using native OS file management tools!

Alternatively, you can mount VMDK directly to your workstation, and use whatever tools you are using today to read data from those file systems. For example, FLR from Novell NSS volumes can be performed with Portlock Explorer – a tool that most Netware admins already have installed and are using every day.

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