Monthly Archives: May 2019

Cloud Tier Deep Dive Super Session On Demand!

Last week at VeeamON 2019, Dustin Albertson and myself delivered a two part deep dive session on Cloud Tier, which was released in Update 4 of Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 in January. I’ve blogged about how Cloud Tier is one of the most innovative features i’ve seen in recent times and I have been able to dig under the covers of the technology from early in the development cycle. I have presented basic overviews to more complex deep dives over the past six or so months however at VeeamON 2019, Dustin and myself took it a step further and went even deeper.

Part I:

The first part of the Deep Dive was presented as the first session of the event, just after the opening keynote. It was on main stage and was all slide driven content that introduces the Cloud Tier, talks about the architecture and then dives deeper into its inner workings as well as us talking about some of the caveats.

Part II:

From the first session to the last session slot of the event…to finish up, Dustin and I presented a demo only super session which I have to admit… was one of the best sessions i’ve ever been a part of in terms of flow, audience participation and what we where able to actually show. We even where able to show off some of the new COPY functionality coming in v10.

There are a few scripts that we used in that session that I will look to release on GitHub over the next week or so.. so stay tuned for those! But for now, enjoy the session recordings embedded above.

VeeamON 2019 – Highlighting theCUBE Show Wrap

Hard to believe that another VeeamON has come and gone… for us in the Product Strategy Team the lead up and the week is immensely busy… but this is what we live and breath for! Everyone came away from the conference extremely pleased with how it panned out and we believe it also was a success based on what we heard coming out of media, analysts and the general IT community through social media.

In this post, I want to comment on a great Show Wrap from theCUBE hosted by Dave Vallante and Peter Burris which I think highlights exactly where Veeam is currently placed (Act I)… and where we are going in the industry (Act II).

Veeam is not about bragging rights and lots of flashy announcements…

This is a great quote from theCUBE Show Wrap (video embedded below) which speaks to what we at Veeam are trying to achieve. We are not restrained by the pressures of potential IPOs and we are confident enough to continue to be aggressive in the market while delivering on our core values of Simplicity, Reliability and Flexibility.

To comment a little more around what was talked about in theCUBE show wrap; It was interesting to hear perspective from the hallways about how people where talking about solving problems… Veeam is creating opportunities to solve problems with the focus on the customer. That is what successful companies focus on!

The messaging that theCUBE talked about from what they saw at the event was that Veeam is all about Data Protection across wherever your data lives… Backup is where is starts! Veeam still believes this and is focused…while not over rotating on the larger vision. Lots of their competitors are going hard after data management… modern architecture… Veeam is not legacy, but growing… if not flourishing due to the focus it has.

It’s a big, complex market and everyone is going to fight hard for it. Focused R&D is a very important concept to focus on… Veeam isn’t looking to be everything to everyone which can result in a wide but potentially shallow feature set. We see this with our newer competition… the concept of fast iterative development can have its flaws and though at times we don’t release as often as others in the market, when we do release new features and enhancements they are focused and reliable… you only need to look at the Cloud Tier that came as part of Update 4 for Backup & Replication 9.5.

Veeam has done a great job of keeping their finger on the Pulse… Veeam has done a good job of navigating what can customers really do (around data protection) and not getting too far ahead.

It’s all about our ecosystem and who we partner with… giving our customers the freedom of choice through our agnosticity. If we can nail the ecosystem partnership and make it seamless then Dave Vallante believe that Veeam has the advantage moving forward. This is where our Veeam Cloud Data Protection Platform centred around Backup & Replication and our Storage APIs will come into play.

Veeam is taking an almost Apple like approach…give customer what they can handle… then give them a little bit more.

Some really interesting thoughts in the Show Wrap from beginning to end… it’s worth a watch and I believe backs up the general feeling of a VeeamON show well executed which backs our shift into Act II.

This tweet sums it up well:

The whole stream of what was recorded at VeeamON 2019 by theCube can be found here:

VeeamON 2019 – Mainstage Technical Session Recap and Video

Hard to believe that another VeeamON has come and gone… for us in the Product Strategy Team the lead up and the event itself is immensely busy, but this is what we live and breath for! Everyone came away from the conference extremely pleased with how it panned out and we believe it also was a success based on what we heard coming out of media, analysts and the general IT community through social media.

We did something a little different this year at VeeamON. Instead of having one long General Session Keynote, we split the general sessions into two parts… one being a Veeam Vision keynote delivered by Ratmir in the morning, and the second being a Technology General Session held later in the day.

