Veeam/N2WS – Using External Repositories


What is an External Repository?

Veeam External Repositories provide a means of integrating Veeam with N2WS.  But what is an external repository?  It’s really quite simple.

If I may, I’d like to point you to my previous post on which I detailed the steps to configure/enable the Copy to S3 feature of N2WS version 2.4.  An important step in that process is to create an S3 bucket for use as an S3 repository.  For the purposes of external repositories, it is important to remember that when an N2WS backup policy copies data to an S3 repository, it is stored in the Veeam VBR format and with VBR 9.5 Update 4, a Veeam server can view the contents of an N2WS S3 repository.  This may be oversimplified but a Veeam external repository enables a VBR server to access an N2WS S3 repository/bucket.  And once this connection is made, the VBR console can be used to both manage and restore data contained within an N2WS S3 repository.

Veeam external repositories allow you to perform the following tasks:

  • Restore guest files
  • Restore to Amazon EC2
  • Restore to Microsoft Azure
  • Remove backup data from external repositories
  • Create Backup Copy Jobs

Note: VBR does not allow an external repository to be the target of any backup jobs.  Only N2WS backup policies can write data to an S3 repository.

Creating an External Repository

  1. Open the VBR console and click Backup Infrastructure.  Right-click External Repositories and select Add External Repository1-addexternalrepository
  2. On the Name screen, enter a Name and Description for the repository and click Next.2-er-name
  3. On the Account screen, click Add to specify an AWS account with access to the N2WS S3 bucket/repository.3-addcreds
  4. On the Credentials screen, enter the AWS account Access and Secret keys and click OK.4-entercreds
  5. When returned to the Account screen, select the appropriate Data center region (the choices are Global, GovCloud, China), the preferred Gateway server, and click Next.  The Gateway server is responsible for handling ingress/egress requests that occur while working with the external repository data.5-clicknextoncreds
  6. On the Bucket screen, specify the Data center region in which the N2WS S3 repository bucket resides.  Once the region is selected, you should see all S3 buckets within that region.  Select the bucket created for the N2WS S3 repository and then click Browse to select a folder within the bucket.6-selectbucket
  7. On the Select File screen, you should see a file/folder that corresponds to the name you assigned the N2WS S3 repository.  Select that folder and click OK.7-selectfile
  8. When returned to the Bucket screen, check Use this password for encrypted backups assuming encryption was enabled when the N2WS S3 repository was created.  Click Apply to continue.8-folderselected
  9. On the Apply screen, click Finish when the external repository has been successfully created.9-apply10-erdisplayed
  10. To examine the data within the new external repository, click Home, expand Backups, and click External.  On the right-hand pane, you will be able to expand a given external repository to see its contents.11-viewingdata

Restoring Files from an External Repository

Remember from above that once we have an external repository, we can restore files, recover instances to Amazon EC2 and Azure, and if desired, backup copy jobs can be configured to copy the S3 data to a traditional Veeam backup repository.  Restoring files is pretty easy so we’ll start with that.

  1. In this example, I will be restoring files from a cloud-based Windows backup.  So within the VBR console, click Home, expand Backups and click External.  Right-click the backup from which you wish to restore a file(s) and choose Restore guest files | Microsoft Windows.12-restorefiles1
  2. On the Restore Point screen, select the restore point from which to restore files and click Next.13-restorefiles-selectrestorepoint
  3. On the Reason screen, enter a Restore reason and click Next.14-restorefiles-reason
  4. On the Summary screen, click Finish.  After a minute or two, a Veeam explorer window will launch as shown below.  At this point you simply restore your files and your done!  Nice and easy….15-restorefiles-selectfiles

Creating Backup Copy Jobs for External Repository Data

Let’s say you decided that you wanted to keep a copy of the external repository backup data on-prem and you’re wondering how to go about this.  Well, Veeam makes it easy for us in that we can use Backup Copy Jobs to perform this function.

  1. Within the VBR console, click Home, right-click Backup Copy and select Backup Copy | Amazon EC2 backup16-bcj1 
  2. On the Job screen, enter a job Name, specify a Copy interval and then click Next.
  3. On the Objects screen, click Add.  On the Backups Browser screen, you will see you external repositories and their associated restore points.  Select the repositories or specific instances you desire to have copies for and click Add.17-bcj2
  4. When returned to the Objects screen, click Next.18-bjc3
  5. On the Target screen, select the preferred Backup repository, the number of Restore points to keep, and customize any Advanced settings as necessary for your system.  Click Next to continue.19-bjc4
  6. VBR has introduced the idea of “locations” to help audit/control data migration within your environment.  The location option is really a tag that defines the geographical region or country in which an infrastructure component resides.  If the location tags for a source and target do not match, a sovereignty violation is triggered as shown below.  If I click Yes and continue anyway, Veeam will display this warning within the task session details AND it will log this information to the Windows event log so as to both inform and potentially alert backup and security administrators about data being moved across geographic locations.  In this instance, I have defined a location tag of AWS-NVA for my external repository but have not assigned one to my on-prem backup repository, thus a violation has occurred.  If I specified the location tag as USA for both, I would not receive the violation warning but would that be the best way to do it?  This is a great feature and I highly recommend that you implement location tagging, but not without carefully considering how you should do so.20-sovereigntyviolation
  7. On the Schedule screen, specify when the backup copy job is allowed to transfer data over the network and click Apply.
  8. On the Summary screen, click Finish to enable and create the backup copy job.

Final Thoughts

Veeam External Repositories provide a powerful yet easy means of integrating Veeam with N2WS.  To recap, Veeam external repositories allow you to use the VBR console to interact with N2WS S3 repositories to perform the following tasks:

  • Restore guest files
  • Restore to Amazon EC2
  • Restore to Microsoft Azure
  • Remove backup data from external repositories
  • Create Backup Copy Jobs

On this post, we looked at restoring guest files and creating backup copy jobs but let me caution you not to do something just because you can, especially when it comes to considering backup copy jobs.  If I would have enabled a backup copy job as shown, I would have incurred AWS charges for the data leaving their network.  Be aware that capabilities usually come at a cost and a good administrator should be able to properly evaluate its costs versus its benefits.

On the next post, I’ll go through the steps to restore an instance to Microsoft Azure so stay tuned!


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