One of the reasons I enjoy going to conferences put on by vendors is the opportunity to keep on top of product and services announcements, interact face-to-face with customers and vendor representatives, and speak with partners. This is often one of the best ways to get a clearer, more complete view of the vendor, its products and the issues that may be occurring.
This time, I went to the Veeam VeeamON 2015 conference in Las Vegas. This is my last comment on Veeam’s VeeamON 2015. I promise.
The vendor typically announces new products and services at the event. I already wrote about the launch of Veeam’s backup client for Linux (click here to read that article.) The company also launched a new portal product for managed service providers (MSPs) making it more easily possible for them to sell services based upon Veeam’s data protection products.
Conversation with Rick Vanover
I spoke with a number of Veeam representatives during the event. My conversation with Rick Vanover, product strategy specialist for Veeam, was feisty, informative and fun. I had the opportunity to challenge some of Veeam’s marketing messages.
In the past, Veeam’s banner included the words “data availability for the modern data center.” Veeam’s product portfolio provided backup, recovery, data protection and disaster recovery for industry standard x86-based systems running in a VMware-based virtual environment.
Now Veeam’s banner message is “Availability for the always-on enterprise.” Although Veeam has added support for Microsoft Hyper-V-based environments and limited support for Linux, once again, the vendor has focused support of some platforms and is speaking broadly as if it covers the whole data center.
Vanover’s response was direct, practical and fun. He pointed out that Veeam only entered the market in 2008 and that the company has picked the market segments having the greatest needs (read the biggest opportunity for Veeam sales) and has built a track record of addressing those needs in priority order. So, Windows came first as did virtual machine software from VMware and Microsoft. The company’s cloud-focused efforts have focused on one of the fastest growing cloud providers, Microsoft, as well.
Vanover mentioned a new catch phrase during our discussion that I believe has merit, “data surfaces.” Veeam is addressing the most used data surfaces and can be expected to continue to reach out to more over time.
I hope to speak with Vanover again in the future.
Snapshot Analysis – How much availability is enough?
Vanover’s enthusiasm aside, at the best, Veeam supports only a small fraction of the platforms and workloads found in a modern data center. The company didn’t and still doesn’t support mainframe, mid-range UNIX and offer full support of Linux environments.
Veeam supports VMware and Microsoft virtual machine technology but, doesn’t support either Xen (put forward by Citrix, Oracle and a host of Linux distributors) or KVM (put forward by Red Hat, IBM and a host of Linux distributors.) The party line is that the company will consider those computing environments “when their customers demand it.”
If we examine the “Availability for the always-on enterprise” message closely, we see that Veeam offers excellent data protection and disaster recovery for its selected platforms and virtual machine technology but, it is a stretch to say it really supports “always-on” computing.
Ramifications of “always-on” computing
Most software-focused recovery tools, including those offered by Veeam, offer recovery from a failure that can take a number of minutes or more. At best, these software-based solutions could expected to over uptime between Four 9s (99.99% uptime) and Five 9s (99.999% uptime.)
Some enterprise workloads can not be allowed to experience a visible failure at all. These workloads need higher levels of reliability, say Six 9s (99.9999% uptime) or Seven 9s (99.99999% uptime.)
Hardware-focused continuous processing solutions, such as those offered by Stratus Technologies or HP Enterprise’s Integrity NonStop servers, will be needed for those critical workloads. These servers, having redundant processors, memory, network and storage, can fail over in micro- or mili-seconds – failover that is fast enough that neither humans nor attached services will notice the failure.
Don’t get me wrong — What Veeam does, it does well.
Veeam’s products are worthy of consideration for workloads, platforms and cloud environments it supports. I’ve interviewed many Veeam customers and many have stories to tell in which Veeam saved them from disaster or reduced the pain of a”disaster” to a minor irritation.
If we consider Veeam in the context of other suppliers of DR solutions, such as IBM, HPE, Dell, NetApp, EMC, and HDS, Veeam’s solutions are easy to use, fit nicely into the target environments and offer many things worthy of note.