StorSimple as a backup target with Veeam

Overview

Azure StorSimple is a hybrid cloud storage solution from Microsoft. StorSimple addresses the complexities of exponential data growth by using an Azure Storage account as an extension of the on-premises solution and automatically tiering data across on-premises storage and cloud storage.

In this article, we discuss StorSimple integration with Veeam, and best practices for integrating both solutions. We also make recommendations on how to set up Veeam to best integrate with StorSimple. We defer to Veeam best practices, backup architects, and administrators for the best way to set up Veeam to meet individual backup requirements and service-level agreements (SLAs).

Although we illustrate configuration steps and key concepts, this article is by no means a step-by-step configuration or installation guide. We assume that the basic components and infrastructure are in working order and ready to support the concepts that we describe.

Who should read this?

The information in this article will be most helpful to backup administrators, storage administrators, and storage architects who have knowledge of storage, Windows Server 2012 R2, Ethernet, cloud services, and Veeam.

Supported versions

Why StorSimple as a backup target?

StorSimple is a good choice for a backup target because:

  • It provides standard, local storage for backup applications to use as a fast backup destination, without any changes. You also can use StorSimple for a quick restore of recent backups.
  • Its cloud tiering is seamlessly integrated with an Azure cloud storage account to use cost-effective Azure Storage.
  • It automatically provides offsite storage for disaster recovery.

Key concepts

As with any storage solution, a careful assessment of the solution’s storage performance, SLAs, rate of change, and capacity growth needs is critical to success. The main idea is that by introducing a cloud tier, your access times and throughputs to the cloud play a fundamental role in the ability of StorSimple to do its job.

StorSimple is designed to provide storage to applications that operate on a well-defined working set of data (hot data). In this model, the working set of data is stored on the local tiers, and the remaining nonworking/cold/archived set of data is tiered to the cloud. This model is represented in the following figure. The nearly flat green line represents the data stored on the local tiers of the StorSimple device. The red line represents the total amount of data stored on the StorSimple solution across all tiers. The space between the flat green line and the exponential red curve represents the total amount of data stored in the cloud.

StorSimple tiering StorSimple tiering diagram

With this architecture in mind, you will find that StorSimple is ideally suited to operate as a backup target. You can use StorSimple to:

  • Perform your most frequent restores from the local working set of data.
  • Use the cloud for offsite disaster recovery and older data, where restores are less frequent.

StorSimple benefits

StorSimple provides an on-premises solution that is seamlessly integrated with Microsoft Azure, by taking advantage of seamless access to on-premises and cloud storage.

StorSimple uses automatic tiering between the on-premises device, which has solid-state device (SSD) and serial-attached SCSI (SAS) storage, and Azure Storage. Automatic tiering keeps frequently accessed data local, on the SSD and SAS tiers. It moves infrequently accessed data to Azure Storage.

StorSimple offers these benefits:

  • Unique deduplication and compression algorithms that use the cloud to achieve unprecedented deduplication levels
  • High availability
  • Geo-replication by using Azure geo-replication
  • Azure integration
  • Data encryption in the cloud
  • Improved disaster recovery and compliance

Although StorSimple presents two main deployment scenarios (primary backup target and secondary backup target), fundamentally, it's a plain, block storage device. StorSimple does all the compression and deduplication. It seamlessly sends and retrieves data between the cloud and the application and file system.

For more information about StorSimple, see StorSimple 8000 series: Hybrid cloud storage solution. Also, you can review the technical StorSimple 8000 series specifications.

Important

Using a StorSimple device as a backup target is supported only for StorSimple 8000 Update 3 and later versions.

Architecture overview

The following tables show the device model-to-architecture initial guidance.

StorSimple capacities for local and cloud storage

Storage capacity 8100 8600
Local storage capacity < 10 TiB* < 20 TiB*
Cloud storage capacity > 200 TiB* > 500 TiB*

* Storage size assumes no deduplication or compression.

