Since version 8 of Veeam’s availability suite backup and replication is delivering a deep integration with NetApp FAS systems. Right now several ways to backup virtualized objects are available. In this post we gonna look to the possible options and what the benefits of each of them are.
1. Backup from storage snapshot
When looking back for some years the first available backup solution for VMware was VMware’s consolidated backup framework (VCB) script to create an image level backup of individual VMs. Since then you could use mainly three ways to backup the data. You can go for network based backed (nbd), San based backup or hot add in most of the backup applications. Depending on your network interface, network based is the worst choice as it is using only around 60% of the ESXi management interface bandwidth. With San based you can speed up the backup as it is using direct San access to get the data out of the datastore. But all of the ways have the same problem. We are living in an IT-world where data is exploding. If you look to VMs it is common to have VMs with 1tb or more of disk space. Now the main problem with the current available ways is, that a VMware snapshot is created at the beginning of the backup and remains open until the job completes. In case of a 1tb backup this could be for a long time. The problem with that is that over the time the VMware snapshot is growing and the VM will get slow. And by far the worst point is that when the job is completed it takes sometimes hours to commit the VMware snapshot afterward.
To avoid that scenario Veeam introduced backup from storage snapshot (BfSS) in version 8.
With BfSS the way how it works is different. At the beginning there will be a VMware snapshot as it was in the past. But right after the VMware snapshot a NetApp snapshot is created on the volume to save the consistent VM state on the NetApp level. The nice thing is, that Veeam does not require any complex volume design or even raw device mappings to provide the application consistency. In a simple design you could have all your VMs (AD, SQL, Exchange…) in one volume and will get application consistency. When the NetApp snapshot was created successfully, the VMware snapshot will be removed and the data will be backuped directly from the NetApp snapshot. With that technology the time how long a VMware snapshot remains open is reduced to a few minutes instead of hours. After the backup is completed, the NetApp snapshot gets removed.
2. NetApp snapshot orchestration
The second way to backup with Veeam in combination with NetApp filer is to use Veeam as a orchestration and management tool only. That means it is possible to create application consistent VMware snapshots followed by the creation of an NetApp snapshot so that you get a 100% consistent NetApp snapshot at the end. This can be combined with NetApp SnapMirror and/or SnapVault technology to get the data to a second NetApp. So everything is staying within OnTap a Veeam is only used to be the orchestration tool. The nice thing on that is again that Veeam does not require any complex volume design or even raw device mappings to provide application consistent NetApp snapshots.