Why you need Veeam to backup your cloud data

Veeam v10 was released earlier in 2020 and brought with it a slew of new cloud focused products and announcements. Throughout 2020, Veeam has enhanced it’s cloud portfolio, including an acquisition of Kasten to bring Kubernetes into the fold. Recent updates to Veeam Backup for AWS, the release of Veeam Backup for Azure and soon to be Veeam Backup for GCP have further cemented Veeam’s commitment to public cloud data protection.

While Veeam may not have a ton of name recognition in the cloud native space, they built an extremely strong foundation within the world of data center virtualization. Just like many other enterprises, Veeam is realizing that their “ACT II” requires a pivot towards public cloud and modern consumption models. Recent coverage from Tech Field Day 22 highlighted some of these updates. I spent time digging into these updates and contrasting them with their cloud native counterparts to find out where Veeam brings value for backing up your cloud data.

Veeam Backup for AWS

Originally released at the end of 2019, Veeam for AWS v3 is now available from the AWS Marketplace. The initial release of Veeam Backup for AWS focused on EC2 instances. AWS v3 adds support for RDS and VPC backup, along with an EC2 enhancement of allowing file level restore to the original file location.

Veeam Backup for AWS is available via the AWS Marketplace and is deployed as a separate EC2 instance. As of the latest Veeam Backup and Replication v10a, AWS v3 can also be pushed out and managed from within VBR itself. Supported AWS services can be backed up directly to S3 buckets configured as a Veeam S3 Repository. Backup data processing is performed by worker instances, which replace your Veeam proxies and data movers used with on-prem VBR. These worker instances only spin up and down as required, leaving a minimal consumption based pricing footprint.

ref: https://www.veeam.com/aws-backup.html

EC2 is the barrier to entry for cloud backup, but it is also the most “familiar” for organizations that are in the infancy of cloud adoption or operating in a hybrid model. That makes PaaS options such as RDS the next logical step. Both backup types draw from their VMware predecessor by utilizing API calls to AWS native snapshot services. An interesting addition to this is VPC backup, which makes plenty of sense if you’ve ever had to comb through VPCs / Route Tables / Security Groups to see why something isn’t working properly.

Unsurprisingly, AWS has it’s own service that can protect data across a number of services. AWS Backup is a relatively new-ish service that actually didn’t support EC2 backup until the beginning of 2020. With EC2 being fairly new, it isn’t quite as fully featured as its Veeam AWS v3 counterpart in that it isn’t capable of file level restores. AWS Backup also supports EFS, DynamoDB, FSx, Aurora, Storage Gateway and RDS, but doesn’t currently have VPC backup functionality.

ref: https://aws.amazon.com/backup/

Like other AWS services, it is consumed directly from the AWS console, which natively integrates with the resources you want to protect. It allows you to create backup plans, which basically say what is being backed up, when and with what retention. Backup data is saved into backup vaults. All of this can be done via a centralized dashboard in the AWS console, making it lightweight and easy consume, although limited in scope to strictly the AWS ecosystem.

From a surface level cost perspective, AWS Backup can range from $0.05 GB data stored / month for EC2 to almost $0.10 GB data stored / month for RDS and DynamoDB (US-East-1). There don’t appear to be any other costs associated other than your typical data transfer stuff and minimal cost for some restores. When running Veeam AWS v3, you will incur costs for the EC2 server running Veeam and worker instance compute time. From a storage perspective, regardless of backup type, all data is stored as Veeam objects within S3 at $0.023 GB / month (as of this posting). This significant savings from a storage perspective may in many cases make up for the additional compute cost. There is also licensing to consider, and Veeam’s newer universal licensing option (VUL) brings portability across all Veeam products. Veeam Backup for AWS is free for up to 10 instances, which makes it easy to PoC or possibly not require licensing at all if you have no more than 10 critical workloads to protect. Stand alone licensing is also available per instance beyond the free edition.

ref: https://vzilla.co.uk/vzilla-blog/veeam-backup-for-aws-free-ga

One great feature of Veeam AWS v3 is the cost estimator. Veeam integrates with current AWS pricing to calculate the total cost of running a backup policy. This allows you to make costing decisions in real time, rather than having to adjust based on monthly consumption charges.