StorSimple capacities for primary and secondary backups

Backup scenario Local storage capacity Cloud storage capacity
Primary backup Recent backups stored on local storage for fast recovery to meet recovery point objective (RPO) Backup history (RPO) fits in cloud capacity
Secondary backup Secondary copy of backup data can be stored in cloud capacity N/A

StorSimple as a primary backup target

In this scenario, StorSimple volumes are presented to the backup application as the sole repository for backups. The following figure shows a solution architecture in which all backups use StorSimple tiered volumes for backups and restores.

StorSimple as a primary backup target logical diagram

Primary target backup logical steps

  1. The backup server contacts the target backup agent, and the backup agent transmits data to the backup server.
  2. The backup server writes data to the StorSimple tiered volumes.
  3. The backup server updates the catalog database, and then finishes the backup job.
  4. A snapshot script triggers the StorSimple cloud snapshot manager (start or delete).
  5. The backup server deletes expired backups based on a retention policy.

Primary target restore logical steps

  1. The backup server starts restoring the appropriate data from the storage repository.
  2. The backup agent receives the data from the backup server.
  3. The backup server finishes the restore job.

StorSimple as a secondary backup target

In this scenario, StorSimple volumes primarily are used for long-term retention or archiving.

The following figure shows an architecture in which initial backups and restores target a high-performance volume. These backups are copied and archived to a StorSimple tiered volume on a set schedule.

It is important to size your high-performance volume so that it can handle your retention policy capacity and performance requirements.

StorSimple as a secondary backup target logical diagram

Secondary target backup logical steps

  1. The backup server contacts the target backup agent, and the backup agent transmits data to the backup server.
  2. The backup server writes data to high-performance storage.
  3. The backup server updates the catalog database, and then finishes the backup job.
  4. The backup server copies backups to StorSimple based on a retention policy.
  5. A snapshot script triggers the StorSimple cloud snapshot manager (start or delete).
  6. The backup server deletes expired backups based on a retention policy.

Secondary target restore logical steps

  1. The backup server starts restoring the appropriate data from the storage repository.
  2. The backup agent receives the data from the backup server.
  3. The backup server finishes the restore job.

Deploy the solution

Deploying the solution requires three steps:

  1. Prepare the network infrastructure.
  2. Deploy your StorSimple device as a backup target.
  3. Deploy Veeam.

Each step is discussed in detail in the following sections.

Set up the network

Because StorSimple is a solution that is integrated with the Azure cloud, StorSimple requires an active and working connection to the Azure cloud. This connection is used for operations like cloud snapshots, data management, and metadata transfer, and to tier older, less accessed data to Azure cloud storage.

For the solution to perform optimally, we recommend that you follow these networking best practices:

  • The link that connects your StorSimple tiering to Azure must meet your bandwidth requirements. Achieve this by applying the necessary Quality of Service (QoS) level to your infrastructure switches to match your RPO and recovery time objective (RTO) SLAs.
  • Maximum Azure Blob storage access latencies should be around 80 ms.

Deploy StorSimple

For step-by-step StorSimple deployment guidance, see Deploy your on-premises StorSimple device.

Deploy Veeam

For Veeam installation best practices, see Veeam Backup & Replication Best Practices, and read the user guide at Veeam Help Center (Technical Documentation).

Set up the solution

In this section, we demonstrate some configuration examples. The following examples and recommendations illustrate the most basic and fundamental implementation. This implementation might not apply directly to your specific backup requirements.

Set up StorSimple

StorSimple deployment tasks Additional comments
Deploy your on-premises StorSimple device. Supported versions: Update 3 and later versions.
Turn on the backup target. Use these commands to turn on or turn off backup target mode, and to get status. For more information, see Connect remotely to a StorSimple device.
To turn on backup mode: Set-HCSBackupApplianceMode -enable.
To turn off backup mode: Set-HCSBackupApplianceMode -disable.
To get the current state of backup mode settings: Get-HCSBackupApplianceMode.
Create a common volume container for your volume that stores the backup data. All data in a volume container is deduplicated. StorSimple volume containers define deduplication domains.
Create StorSimple volumes. Create volumes with sizes as close to the anticipated usage as possible, because volume size affects cloud snapshot duration time. For information about how to size a volume, read about retention policies.