The idea was to dedicate ninety minutes to showcase what we had released already in 2019 and then, take an advanced look at what was to come later in the year. The other thing that we wanted to achieve was bring back to the live demos to the VeeamON mainstage as we saw in 2015 and in 2017.

Session Breakdown:

It’s pretty rare in our industry for companies to attempt live demos during keynote presentations… the ghosts of Microsoft BSODs past seem to hinder the use of live demos these days, but that is not how Veeam and the Veeam Product Strategy Team rolls. To pull off 8 live demos without a glitch (4 of which running on Tech Preview code) is a testament to the confidence we have in ourselves and in the technology… it’s also a huge rush when everything comes off as expected.

That said, the Technology General Session is worth watching for those interested in what Veeam has delivered so far this year… and what is to come!

Released : Veeam PN v2…Making VPNs Simple, Reliable and Scalable

When it comes to connecting remote sites, branch offices or extending on-premises networks to the cloud that level of complexity has traditionally always been high. Networking has always been the most complex part of any IT platform. There has also always been a high level of cost associated with connecting sites…both from a hardware or a software point of view. There are also the man hours to ensure things are setup correctly and will continue to work. As well and that, security and performance are also important factors in any networking solution..

Simplifying Networking with Veeam

At VeeamOn in 2017, we announced the release candidate for Veeam Powered Network (Veeam PN) which in combination with our Restore to Azure functionality created a new solution to ease the complexities around extending an on-premises network to an Azure network to ensure connectivity during restoration scenarios. In December of that year, Veeam PN went generally available as a FREE solution.

What Veeam PN does well is present a simple and intuitive Web Based User Interface for the setup and configuration of site-to-site and point-to-site VPNs. Moving away from the intended use case, Veeam PN became popular in the IT enthusiast and home lab worlds as a simple and reliable way to remain connected while on the road, or to mesh together with ease networks that where spread across disparate platforms.

By utilizing OpenVPN under the surface and automating and orchestrating the setup of site-to-site and point-to-site networks, we leveraged a mature Open Source tool that offered a level of reliability and performance that suited most use cases. However, we didn’t want to stop there and looked at ways in which we could continue to enhance Veeam PN to make it more useful for IT organizations and start to look to increase underlying performance to maximize potential use cases.

Introducing Veeam Powered Network v2 featuring WireGuard®

With the release of Veeam PN v2, we have enhanced what is possible for site-to-site connectivity by incorporating WireGuard into the solution (replacing OpenVPN for site-to-site) as well as enhancing usability. We also added the ability to better connect to remote devices with the support of DNS for site-to-site connectivity.

WireGuard has replaced OpenVPN for site-to-site connectivity in Veeam PN v2 due to the rise of it in the Open Source world as a new standard in VPN technologies that offers a higher degree of security through enhanced cryptography and operates more efficiently, leading to increased performance and security. It achieves this by working in kernel and by using fewer lines of code (4000 compared to 600,000 in OpenVPN) and offers greater reliability when thinking about connecting hundreds of sites…therefore increasing scalability.

For a deeper look at why we chose WireGuard… have a read of my offical veeam.com blog. The story is very compelling!

Increased Security and Performance

By incorporating WireGuard into Veeam PN we have further simplified the already simple WireGuard setup and allow users of Veeam PN to consume it for site-to-site connectivity even faster via the Veeam PN Web Console. Security is always a concern with any VPN and WireGuard again takes a more simplistic approach to security by relying on crypto versioning to deal with cryptographic attacks… in a nutshell it is easier to move through versions of primitives to authenticate rather than client server negotiation of cipher type and key lengths.

Because of this streamlined approach to encryption in addition to the efficiency of the code WireGaurd can out perform OpenVPN, meaning that Veeam PN can sustain significantly higher throughputs (testing has shown performance increases of 5x to 20x depending on CPU configuration) which opens up the use cases to be for more than just basic remote office or homelab use. Veeam PN can now be considered as a way to connect multiple sites together and have the ability to transfer and sustain hundreds of Mb/s which is perfect for data protection and disaster recovery scenarios.

Other Enhancements

The addition of WireGuard is easily the biggest enhancement from Veeam PN v1, however there are a number of other enhancements listed below

  • DNS forwarding and configuring to resolve FQDNs in connected sites.
  • New deployment process report.
  • Microsoft Azure integration enhancements.
  • Easy manual product deployment.
Conclusion

Once again, the premise of Veeam PN is to offer Veeam customers a free tool that simplifies the traditionally complex process around the configuration, creation and management of site-to-site and point-to-site VPN networks. The addition of WireGuard as the site-to-site VPN platform will allow Veeam PN to go beyond the initial basic use cases and become an option for more business-critical applications due to the enhancements that WireGuard offers.

