VMware vSAN File Services and Veeam

In February 2020, Veeam introduced enhanced NAS backup with the launch of Veeam Availability Suite v10. NAS functionality has increased in popularity as amounts of unstructured data (e.g. videos, photos, presentations, webpages) have increased. Managing disparate NAS devices and the vast amount of data residing on them has brought additional challenges for businesses, especially when you take into consideration the size of files from data sources such as surveillance video, medical records and barcode images. A major consideration for Veeam when deciding how to provide customers the best possible backup and recovery capabilities was not only how to support the uses cases for NAS today, but also what these large unstructured datasets might look like in the future.

VMware introduces vSAN File Services

It turns out Veeam wasn’t alone in considering the future of NAS functionality. VMware vSphere 7.0, released in April, brought additional capabilities for modern applications, adding functionality beyond what has become a traditional virtualized application platform. VMware vSAN File Services, included with vSAN 7, brings the capability to create file shares alongside block volumes on a vSAN datastore. All file shares are configured with both availability and performance through Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM). Utilizing NFS v3 and NFS v4.1 protocols, shares are easy to deploy, simple to create, and integrate with vSAN Object View and Health.

vSAN File Services — impact on Veeam customers

So how does the introduction of VMware vSAN File Services impact Veeam customers? As you may recall, at Veeam our NAS backup mission was clear:

  • Make NAS backup simple and powerful, maintaining the experience customers expect with Veeam Backup & Replication
  • Build a flexible solution that just works everywhere, even commodity hardware
  • Scale to protect massive amounts of data, and sustain reliability for even the largest enterprise organizations

Veeam has continued to embrace customer choice for storage via a software-defined approach, avoiding lock-in, especially as technologies like VMware vSAN evolve and adapt. Three key attributes differentiate Veeam-enhanced NAS backup and enable you to consider implementing new and emerging storage technologies within your business:

Flexibility: With many different NAS solutions, protocols, and versions available for consideration, Veeam can protect not only SMB and NFS shares, but also Windows file servers and Linux file server shares.

Changed File Tracking: Perform fast incremental backups of NAS environments, allowing you to easily achieve your backup objectives and maintain policies across your infrastructure.

Snapshot friendly: Veeam Availability Suite v10 brought the ability to perform flexible backups directly from storage snapshots created by enterprise-grade NAS devices on either primary or secondary storage, enhancing backup performance and speed.

If you’re planning to implement VMware vSAN File Services into your virtualized infrastructure, you will be pleased to know, it just works!

How does NAS backup in v10 work with VMware vSAN File Services?

You may recall with v10 NAS backup, Changed File Tracking was implemented, maintaining the footprint of the source file share and is stored in a cache repository. This cache repository keeps track of all objects that have changed between each backup, resulting in super-fast backup processing, including for vSAN File Services!

NAS backup supports the same range of different backup repositories as our image-based backups, including scale-out backup repositories. When focusing on unstructured data, however, safeguarding the ability to tier older file versions onto less expensive storage (e.g. deduplication storage systems or Object Storage) may be even more important. The ability to maintain short-term retention close to the production data set but then comply with regulations and retention demands through the public cloud can enhance longer-term retention capabilities while reducing costs.

Veeam Availability Suite v10 NAS backup also has the ability to store an offsite copy of your NAS data. This can be a completely different retention period (both longer and shorter), with a separate encryption key for added security, and can be used as a disaster recovery option when it comes to recovering your unstructured data.

NAS recovery using VMware vSAN File Services

Yes, the recovery mechanisms that were introduced in v10 also work flawlessly with VMware vSAN File Services.

Restore entire share

A useful option for catastrophic losses or major outages, allowing for a complete restore of the latest version of all files either back to the original location or to an alternate location with security and permissions intact.

Rollback to a point time

When the need arises to use the “last known good configuration,” this option is very useful to roll back any modified files since the last backup of your vSAN instance using File Services.

Restore individual files and folders

Like File-Level Recovery for image-level backups, this restore type provides you with the ability to restore individual files and folders either by overwriting the live system or keeping both copies. Simply choose specific restore points with additional visibility to see all available file versions.

Use cases

Veeam’s enhanced NAS backup capabilities offer you the ability to immediately incorporate VMware vSAN File Services into your backup strategy whether you’re a new or existing customer. As you continue on your Digital Transformation journey, the following use cases may be great places to begin incorporating vSAN File Services and Veeam:

Audio, video, and surveillance data

As the volume of this type of data continues to grow at unprecedented rates, there often is not a defined process in place to categorize or tag data, let alone adequately predict future storage requirements. The flexibility of easily adding a host to a VMware vSAN cluster coupled with Veeam’s support for VMware Storage Policy-Based Management to ensure proper backup policies are applied make this data type a perfect candidate for consideration.

Big data applications (e.g. Hadoop, SAP, Splunk)

Security, scalability and manageability are often cited as challenges to adoption of big data. These infrastructure-related challenges can be alleviated via the security, scalability and performance of VMware vSAN. Additionally, Veeam’s enhanced NAS backup coupled with application-specific capabilities for Oracle and SAP can help create a simple, flexible and reliable infrastructure that is cost-effective for embarking upon such a project.

Cloud-native/cloud-ready

As more VMware-based clouds emerge, there is a benefit to extending on-premises infrastructures to the cloud or creating new cloud-born applications. VMware vSAN storage can be used both on-premises and in the cloud, creating a simpler way to migrate data as needed. Veeam Backup & Replication can also be leveraged no matter where data resides, simplifying management and ensuring existing backup and recovery capabilities on premises can also be leveraged in the cloud, including for unstructured data sets.

Additional resources

To learn more regarding Veeam capabilities for VMware vSAN, check out this white paper: Veeam: Advanced Integration for VMware vSAN Storage Data Protection and the VMware solution page.

Get started!

Existing Veeam customers who have socket-based licenses are entitled to up to six (6) FREE Veeam Universal Licenses — one for every licensed CPU socket. You can use these licenses to protect unstructured data residing on VMware vSAN deployments leveraging File Services. If you’re not a Veeam customer today, not to worry. Simply download a trial of Veeam Availability Suite, including NAS backup, for free for 30 days!

Andy Sturniolo
Andy Sturniolo
Andy Sturniolo, a Solutions Architect for the Product Management - Alliances group at Veeam, helps customers and partners successfully plan, design, and implement strategies to protect their data around virtualization. Andy has over 16 years in the industry, and his work has primarily focused on infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Andy is based out of Ohio and is responsible for technical initiatives related to the Veeam alliance with VMware and Dell EMC. Reach Andy on Twitter.
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