Use StorSimple tiered volumes, and select the Use this volume for less frequently accessed archival data check box.
Using only locally pinned volumes is not supported.
Create a unique StorSimple backup policy for all the backup target volumes. A StorSimple backup policy defines the volume consistency group.
Disable the schedule as the snapshots expire. Snapshots are triggered as a post-processing operation.

Set up the host backup server storage

Set up the host backup server storage according to these guidelines:

  • Don't use spanned volumes (created by Windows Disk Management). Spanned volumes are not supported.
  • Format your volumes using NTFS with 64-KB allocation unit size.
  • Map the StorSimple volumes directly to the Veeam server.
    • Use iSCSI for physical servers.

Best practices for StorSimple and Veeam

Set up your solution according to the guidelines in the following few sections.

Operating system best practices

  • Disable Windows Server encryption and deduplication for the NTFS file system.
  • Disable Windows Server defragmentation on the StorSimple volumes.
  • Disable Windows Server indexing on the StorSimple volumes.
  • Run an antivirus scan at the source host (not against the StorSimple volumes).
  • Turn off the default Windows Server maintenance in Task Manager. Do this in one of the following ways:
    • Turn off the Maintenance configurator in Windows Task Scheduler.
    • Download PsExec from Windows Sysinternals. After you download PsExec, run Windows PowerShell as an administrator, and type: powershell psexec \\%computername% -s schtasks /change /tn “MicrosoftWindowsTaskSchedulerMaintenance Configurator" /disable

StorSimple best practices

  • Be sure that the StorSimple device is updated to Update 3 or later.
  • Isolate iSCSI and cloud traffic. Use dedicated iSCSI connections for traffic between StorSimple and the backup server.
  • Be sure that your StorSimple device is a dedicated backup target. Mixed workloads are not supported because they affect your RTO and RPO.

Veeam best practices

  • The Veeam database should be local to the server and not reside on a StorSimple volume.
  • For disaster recovery, back up the Veeam database on a StorSimple volume.
  • We support Veeam full and incremental backups for this solution. We recommend that you do not use synthetic and differential backups.
  • Backup data files should contain only the data for a specific job. For example, no media appends across different jobs are allowed.
  • Turn off job verification. If necessary, verification should be scheduled after the latest backup job. It is important to understand that this job affects your backup window.
  • Turn on media pre-allocation.
  • Be sure parallel processing is turned on.
  • Turn off compression.
  • Turn off deduplication on the backup job.
  • Set optimization to LAN Target.
  • Turn on Create active full backup (every 2 weeks).
  • On the backup repository, set up Use per-VM backup files.
  • Set Use multiple upload streams per job to 8 (a maximum of 16 is allowed). Adjust this number up or down based on CPU utilization on the StorSimple device.

Retention policies

One of the most common backup retention policy types is a Grandfather, Father, and Son (GFS) policy. In a GFS policy, an incremental backup is performed daily and full backups are done weekly and monthly. This policy results in six StorSimple tiered volumes: one volume contains the weekly, monthly, and yearly full backups; the other five volumes store daily incremental backups.

In the following example, we use a GFS rotation. The example assumes the following:

  • Non-deduped or compressed data is used.
  • Full backups are 1 TiB each.
  • Daily incremental backups are 500 GiB each.
  • Four weekly backups are kept for a month.
  • Twelve monthly backups are kept for a year.
  • One yearly backup is kept for 10 years.

Based on the preceding assumptions, create a 26-TiB StorSimple tiered volume for the monthly and yearly full backups. Create a 5-TiB StorSimple tiered volume for each of the incremental daily backups.

Backup type retention Size (TiB) GFS multiplier* Total capacity (TiB)
Weekly full 1 4 4
Daily incremental 0.5 20 (cycles equal number of weeks per month) 12 (2 for additional quota)
Monthly full 1 12 12
Yearly full 1 10 10
GFS requirement 38
Additional quota 4 42 total GFS requirement

* The GFS multiplier is the number of copies you need to protect and retain to meet your backup policy requirements.

Set up Veeam storage

To set up Veeam storage

  1. In the Veeam Backup and Replication console, in Repository Tools, go to Backup Infrastructure. Right-click Backup Repositories, and then select Add Backup Repository.