Quick Post – Installing WireGuard® Client on MacOS

For those that have been monitoring my Twitter posts over the past month of so, i’ve been hinting at some upcoming news around WireGuard and the research i’ve been doing by way of getting to know about what makes it tick. In a nutshell, WireGuard is a VPN protocol similar to OpenVPN or IPsec, but modern and more streamlined

WireGuard is an extremely simple yet fast and modern VPN that utilizes state-of-the-art cryptography. It aims to be fastersimpler, leaner, and more useful than IPsec, while avoiding the massive headache. It intends to be considerably more performant than OpenVPN. WireGuard is designed as a general purpose VPN for running on embedded interfaces and super computers alike, fit for many different circumstances. Initially released for the Linux kernel, it is now cross-platform and widely deployable. It is currently under heavy development, but already it might be regarded as the most secure, easiest to use, and simplest VPN solution in the industry.

This specific post isn’t about the installation and configuration of WireGuard in the context of a VPN server (Stand by for some news about that over the next couple of days), but a quick look at how to install the WireGuard Toolkit on a MacOS system. Unlike OpenVPN, that has clients for almost any platform you can think of, WireGuard is still in its infancy when it comes to stable clients.

Even the offical Installation Page state that a lot of the steps and clients involved are in the experimental stages. For me, on my MBP running Mojave 10.14.2, I was having issues installing the Toolkit from the Apple Store.

It wouldn’t install the client full stop. I’m not sure why exactly, but rather than troubleshoot… I decided to go down the tried and tested path of using HomeBrew to try install it. Below are the very quick and easy steps to install from the Terminal.

Once installed, you can start the desktop tray application by searching for WireGuard. The WireGuard Toolkit icon will appear in the tray as show below

From here you can Manage the Tunnels manually or import the configuration from a file obtained from a WireGuard Server.

And that’s it… the Client has a similar look and feel to the TunnelBlick OpenVPN Client I have been using to connect up to my Veeam PN network while I am on the road… maybe in that there is a clue as to why I have been looking at WireGuard… or maybe not.

Either way, the easiest way to install the WireGuard Toolkit client on MacOS is with Home Brew as shown above…quick, simple and no fuss!

WireGuard is a registered trademark of Jason A. Donenfeld.

References:

https://www.wireguard.com

https://www.stavros.io/posts/how-to-configure-wireguard

#VeeamON 2019 – Top Session Picks, Live Tech Demos and VeeamOn Party

VeeamON is happening next week and the final push towards the event is in full swing. I can tell you that that this years event is going to be slightly different for those that have attended VeeamONs in the past…however that is a good thing! This is going to be my fourth VeeamOn, and my third being involved with the preparation of elements of the event. Having been behind the scenes, and knowing what our customers and partners are in for in terms of content and event activities…I can’t wait for things to kick off in Miami.

This year we have 60+ breakout sessions with a number of high profile speakers coming over to help delver those sessions. We also have significant keynote speakers for the main stage sessions on each of the event days. One of the biggest differences this year is that we will have a dedicated Technical Mainstage Keynote happening on Tuesday afternoon which will feature myself and other members of the Veeam Product Strategy and Product Management teams showing live demos of the latest Veeam technology and a look at what’s coming in our next major release.

Top Session Pick:

I’ve gone through all the breakouts and picked out my top sessions that you should consider attending…as usual there is a cloud slant to most of them, but there are also some core technology sessions that are not to be missed. The Veeam Product Strategy team are well represented in the session list so it’s also worth looking to attend talks from Rick Vanover, Michael Cade, Niels Engelen, David Hill, Kirsten Stoner, Dave Russell, Jason Buffington, Jeff Reichard and Danny Allan.

Secrets to Design an Availability Infrastructure for 25.000 VMs
Edwin Weijdema

Architecture, Installation and Design for Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365
Timothy Dewin and Niels Engele

TOP SECRET: Session related to announcement
Mike Resseler and Kostya Yasyuk

The State of the Backup Market & Veeam 2019 Predictions
Dave Russell

Cumulonimbus – Cloud Tier Deep Dive & Best Practices *
Anthony Spiteri and Dustin Albertson

Veeam Availability Console Deployment Best Practices
Luca Dell’Oca and Vitaliy Safarov

Activate Your Data with Veeam DataLabs
Michael Cade

Technology General Session
Veeam Product Management and Strategy Teams

VeeamON Party
Florider

You can download the VeeamON Mobile Application to register for sessions, organise and keep tabs on other parts of the event. Again, looking forward to seeing you all next week in Miami!

