Tag Archives: Service Provider

Update 4 for Service Providers – Tape as a Service

When Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 Update 4 went Generally Available a couple of weeks ago I posted a What’s in it for Service Providers blog. In that post I briefly outlined all the new features and enhancements in Update 4 that pertain to our Veeam Cloud and Service Providers. As mentioned each new major feature deserves it’s own seperate post and today I’m kicking off the series with what I feel was probably the least talked about new feature in Update 4…Tape as a Service for Cloud Connect Backup.

As a reminder here are the top new features and enhancements in Update 4 for VCSPs.

Tape as a Service for Cloud Connect Backup:

When we introduced Cloud Connect Backup in version 8 of Backup & Replication we offered the ability for VCSPs to offer a secure, remote offsite repository for their tenants. When thinking about air-gapped backups…though protected at the VCSP end, ultimate control for what was backed up to the Cloud Repository is in the hands of the tenant. From the tenant’s server they could manipulate the backups stored via policy or a malicious user could gain access to the server and delete the offsite copies.

In Update 3 of Backup & Replication 9.5 we added Insider Protection to Cloud Connect Backup, which allowed the VCSP to put a policy on the tenant’s Cloud Repository that would protect backups from a malicious attack. With this option enabled, when a backup or a specific restore point in the backup chain is deleted or aged out from the cloud repository. The actual backup files are not deleted immediately, instead, they are moved to a _RecycleBin folder on the repositories.

In Update 4 we have taken that a step further to add true air-gapped backup options that VCSPs can create services around for longer term retention with the Tenant to Tape feature. This allows a VCSP to offer additional level of data protection for their tenants. The tenant sends a copy of the backup data to their cloud repository, and the VCSP then configures backup to tape to send another copy to the tape media. If there is a situation that requires recovery if data in the cloud repository becomes unavailable, the VCSP can initiate a restore from tape.

VCSPs can also offer a tape out services to help their tenants achieve compliance and internal policies without maintaining their own tape infrastructure. Tapes can be stored by the service providers, or shipped back to tenant as shown in the diagram below.

To take advantage of this new Update 4 feature VCSPs will need to configure Tape Infrastructure on the Cloud Connect server. What’s great about Veeam is that we have the option to use traditional tape infrastructure or take advantage of Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) which can then be backed by Object Storage such as Amazon S3. I am not going to walk through that process in this post, there are a number of blogs and White Papers available that guide you on the setup of an Amazon Storage Gateway to use as a VTL.

Once the Tape Infrastructure is in place, as a VCSP with a Cloud Connect license when you upgrade to Update 4, under Tape Infrastructure you will see a new option called Tenant to Tape.

A tenant backup to tape job is a variant of a backup to tape job targeted at a GFS Media Pool which is available for Veeam customers with regular licensing. What’s interesting about this feature is that there are a number of options that allow flexibility on how the jobs are created which also leads to a change of use case for the feature depending on which option is chosen.

Choosing Backup Jobs will allow VCSPs to add any jobs that may be registered on the Cloud Connect server…though in reality there shouldn’t be any configured due to licensing constraints. The other two options provide the different use cases.

Backup Repositories:

This allows the VCSP to backup to tape one or more cloud repositories that can contain one or multiple tenants. The can allow the VCSP to backup the Cloud Connect repository in whole to an offsite location for longer term retention.

The ability to archive tenant Cloud Connect Backups to tape can help VCSPs protect their own infrastructure against disasters that may result in loss of tenant data. It can be used as another level of revenue generating service. As an example, there could be two service offerings for Cloud Connect Backup… one with a basic SLA which only has one copy of the backup data stored… and another with an advanced SLA that has data saved in two locations…the Cloud Connect Repository and the tape media. 

Tenants:

This option offers a lot more granularity and gives the VCSP the ability to offer an additional level of protection on a per tenant level. In fact you can also drill down to the Tenant repository level and select individual repositories if tenants have more than one configured.

Again, this can be done per tenant, or there can be one master job for all tenants.

It’s important to understand that all tasks within the tenant backup to tape feature are performed by the VCSP. Unless the VCSP has created a portal that has information about the jobs, the tenant is generally unaware of the tape infrastructure and the tenant can’t view or manage backup to tape jobs configured or perform operations with backups created by these jobs. There is scope for VCSPs to integrate such jobs and actions into their automation portals for self service.

Restores:

VCSPs can restore tenant data from tape for one tenant or more tenants at the same time. The restore can go to the original location or to a new location or be exported to backup files on local disk

Wrap Up:

Tenant to Tape or Tape as a Service for Cloud Connect Backup was a feature that didn’t get much airplay in the lead-up to the Update 4 launch, however it give VCSPs more options to protect tenant data and truly offer an air-gapped solution to better protect that data.

References:

https://www.veeam.com/wp-using-aws-vtl-gateway-deployment-guide.html

https://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2016/08/backup-and-archive-to-aws-storage-gateway-vtl-with-veeam-backup-and-replication-v9/

Veeam for Service Providers…Ten Plus Years of Innovation!

I remember the day I first came across Veeam. It was mid 2010 and I was working for Anittel at the time. We had a large virtualisation platform that hosted a number of high profile sites including a well known e-commerce site. There had been a serious data breach on one of those site and we were required by the Australian Federal Police to restore the website logs from a couple weeks back when the breach had first taken place.

We were using a well known product at the time to backup our vSphere platform and from the outside everything seemed ok. All backup reports where green and we thought the backups where verified. To cut a long and painful story short, when we came to restore the website logs we found that the backups had not worked as expected and we couldn’t retrieve data off a secondary partition due to a huge unknown bug in the software.