    Veeam management console, backup repository page

  2. In the New Backup Repository dialog box, enter a name and description for the repository. Select Next.

    Veeam management console, name and description page

  3. For the type, select Microsoft Windows server. Select the Veeam server. Select Next.

    Veeam management console, select type of backup repository

  4. To specify Location, browse and select the volume. Select the Limit maximum concurrent tasks to: check box and set the value to 4. This ensures that only four virtual disks are being processed concurrently while each virtual machine (VM) is processed. Select the Advanced button.

    Veeam management console, select volume

  5. In the Storage Compatibility Settings dialog box, select the Use per-VM backup files check box.

    Veeam management console, storage compatibility settings

  6. In the New Backup Repository dialog box, select the Enable vPower NFS service on the mount server (recommended) check box. Select Next.

    Veeam management console, backup repository page

  7. Review the settings, and then select Next.

    Veeam management console, backup repository page

    A repository is added to the Veeam server.

Set up StorSimple as a primary backup target

Important

Data restore from a backup that has been tiered to the cloud occurs at cloud speeds.

The following figure shows the mapping of a typical volume to a backup job. In this case, all the weekly backups map to the Saturday full disk, and the incremental backups map to Monday-Friday incremental disks. All the backups and restores are from a StorSimple tiered volume.

Primary backup target configuration logical diagram

StorSimple as a primary backup target GFS schedule example

Here's an example of a GFS rotation schedule for four weeks, monthly, and yearly:

Frequency/backup type Full Incremental (days 1-5)
Weekly (weeks 1-4) Saturday Monday-Friday
Monthly Saturday
Yearly Saturday

Assign StorSimple volumes to a Veeam backup job

For primary backup target scenario, create a daily job with your primary Veeam StorSimple volume. For a secondary backup target scenario, create a daily job by using Direct Attached Storage (DAS), Network Attached Storage (NAS), or Just a Bunch of Disks (JBOD) storage.

To assign StorSimple volumes to a Veeam backup job

  1. In the Veeam Backup and Replication console, select Backup & Replication. Right-click Backup, and then select VMware or Hyper-V, depending on your environment.

    Veeam management console, new backup job

  2. In the New Backup Job dialog box, enter a name and description for the daily backup job.

    Veeam management console, new backup job page

  3. Select a virtual machine to back up to.

    Veeam management console, new backup job page

  4. Select the values you want for Backup proxy and Backup repository. Select a value for Restore points to keep on disk according to the RPO and RTO definitions for your environment on locally attached storage. Select Advanced.

    Veeam management console, new backup job page

  5. In the Advanced Settings dialog box, on the Backup tab, select Incremental. Be sure that the Create synthetic full backups periodically check box is cleared. Select the Create active full backups periodically check box. Under Active full backup, select the Weekly on selected days check box for Saturday.

    Veeam management console, new backup job advanced settings page

  6. On the Storage tab, make sure that the Enable inline data deduplication check box is cleared. Select the Exclude swap file blocks check box, and select the Exclude deleted file blocks check box. Set Compression level to None. For balanced performance and deduplication, set Storage optimization to LAN target. Select OK.

    Veeam management console, new backup job advanced settings page

    For information about Veeam deduplication and compression settings, see Data Compression and Deduplication.

  7. In the Edit Backup Job dialog box, you can select the Enable application-aware processing check box (optional).

    Veeam management console, new backup job guest processing page

  8. Set the schedule to run once daily, at a time you can specify.

    Veeam management console, new backup job schedule page

Set up StorSimple as a secondary backup target

Note

Data restores from a backup that has been tiered to the cloud occur at cloud speeds.

In this model, you must have a storage media (other than StorSimple) to serve as a temporary cache. For example, you can use a redundant array of independent disks (RAID) volume to accommodate space, input/output (I/O), and bandwidth. We recommend using RAID 5, 50, and 10.

The following figure shows typical short-term retention local (to the server) volumes and long-term retention archive volumes. In this scenario, all backups run on the local (to the server) RAID volume. These backups are periodically duplicated and archived to an archive volume. It is important to size your local (to the server) RAID volume so that it can handle your short-term retention capacity and performance requirements.