CrowdCompass Speaker Link

Tribalism in IT… Why It is in our nature to not all get along!

When I was a boy, I started following the Essendon Australian Rules Football club…I was drawn to their colours and I was also drawn to the fact they had just completed back to back premierships. Since then, I have been engaged in running battles with my father, family and friends…all who support different AFL sides. I chose my tribe early on in life and that has resulted in battle lines being drawn every since.

People, by nature are tribal creatures…most of us strive to belong to groups that carry similar values, shared beliefs and also, the most primal desires of all…the feeling of belonging, security and safety. People form tribes… they always have… they always will. We all fight for our tribes and in what we believe in. Whether it be Coke or Pepsi, Burger King or McDonalds, Nike or Reebok, Apple or Samsung… the list goes on!

Work Tribes:

When it comes to work, tribalism becomes even more apparent. Even within work places we see tribes form between departments and even within the same groups… each tribe with their own agenda…their own political motives… but ultimately each person in their respective tribes wants to see that tribe succeed.

I watched a TED Talk a long while back around Tribal Leadership… it’s worth a watch for those that want to understand how people tick when it comes to tribalism. David Logan suggests that there are 5 Stages of Tribal culture… most of the population fall into stages two, three or four with the majority falling in Stage 3:

Stage Three: Tribal members are selfish at this stage. They are in it for themselves, and they are extremely averse to collaboration. Their attitude is “I’m great . . . and you’re not.”

Each stage has it’s own description but ultimately when it comes to Work Tribes, we are very good at taking that attitude of, I am great and you are not. Your software sucks…mine is better. We outperform your storage array.. etc etc

Vendor Wars, FUD, Trolling and the Notion of Can’t we all Get Along?

Anyone who operates in and around IT vendors knows of instances where things have been posted on social media that escalates to popcorn worthy viewing. Trolling is also something that happens quiet often and I will be the first to admit that I have been involved at times and also witnessed petulant behaviour that has a lot to do with protecting ones tribe.

We all walk a fine line when it comes to supporting our tribes… and for those who are passionate by nature, the line can sometimes be easily crossed. I have observed those who claim to be non tribal, less passionate and see themselves as neutral observers when it comes to trolling, arguments or FUD throwing. These are the people that will ironically join the argument while standing on their soapboxes and shout… “Why can’t we all get along!” … themselves showing Stage 1 or 2 tribal characteristics.

When it comes to defending our tribes… the tribes that put food on the table for our families… the tribes that help us achieve a sense of belonging and accomplishment in life … the tribes who we currently root for 100%… it should not be of surprise to anyone that competitive behaviour exists. There are always lines that are crossed, but that is one hundred percent due to the belief in our own tribes and the desire for them to survive and prosper.

I’m not excusing any behavior. I’m not condoning some of the stuff I have seen, or been a part of… but what I am trying to say is that as long as people exist, we will form tribes… it’s a very reptilian instinct that makes us want to defend our patches.

I know this is controversial to some… and that some people don’t like or condone the behaviour that we see sometimes, but the reality of the world in which we live in… especially in the IT vendor space… is that tribes will be at war… and people will do what they need to do to win. It’s not always desirable and sometimes the level of FUD is amazingly mind blowing. However, the one thing to remember… and the irony that is obviously apparent in the world of IT is that people change tribes often… people who where once your enemy are now your tribe members… this is something that needs consideration as we are always ultimately accountable for our actions.

At the end of the day, it is almost impossible for everyone to play nice…We are… and always have been tribal!

For those interested… the TED Talk by David Logan is embedded below:

Cloud Tier Data Migration between AWS and Azure… or anywhere in between!

At the recent Cloud Field Day 5 (CFD#5) I presented a deep dive on the Veeam Cloud Tier which was released as a feature extension of our Scale Out Backup Repository (SOBR) in Update 4 of Veeam Backup & Replication. Since we went GA we have been able to track the success of this feature by looking at Public Cloud Object Storage consumption by Veeam customers using the feature. As of last week Veeam customers have been offloading petabytes of backup data into Azure Blob and Amazon S3…not counting the data being offloaded to other Object Storage repositories.

