When Veeam Backup & Replication v11 went Generally Available on the 24th of February I posted the What’s in it for Service Providers blog. In that post I briefly outlined all the new features and enhancements in v11 as it related to our Veeam Cloud and Service Provider Partners. As mentioned each new major feature and enhancement listed below deserves its own seperate post. While these posts are targeted at Service Providers, the majority of these features can be levered by all types of organizations. In this post I am looking at improvements helped to solve the challenges around the restoration of files from Linux based VMs.
As a reminder here are the top new features and enhancements in Backup & Replication v11 for VCSPs (with links as created)
- Linux Backup Proxy Enhancements and other Linux Enhancements
- Data Integration API Enhancements supporting more platforms
- Continuous Data Protection for VMware Platforms
- VMware Cloud Director to Cloud Director Replication
- VMware Cloud Director Native HTML5 Tenant Portal, SSP Enhancements and 10.2 Support
- Archive Tier, Object Storage and other SOBR Enhancements
- Hardened Linux Repository for Immutability on Primary Landing Zones
- Enhanced Linux File-Level Recovery
- New PowerShell Module and RESTful API
- Veeam Agents for Windows and Linux v5.0 and Agent for Mac v1.0
Removing the Need for the Helper Appliance
Before v11, a helper appliance was required to do a file level recovery on Linux. The helper appliance is a packaged VM running a stripped down Linux kernel that has minimal set of components. The appliance is around 50 MB and requires 1024MB of memory and generally it take around 10-20 seconds to boot, once the files have been copied from the VBR server to the hosts. The Linux Help Appliance means that Linux FLR is a little more involved then recovering files from a Windows based VM where Veeam Backup & Replication (VBR) creates a mount point under the C:\VeeamFLR\<vmname> folder and mounts VM disks from the backup or replica to it. From there, VBR creates mount points to access VM disk content. VBR emulates their presence on the backup server as the backup file or VM replica itself remains in the read-only state.
For Linux, as mentioned, things work a little differently… from v11 we now have the concept of the helper host when starting a Linux File Level Recovery:
When performing file level restores, the following operations are done:
- If you have selected to mount disks to a helper appliance, VBR deploys the helper appliance to the virtual infrastructure (Optional from v11)
- VBR mounts disks of a VM from the backup or replica to the host selected as a helper host or helper appliance. The backup file or VM replica itself remains in the read-only state in the backup repository or datastore.
- Veeam Backup & Replication launches the Veeam Backup browser where mounted VM disks are displayed. You can browse the VM guest file system in the Veeam Backup browser and restore files or folders to the original VM or to another location. Also, you can enable an FTP server on the virtual appliance and allow VM owners to restore files themselves.
When you restore files or folders, the helper host (new in v11) or helper appliance connects to the VM over network or VIX API/vSphere Web Services if a direct connection over the network cannot be established.
- When you close the Veeam Backup browser or it is closed by timeout, VBR unmounts the contents of the backup file or replica from the helper appliance or helper host.
- Veeam Backup & Replication unregisters the helper appliance on the ESXi host (Optional from v11)
In v11, Linux FLR can mount backups to any Linux machine, which even includes the original target machine (though this option would be less used in Service Provider self service/tenant restore scenarios). The Veeam helper appliance will still be available and a viable option and restores are also 50% faster compared to the v10 file-level recovery appliance due to changes in the default network card (now VMXNET3) and SCSI controller (now VMware Paravirtual).
What this Looks like from the Self Service Portal
For tenants of service providers leveraging the self service portal, the above enhancements should be transparent during the process. With the addition of the native VCD Plugin in v11, the process is as seamless as ever, but also remember this can be achieved by accessing the Enterprise Manager SSP directly as well.
Depending on the configuration on the VBR server, a helper appliance will be used at this point, or the SSP will use the dedicated Linux host configured on the connected VBR instance.
For Service Provider tenant platforms, VIX will be used when a direct network connection can’t be attained.
Benefit to Service Providers
Being able to do file level restores without having to deploy a helper appliance gives increased flexibility and freedom of choice compared to the previous appliance based option. Pre v11, you were required to run a VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V host to be able to deploy the helper appliance for a file-level restore on Linux. Service Providers can take advantage of this flexibility to deploy and configure dedicated FLR Linux machines that are ready to handle FLR requests… whether that is triggered by internal support, or by tenants from the Self Service Portals.
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