StorSimple as secondary backup target logical diagram

StorSimple as a secondary backup target GFS example

The following table shows how to set up backups to run on the local and StorSimple disks. It includes individual and total capacity requirements.

Backup type and retention Configured storage Size (TiB) GFS multiplier Total capacity* (TiB)
Week 1 (full and incremental) Local disk (short-term) 1 1 1
StorSimple weeks 2-4 StorSimple disk (long-term) 1 4 4
Monthly full StorSimple disk (long-term) 1 12 12
Yearly full StorSimple disk (long-term) 1 1 1
GFS volumes size requirement 18*

* Total capacity includes 17 TiB of StorSimple disks and 1 TiB of local RAID volume.

GFS example schedule

GFS rotation weekly, monthly, and yearly schedule

Week Full Incremental day 1 Incremental day 2 Incremental day 3 Incremental day 4 Incremental day 5
Week 1 Local RAID volume Local RAID volume Local RAID volume Local RAID volume Local RAID volume Local RAID volume
Week 2 StorSimple weeks 2-4
Week 3 StorSimple weeks 2-4
Week 4 StorSimple weeks 2-4
Monthly StorSimple monthly
Yearly StorSimple yearly

Assign StorSimple volumes to a Veeam copy job

To assign StorSimple volumes to a Veeam copy job

  1. In the Veeam Backup and Replication console, select Backup & Replication. Right-click Backup, and then select VMware or Hyper-V, depending on your environment.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job page

  2. In the New Backup Copy Job dialog box, enter a name and description for the job.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job page

  3. Select the VMs you want to process. Select from backups, and then select the daily backup that you created earlier.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job page

  4. Exclude objects from the backup copy job, if needed.

  5. Select your backup repository, and set a value for Restore points to keep. Be sure to select the Keep the following restore points for archival purposes check box. Define the backup frequency, and then select Advanced.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job page

  6. Specify the following advanced settings:

    • On the Maintenance tab, turn off storage level corruption guard.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job advanced settings page

    • On the Storage tab, be sure that deduplication and compression are turned off.

    Veeam management console, new backup copy job advanced settings page

  7. Specify that the data transfer is direct.

  8. Define the backup copy window schedule according to your needs, and then finish the wizard.

For more information, see Create backup copy jobs.

StorSimple cloud snapshots

StorSimple cloud snapshots protect the data that resides in your StorSimple device. Creating a cloud snapshot is equivalent to shipping local backup tapes to an offsite facility. If you use Azure geo-redundant storage, creating a cloud snapshot is equivalent to shipping backup tapes to multiple sites. If you need to restore a device after a disaster, you might bring another StorSimple device online and do a failover. After the failover, you would be able to access the data (at cloud speeds) from the most recent cloud snapshot.

The following section describes how to create a short script to start and delete StorSimple cloud snapshots during backup post-processing.

Note

Snapshots that are manually or programmatically created do not follow the StorSimple snapshot expiration policy. These snapshots must be manually or programmatically deleted.

Start and delete cloud snapshots by using a script

Note

Carefully assess the compliance and data retention repercussions before you delete a StorSimple snapshot. For more information about how to run a post-backup script, see the Veeam documentation.

Backup lifecycle

Backup lifecycle diagram

Requirements

  • The server that runs the script must have access to Azure cloud resources.
  • The user account must have the necessary permissions.
  • A StorSimple backup policy with the associated StorSimple volumes must be set up but not turned on.
  • You'll need the StorSimple resource name, registration key, device name, and backup policy ID.

To start or delete a cloud snapshot

  1. Install Azure PowerShell.
  2. Download and import publish settings and subscription information.
  3. In the Azure classic portal, get the resource name and registration key for your StorSimple Manager service.
  4. On the server that runs the script, run PowerShell as an administrator. Type this command:

    Get-AzureStorSimpleDeviceBackupPolicy –DeviceName <device name>

    Note the backup policy ID.

