Netapp VSC vs Veeam Backup Free Edition v8

By | November 11, 2014

I work in a predominantly Netapp environment, so a lot of our backup and recovery is based on Netapp Snapshot and Snapmirror.
When I started working in this environment, the VM and file restore methods were using manual and kind of circuitous.

Earlier this year we began transitioning to Clustered Data OnTap, we decided to re-evalute some of the methods. Part of the evaluation included using the Netapp VSC 4.21

Integration with the VMware Thick Client
Can initiate backups (snapshots) from client
Fast whole VM restores (uses snaprestore/SISclone)
Mount/VM snapshots
Individual VMDK restore
Roles are part of vCenter
Small/Light weight

Single File Restore request process was weird
Can only restore from snapshots initiated from within the VSC
If the VSC is down, then the backups do not occur.
Possibility of leaving flexclone backups mounted to hosts.

Other comments:
Single file restore for windows and linux mounted the vmdks directly to a target VM. For windows you can then copy the files off, for linux if you have LVM you had to do some manipulation to copy the files off. I can see advantaged and disadvantages for having the vmdks directly on a target VM.

There were various operational reasons we did not go forward with the VSC, but some of the things that always bothered me were the Cons, ESPECIALLY the the fact that VSC cannot restore from a native snapshot and that the single file restore was a very odd process.

Recently, Veeam released it’s v8 suite which includes Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots which can restore VMs and files/folders directly from Netapp snapshots. I was super excited when I heard about this as while watching Veeam’s presentation at Storage Field Day 5 because I wanted to see if it would correct some of the issues that I felt were in the VSC.

Install Experience
I have no experience with Veeam in the past so bare with me if some of my impressions are kind of noob.

I first installed Veeam Backup Free Edition v8 on a utility server that I had, but after trying to do my first restore the whole thing started to crap out. That’s when I first realized that this is definitely not like the VSC, this is a full application that has it’s own database and temp write space, it needs a decent amount of resources.

I uninstalled my first installation and installed it on it’s own VM. I noticed that it can install SQL and then install into a local database or remotely into a SQL DB. It seems to need some scratch space, so don’t skimp on the disk space.

You add each vCenter into the application with the appropriate credentials. These credentials are stored into some sort of local credential store and can be selected in other screens that ask for credentials. Once you add the vCenter it will scan it to find all of the VMs.

Next I added the management interface for the Netapp cluster. It discovered all of the SVMs on that cluster and all of the volumes. It then scans all of the volumes to find all of the VMs (by looking for the VMX files I believe). The fist time I did this on the original install it did not find everything but the new install found all of the VMs (registered and unregistered).

Simple client interface (old school thick-client)
Can select any snapshot on the datastore/volume and restore from it (backups don’t need to be initiated from Veeam)
Can initiate snapshots from Veeam and delete snapshots
Windows file restore is more straight forward and comes with a file browser to select the files to be copied back to the destination VM.
Linux file restore supports LVM with a nice browser, I didn’t get to the restore portion but the browser was nice.

Not integrated with vCenter, you have to go back and forth between vCenter and Veeam to validate what’s going on.
Scanning can take some time
No roles/permissions inside of the tool, it’s all or nothing. Not a big fan of letting some operations people delete snapshots.
Whole VM restore is done by mounting a flexclone as a datastore and registering the copy of the VM on the flexclone. You then have to sVmotion/migrate the VM to the production datastore (two step process). This seems like a missed opportunity from using snaprestore/sisclone.

Windows file restore copies the files from the server that is running Veeam to the target server (I may be wrong on this)
Linux file restore uses a proxy server (a stripped down VM) to mount the vmdks and then copy the files to the target server.

Overall Veeam V8 fills in some holes where I think the VSC faulters, with particular strengths around restoring from native snapshots and the restore browser.

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