There are two perennial truths that we continually see as IT pros: We want it all, and we want it now. Most recently, we all fell in love with virtualization because it allowed our datacenters to become more efficient, while also reducing our capital expenditures. We also enjoyed quicker service-delivery models (that’s a cloud term before cloud was even used in the industry!) and met our number-one goal: Keeping our stakeholders happy!
But not everyone necessarily changed how we did our backups with the onset of virtualization. Some of us changed and some of us have not. Yet.
There are a number of issues in play here as we try to improve this important part of our datacenter operation. Because we want it all and we want it now, deduplication is a top priority. This is a great topic here at Veeam, but it is also what ExaGrid is all about.
#1 sign that deduplication will make your VM Backups easier—The first indication that deduplication will make your VM backups easier is easier transfers. This means that transfers of any type (ExaGrid to ExaGrid share replication or Veeam file copy) are easier because they are made incredibly smaller by deduplication. While we love virtualization, it is likely that we have actually increased the number of server operating systems in our environment. Deduplication makes the portability of backups in all situations easier.
#2 sign that deduplication will make your VM Backups easier—Next, we’d be remiss regarding VM backups if we didn’t talk about the reduction of VM backup data sent during backups. As you know, there are many types of deduplication: inline, post-processing, source and others. One of the benefits of Veeam Backup & Replication combined with ExaGrid is that when we deduplicate VM data at the source (.VMDK or .VHD virtual disk file); we actually reduce our transfer burden. Sure, this is at the expense of CPU resources on the Veeam Proxy, but, although small, this is still a critical step to help reduce backup windows. Because we want it all and want it now, we also want to keep our backup windows small to minimize read duress on primary storage resources. Veeam leverages source-based deduplication by mapping out regions of the VM’s virtual disk file to apply deduplication before transfer and then it lands the data on the ExaGrid appliance. Together, these two techniques combine to bring the best of both worlds: reduced transfer burden and absolute maximum deduplication.
#3 sign that deduplication will make your VM Backups easier—The third indication that we need deduplication for our VM backups is our ability to increase our retention policies without doubling, tripling or even quadrupling our storage requirements. The real benefit of deduplication comes with deeper retention policies and additional full backups in the same deduplication realm (an ExaGrid share).
#4 sign that deduplication will make your VM Backups easier—Next, we all know that virtualization has made our lives easier in terms of deployment; the same goes for backups. VM templates lend themselves perfectly to deduplication. Further, when virtualization is done well, templates are also leveraged extensively. Chances are that all new VMs are deployed from templates. When this is the case, the deduplication potential for this data profile goes up A LOT. The figure below shows how this can come into play with a sample data profile of VMs from the same template being backed up and deduplicated:
#5 sign that deduplication will make your VM Backups easier—The fifth and final indication that deduplication will make VM backups easier is the ability to accommodate growth. Simply put, as the VM numbers grow, the opportunity for deduplication increases. No longer is there a linear relationship to backup-target requirements and number of VMs. While there are many factors involved here, one thing is for sure: when more VMs are backed up, more duplication potential exists. This can be the additional deduplication on an ExaGrid share or more VMs in a Veeam backup job.
Deduplication and virtualization both are classic examples of technologies where “Your mileage may vary.” With the right expectations and homework up-front; the reward can be great. What strategies have compelled you to leverage deduplication for your VM backups? How is your VM backup strategy different than your physical system backup strategy?
What have you learned in your journey? Share your comments below.