That was the end for that backup application (and interestingly enough they went out of business a few years later) and that afternoon we downloaded Veeam Backup & Replication v4 and went to work pushing that out into production. We (and I have) never looked back from there. Veeam did in fact Just Work! At that stage there were enough features in the software to cover all of the requirements for a VMware based hosting platform, and over the years as v5 and v6 were released more and more features and enhancements were released that made Veeam even better service providers.

By the time I left Anittel and headed to Zettagrid, Veeam had introduced more innovative features like Instant VM Recovery, vCloud Director Support, Cloud Connect Backup, the Scale Out Backup Repository just to name a few. In fact Veeam impressed me so much with their Service Provider features that I joined the company where I now focus my time on working with Service Providers as part of the Veeam Product Strategy Team focusing on our cloud and service providers products and features.

While I could bang on about all the features that Veeam has released over the years to enable us to become a significant player in the Cloud and Service Provider space, a picture tells a thousand words…and an interactive timeline showing just how innovative and focused Veeam has been on enabling our Cloud and Service Provider partners to succeed is priceless!

No other vendor has this track record of producing specific Cloud and Service Provider features and enhancements over the years and as you can see over the last three to five years we have moved with the industry to continue innovating in the cloud space by accelerating feature development and bringing great technology to the market.

If you are a Cloud and Service Provider and not using Veeam…what are you waiting for?

https://anthonyspiteri.net/veeam-vcsp-reverse-roadmap/

What Services Providers Need to Think About in 2019 and Beyond…

We are entering interesting times in the cloud space! We should no longer be talking about the cloud as a destination and we shouldn’t be talking about how cloud can transform business…those days are over! We have entered the next level of adoption whereby the cloud as a delivery framework has become mainstream. You only have to look at what AWS announced last year at Re:Invent with its Outposts offering. The rise of automation and orchestration in mainstream IT also has meant that cloud can be consumed in a more structured and repeatable way.

To that end…where does it leave traditional Service Providers who have for years offered Infrastructure as a Service as the core of their offerings?

Last year I wrote a post on how the the VM shouldn’t  be the base unit of measurement for cloud…and even with some of the happenings since then, I remain convinced that Service Providers can continue to exist and thrive through offering value around the VM construct. Backup and DR as a service remains core to this however and there is ample thirst out there in the market for customers wanting to consume services from cloud providers that are not the giant hyper-scalers.

Almost all technology vendors are succumbing to the reality that they need to extend their own offering to include public cloud services. It is what the market is demanding…and it’s what the likes of AWS Azure, IBM and GCP are pushing for. The backup vendor space especially has had to extend technologies to consume public cloud services such as Amazon S3, Glacier or Azure Blob as targets for offsite backups. Veeam is upping the ante with our Update 4 release of Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 which includes Cloud Tier to object storage and additional Direct Restore capabilities to Azure Stack and Amazon EC2.

With these additional public cloud features, Service Providers have a right to feel somewhat under threat. However we have seen this before (Office 365 for Hosted Exchange as an example) and the direction that Service Providers need to take is to continue to develop offerings based on vendor technologies and continue to add value to the relationship that they have with their clients. I wrote a long time ago when VMware first announced vCloud Air that people tend to buy based on relationship…and there is no more trusted relationship than that of the Service Provider.

With that, there is no doubting that clients will want to look at using a combination of services from a number of different providers. From where I stand, the days of clients going all in with one provider for all services are gone. This is an opportunity for Service Providers to be the broker. This isn’t a new concept and plenty of Service Providers have thought about how they themselves leverage the Public Cloud to not only augment their own backend services, but make them consumable for their clients via there own portals or systems.

With all that in mind…in my opinion, there are five main areas where Service Providers need to be looking in 2019 and beyond:

  1. Networking is central this and the most successful Service Providers have already worked this out and offer a number of different networking services. It’s imperative that Service Providers offer a way for clients to go beyond their own networks and have the option to connect out to other cloud networks. Telco’s and other carriers have built amazing technology frameworks based on APIs to consume networking in ways that mean extending a network shouldn’t be thought of as a complex undertaking anymore.
  2. Backup, Replication and Recovery is something that Service Providers have offered for a long time now, however there is more and more completion in this area today in the form of built in protection at the application and hardware level. Where providers have traditionally excelled at is a the VM level. Again, that will remain the base unit of measurement for cloud moving forward, but Service Providers need to enhance their BaaS, R/DRaaS offerings for them to remain competitive. Leveraging public cloud to gain economies of scale is one way to enhance those offerings.
  3. Gateway Services are a great way to lock in customers. Gateway services are typically those which a low effort for both the Service Provider and client alike. Take the example of Veeam’s Cloud Connect Backup. It’s a simple service to setup at both ends and works without too much hassle…but there is power for the Service Provider in the data that’s being transferred into their network. From there auxiliary services can be offered such as recovery or other business continuity services. It also leads into discussions about Replication services which can be worked into the total service offering as well.
  4. Managed Services is the one thing that the hyper-scalers can’t match Service Providers in and it’s the one thing that will keep all Service Providers relevant. I’ve mentioned already the trusted advisor thought process in the sales cycle. This is all about continuing to offer value around great vendor technologies that aims to secure the Service Provider to client relationship.
  5. Developing a Channel is central to be able to scale without the need to add resources to the business. Again, the most successful Service Providers all have Channel/Partner program in place and it’s the best way to extend that managed service, trusted provider reach. I’ve seen a number of providers not able to execute on a successful channel play due to poor execution, however if done right it’s one way to extend that reach to more clients…staying relevant in the wake of the hyper-scalers.

This isn’t a new Differentiate or Die!? message…it’s one of ensuring that Service Providers continue to evolve with the market and with industry expectation. That is the only way to thrive and survive!