During the Cloud Field Day 5 presentation, Michael Cade talked about the Portability of Veeam’s data format, around how we do not lock our customers into any specific hardware or format that requires a specific underlying File System. We offer complete Flexibility and Agnosticity where your data is stored and the same is true when talking about what Object Storage platform to choose for the offloading of data with the Cloud Tier.

I had a need recently to setup a Capacity Tier extent that was backed by an Object Storage Repository on Azure Blob. I wanted to use the same backup data that I had in an existing Amazon S3 backed Capacity Tier while still keeping things clean in my Backup & Replication console…luckily we have built in a way to migrate to a new Object Storage Repository, taking advantage of the innovative tech we have built into the Cloud Tier.

Cloud Tier Data Migration:

During the offload process data is tiered from the Performance Tier to the Capacity Tier effectively Dehydrating the VBK files of all backup data only leaving the metadata with an Index that points to where the data blocks have been offloaded into the Object Storage.

This process can also be reversed and the VBK file can be rehydrated. The ability to bring the data back from Capacity Tier to the Performance Tier means that if there was ever a requirement to evacuate or migrate away from a particular Object Storage Provider, the ability to do so is built into Backup & Replication.

In this small example, as you can see below, the SOBR was configured with a Capacity Tier backed by Amazon S3 and using about 15GB of Object Storage.

The first step is to download the data back from the Object Storage and rehydrate the VBK files on the Performance Tier extents.

There are two ways to achieve the rehydration or download operation.

  1. Via the Backup & Replication Console
  2. Via a PowerShell Cmdlet
Rehydration via the Console:

From the Home Menu under Backups right click on the Job Name and select Backup Properties. From here there is a list of the Files contained within the job and also the objects that they contain. Depending on where the data is stored (remembering that the data blocks are only even in one location… the Performance Tier or the Capacity Tier) the icon against the File name will be slightly different with files offloaded represented with a Cloud.

Right Clicking on any of these files will give you the option to Copy the data back to the Performance Tier. You have the choice to copy back the backup file or the backup files and all its dependancies.

Once this is selected, a SOBR Download job is kicked off and the data is moved back to the Performance Tier. It’s important to note that our Intelligent Block Recovery will come into play here and look at the local data blocks to see if any match what is trying to be downloaded from the Object Storage… if so it will copy them from the Performance Tier, saving on egress charges and also speeding up the process.

In the image above you can see the Download Job working and only downloaded 95.5MB from Object Storage with 15.1GB copied from the Performance Tier… meaning the data blocks for the most that are local are able to be used for the rehydration.

The one caveat to this method is that you can’t select bulk files or multiple backup jobs so the process to rehydrate everything from the Capacity Tier can be tedious.

Rehydration via PowerShell:

To solve that problem we can use PowerShell to call the Start-VBRDownloadBackupFile cmdlet to do the bulk of the work for us. Below are the steps I used to get the backup job details, feed that through to variable that contains all the file names, and then kick off the Download Job.

The PowerShell window will then show the Download Job running

Completing the Migration:

No matter which way the Download job is initiated, we can see the progress form the Backup & Replication Console under the Jobs section.

And looking at the Disk and Network sections of Windows Resource Monitor we can see connections to Amazon S3 pulling the required blocks of data down.

Once the Download job has been completed and all VBKs have been rehydrated, the next step is to change the configuration of the SOBR Capacity Tier to point at the Object Storage Repository backed by Azure Blob.

The final step is to initiate an offload to the new Capacity Tier via an Offload Job…this can be triggered via the console or via Powershell (as shown in the last command of the PowerShell code above) and because we have already a set of data that satisfies the conditions for offload (sealed chains and backups outside the operational restore window) data will be dehydrated once again…but this time up to Azure Blob.

The used space shown below in the Azure Blob Object Storage matches the used space initially in Amazon S3 All recovery operations show Restore Points on the Performance Tier and on the Capacity Tier as dictated by the operational restore window policy.
Conclusion:

As mentioned in the intro, the ability for Veeam customers to have control of their data is an important principal revolving around data portability. With the Cloud Tier we have extended that by allowing you to choose the Object Storage Repository of your choice for cloud based storage or Veeam backup data…but also given you the option to pull that data out and shift when and where desired. Migrating data between AWS, Azure or any platform is easily achieved and can be done without too much hassle.

References:

https://helpcenter.veeam.com/docs/backup/powershell/object_storage_data_transfer.html?ver=95u4