October 8, 2014: Today at the Las Vegas VeeamON conference, Veeam announced its first foray into the world of physical device backup. With the rather catchy name “Veeam Endpoint Backup Free,” the product, when it is released, will be able to back up a physical endpoint (read Windows-based operating system) to a NAS share or a Veeam backup repository.
First, a few things about the product:
- This product has only been announced. The beta is expected in November and the release in early 2015.
- It is not part of Veeam Backup & Replication or the Veeam Availability Suite.
- It can do only simple backup (overwrite or keep originals).
- It can do a volume restore or a bare-metal recovery.
- The backup can be scheduled, at logon or logoff.
- Backup can be trickle-fed during daytime activity and throttled at times of heavy usage.
All this and a little bit more: it is free. That is my favorite price; however, it does come at a real cost. Free products do not have enterprise-level support contracts to back them up (no pun intended). Veeam will do its best to support the product but offers no guaranteed response times or goals.
What do I think of this new venture? Personally, I think it is a good start. Veeam has an excellent product set for protecting your virtual environment, but that is also its most important weakness. The modern data center is not comprised solely of virtual machines: a significant subset of physical hosts and servers are still left around. Veeam is a company that seems to listen to its customers. After several years of insisting it would never allow backup to tape, as it was a dead technology, Veeam finally surrendered and integrated it into the version seven release of Veeam Backup & Replication. Perhaps, and I really hope so, this product represents just a toe in the water to see if there really is an interest in Veeam’s doing physical backups.
One of the last and biggest hurdles in getting Veeam into the enterprise is the fact that it does not do physical backups. This means that to use it, enterprises must have two disparate technologies to protect their environments. If I had a vendor that provided a heterogeneous solution, one that protected my investment in physical devices and also provided VMware-aware backups (understanding Changed Block Tracking, for example), that product would tick more of the boxes for selection than one that did not. I would have less operation overhead, lower training costs, etc.
To me, Veeam has two major hurdles to overcome to fit into the above vendor category: first, physical device protection, and second, universal backup support (no x86-based hardware). This product has the potential to close the first of those gaps if it is developed correctly. Adding things like incremental backups and point-in-time restores would be necessary to gain true traction. The ability to P2V on recovery to aid migration of those legacy servers into your software-defined data center would be icing on the cake. At first glance, and based only on press releases and the like, this is very interesting. I wait to see if it becomes impressive when Veeam merges into its core offerings a more feature-rich version with true support.
Tom Howarth is an IT Veteran of over 20 years experience and is the owner of PlanetVM.Net Ltd, Tom is a moderator of the VMware Communities forum. He is a contributing author on VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing ESX and the Virtual Environment, and the forthcoming vSphere a Quick Guide. He regularly does huge virtualization projects for enterprises in the U.K. and elsewhere in EMEA. Tom was Elected vExpert for 2008 and each subsequent year thereafter.