Hi Everyone, last year was a busy year and it has been a while since my last post. Glad to found some time to introduce you to some underrated features with the upcoming Veeam release. Veeam v10 is right around the corner. If you follow the social media you will see great discussions around the new big bang, high gliss features like NAS backup, Capacity tier enhancements and so on. But v10 is much more! It is one of the biggest releases in Veeam history with tons of new features and enhancements.
With this post I want to show you my five favorite features that are not commonly discussed in the socials. Again, v10 will be huge and there are much more features under the hood. I will focus on my favorites.

#1 FastClone for XFS Repositories

I am pretty sure that everybody who uses Veeam is familiar with the Microsoft ReFS integration which is leveraging the so called FastClone API. This feature is a huge benefit to reduce the impact of synthetic and merge backup file operations on your repository. Furthermore it allows you to save space if you store GFS retention points on your disk repository. As FastClone was only available for Windows repositories in the past, this is one of the reasons why we see mostly Windows repositories, as primary backup targets, in the field. the good thing about Windows repos is that they are easy to manage and maintain. The dark side is that these repos are in most cases part of the company domain. If you got attacked by ransomware and it was executed by an user with administrator privileges it could be possible that your Windows repo will be encrypted as well. I don´t want to say that Linux systems are secure against ransomware, but it is clearly harder to attack them.

And this is the reason why I love this new feature which allows you to use the same FastClone capabilities on Linux repositories formatted with XFS. It will make the usage of Linux repositories in Veeam environments much more common. Furthermore it allows you to reduce license costs for repos.

The requirements to use FastClone on XFS repositories are quite simple: - Kernel 4.16 and later is required - format with reflink=1 is required - mkfs.xfs –b size=4096 -m reflink=1,crc=1 /dev/sdb1 - and you need a new active full backup to enable it

Fig 1. XFS FastClone option in the repository wizzard

#2 Flexible retention for primary backup jobs

As you all know we had to set retention policies for backup jobs based on retention points in the past. If you understand it right it is easy to configure, but from my field experience it was hard to understand for customers that came from legacy backup solutions where retention where based on days, weeks or months. In v10 you have the full flexibility to choose either between retention points or days of retention within the primary job configuration. This allows you a much better flexibility to design your jobs to your needs. From my point of view this is just a small improvement with a huge impact. I had many discussions in the past regarding this retention topic and how to configure it. I have many customers that are using Veeam to orchestrate hourly storage snapshots. If you want to keep them for a while, example 7 days, you need the calculate the exact amount of restore points to configure. So imagine you want Veeam to create a snapshot every hour and keep them for 7 days on the primary storage you have calculate 7 days * 24 restore points / day = 168 restore points. It was sometimes a bit confusing to deal with this crazy numbers of restore points.

Now you can simply switch to days of retention. In our scenario above Veeam will automatically keep 168 retention points if the days retention is set to 7 days and the backup interval is configured hourly. Easy going!

Furthermore you can now configure to keep GFS retention points (weekly, monthly, yearly) within in the primary job configuration. How cool is this?

Fig 2. flexible retention options in primary backup job configuration

#3 Backup Copy Job mirror mode

Veeam Backup copy jobs are quite common to transfer data to another location, on a dedup appliance or just to set a different retention, like GFS retention, for long term purpose. All in all the copy job works rock solid but I pretty sure you are with me if I point out that the configuration can be a bit tricky sometimes. Backup copy jobs are based on a copy interval. In this time window the job is allowed to transfer all necessary data from source to target repository. In most cases you just want to create an exact copy of the primary backup data to a different target. During the configuration you have to figure out how long does your primary backup jobs are running to define a decent start time for backup copy job. In v10 there is another option available for copy jobs, the so called mirror mode. This option makes the configuration much easier and more understandable.

How does it work? As you know the copy job is a continuous job. As soon as there is a new primary retention point is created the job will copy the data to the target site immediately. So you do not need to setup an interval again. One more cool thing about copy jobs in v10, you can now also copy transaction logs to the target site. This allows you to perform database point in time recovery operations even from the backup copy repository. Baaaam!

Fig 3. backup copy job mirror mode configuration
Fig 4. copy transaction logs

#4 Filter Jobs view

The Veeam user interface is really straight forward. Development and product management are spending a massive amount of time to keep the Veeam console as easy as it is. From my point of view this is a tough challenge, especially with the large amount of features which pop up in every release. The focus is on keeping the UI simple to not confuse the administrator. Especially in large Veeam installation where you have tons of jobs configured it is hard to keep the overview. You can sort the job view by name, repository etc. But all in all it will show you all the jobs. In v10 you have a great filter option inside the UI. You can define default or custom filters to just get the information you need at this point in time. I am really glad about this small and helpful thing. Many of my customers running Veeam in a global deployment where the VBR server is located in HQ. With this new filter capability they are now able to just visualize the jobs that they need. Small feature huge effect. I like it.

Fig 5. filter option in jobs view

#5 File level recovery audit log

Audit and compliance…. the nasty topic! Almost every company has to deal with it, especially if you are in finance or insurance industry. I know this topic is annoying for many of us but we can not hide. More and more companies get compliance checks from several auditors. They always want so see that every infrastructure action is logged or protocolled somewhere. Backup is a critical point in this big picture. As you know, as a Veeam administrator you can do some evil stuff. To be compliant we have to store every action that was done in a log or database and take it out if somebody wants to review is. v10 comes with the new feature, the so called Audit Log. This log can be stored on a file share or wherever you want to be compliant. All restore operations initiated by a user in the Veeam console or Enterprise Manager will be dumped into this log file. This is great because in case of an audit it will make you life much easier. Furthermore you can analyze this log if you suspect someone of stealing data. You can configure the audit log location in Veeams general options.

        - Full audit trace for file level recovery
        - Console & Enterprise manager
        - Export via Enterprise Manager or Export-VBRAudit cmdlet (PowerShell)
Fig 6. Audit log path configuration
Fig 7. View inside the audit log stored in the configured path

Last Words

To sum this post up I want to thank you for reading it. Next to the big features shipped with v10 these are my favorites. I can not wait to see Veeam v10 GA. But trust me, the long wait is almost over.

Stay tuned

Florian

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any further questions or thoughts