  5. In Notepad, create a new PowerShell script by using the following code.

    Copy and paste this code snippet:

    Import-AzurePublishSettingsFile "c:\\CloudSnapshot Snapshot\\myAzureSettings.publishsettings"
    Disable-AzureDataCollection
    $ApplianceName = <myStorSimpleApplianceName>
    $RetentionInDays = 20
    $RetentionInDays = -$RetentionInDays
    $Today = Get-Date
    $ExpirationDate = $Today.AddDays($RetentionInDays)
    Select-AzureStorSimpleResource -ResourceName "myResource" –RegistrationKey
    Start-AzureStorSimpleDeviceBackupJob –DeviceName $ApplianceName -BackupType CloudSnapshot -BackupPolicyId <BackupId> -Verbose
    $CompletedSnapshots =@()
    $CompletedSnapshots = Get-AzureStorSimpleDeviceBackup -DeviceName $ApplianceName
    Write-Host "The Expiration date is " $ExpirationDate
    Write-Host
    
    ForEach ($SnapShot in $CompletedSnapshots)
    {
        $SnapshotStartTimeStamp = $Snapshot.CreatedOn
        if ($SnapshotStartTimeStamp -lt $ExpirationDate)
    
        {
            $SnapShotInstanceID = $SnapShot.InstanceId
            Write-Host "This snpashotdate was created on " $SnapshotStartTimeStamp.Date.ToShortDateString()
            Write-Host "Instance ID " $SnapShotInstanceID
            Write-Host "This snpashotdate is older and needs to be deleted"
            Write-host "\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#\#"
            Remove-AzureStorSimpleDeviceBackup -DeviceName $ApplianceName -BackupId $SnapShotInstanceID -Force -Verbose
        }
    }
    
  6. To add the script to your backup job, edit your Veeam job advanced options.

    Veeam backup advanced settings scripts tab

We recommend that you run your StorSimple cloud snapshot backup policy as a post-processing script at the end of your daily backup job. For more information about how to back up and restore your backup application environment to help you meet your RPO and RTO, please consult with your backup architect.

StorSimple as a restore source

Restores from a StorSimple device work like restores from any block storage device. Restores of data that is tiered to the cloud occurs at cloud speeds. For local data, restores occur at the local disk speed of the device.

With Veeam, you get fast, granular, file-level recovery through StorSimple via the built-in explorer views in the Veeam console. Use the Veeam Explorers to recover individual items, like email messages, Active Directory objects, and SharePoint items from backups. The recovery can be done without on-premises VM disruption. You also can do point-in-time recovery for Azure SQL Database and Oracle databases. Veeam and StorSimple make the process of item-level recovery from Azure fast and easy. For information about how to perform a restore, see the Veeam documentation:

StorSimple failover and disaster recovery

Note

For backup target scenarios, StorSimple Cloud Appliance is not supported as a restore target.

A disaster can be caused by a variety of factors. The following table lists common disaster recovery scenarios.

Scenario Impact How to recover Notes
StorSimple device failure Backup and restore operations are interrupted. Replace the failed device and perform StorSimple failover and disaster recovery. If you need to perform a restore after device recovery, full data working sets are retrieved from the cloud to the new device. All operations are at cloud speeds. The index and catalog rescanning process might cause all backup sets to be scanned and pulled from the cloud tier to the local device tier, which might be a time-consuming process.
Veeam server failure Backup and restore operations are interrupted. Rebuild the backup server and perform database restore as detailed in Veeam Help Center (Technical Documentation). You must rebuild or restore the Veeam server at the disaster recovery site. Restore the database to the most recent point. If the restored Veeam database is not in sync with your latest backup jobs, indexing and cataloging is required. This index and catalog rescanning process might cause all backup sets to be scanned and pulled from the cloud tier to the local device tier. This makes it further time-intensive.
Site failure that results in the loss of both the backup server and StorSimple Backup and restore operations are interrupted. Restore StorSimple first, and then restore Veeam. Restore StorSimple first, and then restore Veeam. If you need to perform a restore after device recovery, the full data working sets are retrieved from the cloud to the new device. All operations are at cloud speeds.

References

The following documents were referenced for this article:

Next steps