How do we provide data protection and availability for physical Windows and Linux workloads? Let’s talk about Veeam Agents!
One of the questions I usually ask to customers, including the risk of almost sounding rhetorical these days is “Do you have a Backup strategy?” In the majority of the cases the answers are positive and close to the same level of the question. I’m then relieved to learn and proceed the conversation with another question: Do you have a Restore strategy?
It is at this point where the conversation is getting the right traction. In essence how could you determine the validity of your Backups if you fail providing either a verification mechanism or the ability to quickly restore from them?
Simply put the question around Backups is the ability to effectively recover from different types of disasters you might encounter. This is valid not just in enterprise environments but also with stand-alone devices. Now more then ever they can contribute to the everyday operations in corporate environments also thanks to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. In addition one more reason to think about a Restore strategy is to protect yourself from the increasing number of attacks that sadly during these days are proliferating including several forms of ransomware.
Last but not least a good Restore strategy should also take into account the Data Availability. Industry experts recommend the 3-2-1 Backup rule which states the following:
- you should have 3 copies of your Data
- stored on 2 different mediums (read devices)
- being 1 copy off-site
What I would like to cover in these series of articles is not just a way of protecting your data but also how to restore it , verify it and make it available. For this purpose this series will cover:
- Installing the Veeam Agents for Windows (this article)
- Configuring the Veeam Agent for Windows Backup
- Configuring the Veeam Agent for Windows Restore
- Use Veeam Backup Repository Targets
- Configuring the Veeam Agent for Linux Backup
- Configuring the Veeam Agent for Linux Restore
Ideally I would like to leave this article as a “living document” with various updates from time to time.
Introduction of Veeam Agents
Veeam has recently released an updated version of the Veeam Agents to protect both Windows and Linux workloads. These Agents can be deployed on both physical and virtual machines which means we are also able to protect Virtual Machines running in a Public Cloud of our choice (for example AWS and Azure). Both Agents are available with 3 editions: Free, Workstation and Server. For the Windows Agent it is possible to compare the different editions here whereas for the Linux one more info can be found here. At the time of writing there is a Limited Time Offer up to 6 months subscription for an unlimited number of installations over physical and virtual machines. There are lots of features that each edition supports which have been tailored to the most common deployments. What is interesting to mention at this point is that even the FREE Edition can benefit from a large number of Enterprise features. This is a great addition as we can benefit from enterprise technologies even using the Free version. I decided to install the Veeam Agent for Windows to protect my tablet which is a Surface Pro 3 running on Windows 10.
Veeam Agents Installation
The installation process is very easy to follow and wizard driven as shown in the next screenshots. Once accepted the EULA the wizard will check for required components and install them automatically if missing:
- Microsoft .NET 4.5.2
- Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Management Objects
- Microsoft SQL Server System CLR Types
- Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Express LocalDB Edition (this will be automatically installed)
The installation of the prerequisites is very quick. Next step would be for the wizard to install the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows binaries and folders.
At this point the installer is starting the main Windows service in the background named VeeamEndpointBackupSvc.
After the Veeam Agent Service has started the wizard will detect the external drives. They can be managed from a Control Panel within the application.
Upon first Backup has completed the Target destination will be automatically registered as a managed device.
On my Surface Pro 3 I have an extra SD Card which has been automatically selected to store the first Full Backup. Before starting this configuration it can be changed later on pointing to a different Device. In the case of the FREE version of the Veeam Agent it can read/write backups from local storage, USB media, File Shares and Veeam Backup Repositories. For the latter it is recommended to upgrade the Veeam Backup and Replication Server to version 9.5 update 2. In this instance I will skip the automatic configuration and proceed with the wizard.
The installation at this point is now complete. As an extra step we can also create a Veeam Recovery Media as per screenshots below. It is a safety measure and allows to start a recovery process should we lose access to the base Operating System.
This way we can restore an entire partition/volume whilst these are not active.
The installer will identify the mounted hardware. In case a new device has just been plugged in the refresh icon on the top right can become handy. What it is interesting in this case is the ability to manually input specific devices drivers when creating the Veeam Recovery Media. This will allow access to non-standard or less popular devices like discrete network cards, 3rd party USB or hard disks storage controllers.
In my case I have opted for a USB drive. So the wizard will ask to format the USB drive.
A quick summary before committing and we are ready to go.
Depending on the USB stick specs it can be a relatively quick process.
On the notification area there is a new icon to access Backup, Restore and Control Panel settings.
At this point as soon as we open the Control Panel since no license has been applied yet we are presented with the message below. We can just click “No” and continue with the FREE edition. It is always possible to add, revoke licenses at any time. This is also a good opportunity to take advantage of the Limited Time Offer for 6 Months!
From the settings panel in this case we can change interesting options particularly useful for mobile users. The ability to simply disable Backups over metered connections for mobile devices like a Surface Pro is very ideal. Likewise the ability to easily manage registered devices as Backup targets makes the management of rotated USB drive easier to achieve.
For all editions there is support and of course on different levels depending on the applied license.
Last but not least from the Control Panel it is possible to add and revoke licenses along with the ability to automatically check for newer versions online.
Installing the Veeam Agents for Windows it is a very simple process and the very same principles apply to both Physical and Virtual Machines. In the next article I would like to cover the steps for configuring the Backup. Once this part is covered I will review the option for Restoring data visiting the options also for Server Operating Systems running enterprise applications.