Veeam Application Groups are an essential component used by both SureBackup and DataLabs configurations jobs. In particular, Veeam Application Groups allow to create a logical grouping of all the server required to satisfy particular dependencies on services and components.
For example assuming a developer needs to apply specific updates or customizations to a particular SharePoint environment. Ideally these should not be deployed into any production environment prior to passing a quality test in DEV and UAT (User Acceptance Test) environments. And maybe the UAT environment is not even available..
As far as the developer is concerned all is required is access to the SharePoint environment. How can Veeam Application Groups help?
The SharePoint Application relies on important network and system dependencies. Services like Active Directory, DNS, SQL and more are necessary to the SharePoint Web Applications to work as expected.
Veeam Application Groups allow to create groups of resources to satisfy these dependencies and can be used by both SureBackup jobs and Veeam DataLabs by mean of On-Demand Sandbox configurations. In the first case the Veeam Application Groups are used to verify an application and the group of all the machines required for its correct functioning, as Microsoft SharePoint for example. In the latter case the Veeam Application Groups serve to create an instance of the selected application together with the required components. All running in an isolated environment. In this case the developer can access a specific point in time backup of the SharePoint application in a fully isolated environment along with AD, DNS and SQL. Everything is managed by the hypervisor of choice and orchestrated by Veeam Backup Server.
For each one the additional components part of the Veeam Application Groups it is possible to specify verification options like data block verification, ping host and heartbeat check by default plus built-in scripts based on roles and even custom ones.
So in summary the major benefit of using Veeam Application Groups with DataLabs is the ability to spin up pretty much any point in time restore into an isolated environment together with its dependencies that can be used for multiple purposes. If desired all changes to the isolated environment will be automatically deleted as soon as the Veeam DataLabs job is completed.
In addition, another great feature for the Veeam Application Groups is the following: the ability to select machines to add from Backups, Replicas and even Storage Snapshots. Being the latter the most beneficial as reading data from a volume not necessarily sitting on the Primary Storage Array where the Production virtual machines are running.
There are really plenty of advantages when using the Veeam Application Groups as shown in the next steps about their configuration.
Quick overview of Veeam Application Groups
This article covers the scenario to create simple Veeam Application Groups. For example in this case a single Linux Ubuntu VM. From the Veeam Backup Server Console > Backup Infrastructure > SureBackup the option to create the Application Group.
Next step is to select the main machine to verify or start in an isolated environment by mean of the Virtual Lab. This screen also provides a quick view about the SureBackup Role and how much Memory RAM should be allocated to the machine. In some cases when testing machines not all allocated Memory to the VM is required. When adding a VM this can be done from a Backup, Replica and even Storage Snapshots. Similarly to the Microsoft SharePoint example should the Ubuntu VM depend on other machines these can be added here. For each one of them the Application Group allows to have separate settings as shown later.
From the Edit button the option to select built-in roles and even custom ones.
When adding multiple VMs it is possible to tweak parameters for the allocated Memory RAM, Boot time and Application initialization. In addition, the verification process for a VM includes the heartbeat and ping responses. It is strongly advised to make sure VMware tools or Guest Additions in Hyper-V are installed and running on the VM.
The Test Scripts section allows to add existing scripts based on built-in roles and even point to custom ones. Command Prompt and PowerShell for Windows based Operating Systems and Bash for Linux and Unix.
In the last tab the option to specify an account with the pertinent rights to execute the scripts or other programs.
And a final summary shows the main details for the Veeam Application Group creation. Next is the creation of a Veeam DataLabs job that will use this Application Group to provide an on-demand environment to test and run updates on a Linux Ubuntu.