Veeam Backup for Azure

The more recent addition to its AWS counterpart is Veeam Backup for Azure v1. Interestingly enough, Veeam Backup and Replication had ties to Azure much earlier than it did to AWS. Given Veeam’s historical partnership with Microsoft, it almost seems like the Azure v1 product could have preceded AWS. The stark reality is that AWS has the largest piece of the cloud pie, so it makes some sense to start there.

Veeam Backup for Azure is very similar in look and feel to the AWS product, and I’d assume that much of the leg work for basic functionality can persist across all clouds. Azure v1 is deployed via the Azure Marketplace, uses Azure Blob Storage as a backup repository and utilizes API calls for Azure VM snapshots. Azure v1 also requires worker VMs to backup and restore data. Cost estimation is available in Azure v1 as well, which is evident not only when creating backup policies, but when configuring your worker VM size.

ref: https://www.veeam.com/blog/new-backup-for-microsoft-azure.html

Azure VMs are the only service capable of being backed up with the v1 product, which allows both full VM and file level restores. While management/deployment is not yet possible from Veeam Backup and Replication, you can add Blob Storage repositories used by Azure v1. This unlocks the ability to ship backup copies elsewhere and also instantly recover Azure VMs to on-prem (VMware/Hyper-V) or even as AWS EC2 instances.

Azure does provide its own native backup product with Azure Backup. Similar to AWS, Azure Backup can protect Azure VMs (including some VM databases) and Azure Files. Azure Backup is actually capable of file level restore as well. It is managed primarily through the Azure Portal and requires no additional infrastructure. Monitoring and alerting is available, but the management of Azure Backup is mainly performed within the protected VMs themselves rather than a centralized management tool.

While Azure Backup doesn’t require additional infrastructure, there is a monthly cost per VM depending on the size of the VM. As of this writing, Azure VMs < 50 GB in size are $5 / month. VMs above 50 GB and up to 500 GB are $10 / month, with an addition $10 per 500 GB increment (East US). Storage consumed also comes into play, with cost increasing based on Blob Storage type: LRS -> GRS -> RA-GRS. In the case of Azure, both Azure Backup and Veeam Backup for Azure v1 utilize similar Blob storage. The costs for backup storage vs. regular blob storage seem close enough to call them even. This means that the biggest differentiator between the two from an cost standpoint come down to Veeam licensing vs. Azure Backup monthly / VM price.

Check out vEducate.co.uk for a great blog series that details the technical specifics around Veeam Backup for Azure.

What comes next

AWS and Azure are the obvious big time players when it comes to public cloud. Based on the year Veeam has had in 2020, it is easy to see that both Veeam Backup for AWS and Azure are moving beyond the basics and focused on expanding their feature set. There are plans to introduce a third cloud native backup product in Veeam Backup for GCP as well. Google Cloud Storage is already available as a cloud tier target in Veeam Backup and Replication, so the next logical step is taking the already developed cloud backbone and customizing it for GCP. At every step along the way, backup files use the same Veeam format across all products. That makes Veeam not only a powerful data protection product, but a multi-cloud migration tool as well.

Kasten is rather new to the Veeam portfolio and is currently available as K10 v3, providing native Kubernetes protection and multi-cluster support. All these public cloud integrations seem likely to come into play for the Kubernetes space as well. With each major public cloud having its own Kubernetes platform (EKS, AKS, GKE) and VMware Tanzu providing an easier hybrid option, it will be interesting to see how Veeam evolves within the Kubernetes ecosystem. Click the K10 overview below for an in-depth look from Tech Field Day.

virtualBonzo’s take

We all know by now that multi-cloud is not easy. The ever elusive single pane of glass is probably not reasonable in a hybrid-multi-public-cloud world. Veeam is still a leader in the data center virtualization space, but the growth of public cloud has meant an explosion of products and choices for customers. Not only do those choices involve where your workloads are running, but do your workloads even live on VMs anymore.

It still seems a bit like the wild west in the public cloud landscape. Vendors are competing with each other as well as the large cloud providers. While Veeam may not pull the same weight in this space yet, it is already bringing to public cloud the same class of product on-prem customers have grown to love. The hard part will be figuring out how best to integrate everything and possibly simplify what right now seems to be a disparate number of products. Veeam appears to be on a path towards staking its claim as a leader in data protection across all the clouds.

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