A backup is a term that probably found its existence at the same moment computers got around.
The technologies around backups have evolved many times. Features such as deduplication, compression and automated backup verifications are becoming part of the standard feature set in backup software.
One of the latest trends I’ve seen, is using cloud-based storage, which will be my focus in this article.
The Importance of Backups
Ever since I’ve started in IT, a homelab was the way to go for me to gain more knowledge and experience. The complexity of my labs has grown as well, so building up a fresh one does take some time. Think of a set of Domain Controllers for Active Directory and DNS, but also a full stack of VMware products: vCenter Server, Platform Services Controller, vRealize Operations, vCloud Director, NSX and embedded systems to test with.
This quickly rounds up to about 10 VMs just for management and base infrastructure. Adding temporary systems, this can quickly grow to 20-30 VMs.
That’s why backups have become important, even in a small scale test lab environment such as mine.
Veeam Backup & Replication
I’ve always been a big fan of Veeam Backup & Replication, which has been running in my homelab ever since and have been using their solution for different employers and end customers. However, using cloud-based storage is not a technology by Veeam, so if you’re using a different backup provider, check out if they support cloud-based storage as well!
Being a VMware vExpert and sharing my interest for their products with the virtualization community, I’m lucky to receive a new Not-For-Resale key every year that allows me to use Veeam software for free in my lab.
Having a good piece of software doesn’t mean it performs well without compatible hardware. I used to backup my lab to a 2-disk Synology system, where a VM with Veeam Backup & Replication was running. The VM would crash easily and the performance was pretty bad. I went around looking for alternatives and did find something awesome: cloud-based storage!
Consuming Cloud Storage
After Google’ing for cloud-based storage with Veeam, I ended up on a feature called “Veeam Cloud Connect”. It basically means storing Veeam backups on online-based storage. This storage is offered to you by service providers and enables you to run backups without having local, dedicated backup storage.
One use case would be a test environment (like mine) where backups are important but budget is low. Purchasing a dedicated storage array for backups can be pretty expensive, and with nowadays internet connections, it’s probably as fast as backing up to a cloud storage provider.
Another use case would be running off-site backups to a cloud storage provider next to your local backups. You could save short-term backups locally (higher performance and faster recovery) and long-term backups (archival) on cloud-based storage.
Veeam Cloud Providers
When using Veeam, you’re going to need to check out which provider you want to work with. Veeam has a page on their website which allows you to search for specific features or provider location.
You can visit the Veeam Cloud Provider page here.
Some providers offer trial periods so you can see what performance you’re getting and if the service offering meets your requirements.
When you’ve found a provider to work with, they’ll share a server address with you and credentials to log in with. You’re going to need this when configuring Veeam Cloud Connect, which is described in the following paragraph.
Setting Up Veeam Cloud Connect
The following steps assume that you’ve got Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 already running in your environment. Also, make sure you have your Cloud Connect details received by your provider ready.
Fire up the management console and navigate to the “Backup Infrastructure” view. Click “Service Providers” in the left menu.
Next, click “Add Service Provider”.
Fill in the DNS name or IP address as instructed by your service provider and click next.
This screen provides information around the certificate and allows you to select existing credentials or create a new credential set.
After credentials have been set, you should see the cloud repository and configured capacity offered by your cloud provider.
Finalizing the wizard, connections will be set up and objects created.
The Summary screen should display that everything has been added successfully.
You should now see a new Backup Repository as available destination within Veeam Backup & Replication. Make sure you change your existing jobs to write to this new repository, or make a new one that, for example, copies data from your existing job to the cloud repository.
What If Your Backup Server Crashes?
I’ve tested this scenario in my lab. I deployed a new, fresh VM and installed Veeam Backup & Recovery on it. I followed the steps as shown earlier, and was able to see all previous backups created. So it’s fairly simple to get back up and running even if your backup VM has failed.
In terms of performance, I was able to get a throughput of 50 MB/s (the limit of my internet connection). This is just a home connection, assuming that datacenter connections are at least double that speed.
Also remember that Veeam is able to do deduplication and compression so actual backup data is much smaller. Additionally, incremental backups only save the changed blocks so this decreases the amount of time required to complete your backup jobs drastically compared to the first time the backup job is run.
If you’re interested in testing this solution for yourself, be sure to check out Veeam’s web page about Veeam Cloud Connect here.