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Veeam and HPE Nimble dHCI

By Christophe Bertrand, Senior Analyst;
and Monya Keane, Senior Research Analyst

APRIL 2021


Data protection KPIs are very stringent in the enterprise world. IT must minimize RPOs and RTOs to meet modern organizations’ data protection needs. Success requires building a robust, scalable, and efficient infrastructure designed for performance and advanced backup and recovery. That’s where the combination of HPE Nimble dHCI and Veeam really shines.

Market Landscape

Three-quarters of organizations surveyed by ESG believe that IT complexity has increased for them over the past two years,1 making the need for simplicity in deploying and managing IT solutions all the more crucial. IT complexity not only results in higher management costs and more configuration errors, but it also causes longer RTOs and presents higher risks of data loss during emergency-restore operations.

Among surveyed organizations, 15% say they can tolerate no downtime at all for their mission-critical applications, while an additional 42% say their mission-critical applications must be back online in one hour or less. On the RPO front, 90% of organizations say they cannot tolerate losing more than one hour’s worth of mission-critical data.2 Altogether, it’s an alarming situation considering today’s backdrop of increasingly frequent cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, a meager one in five organizations (22%) report that they always meet their recovery objectives. Another one-third (33%) say they sometimes or rarely meet them (see Figure 1).3 This is an “SLA gap” that IT must correct if it wants to keep pace with accelerated digital transformation and constant data growth.

Downtime has significant negative impacts on businesses—ranging from economic, to operational, to legal in nature. One of the most visible and direct impacts is the undesirable operational efficiency consequences that an outage has on the IT organization itself. One in five surveyed organizations cite the diversion of skilled resources away from other business-critical projects to fix the outage as the impact that concerns them most.4

Organizations are facing the dilemma of accepting a data-loss risk or investing resources (such as new staff and more infrastructure) into data protection. Both options are often unacceptable. To move forward, organizations need to investigate new ways of meeting their data protection KPIs. They must carefully consider key architectural characteristics and leverage the right ecosystem of solution partners.

Figure 1. How Often Organizations Meet Their Service Level Objectives

Generally speaking, are your organization’s actual recovery times meeting its pre-established SLAs? (Percent of respondents, N=337)

Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

Building a Modern Data Protection Infrastructure

A modern, effective backup solution is one that is simple, highly scalable, and performant enough to deliver on tight data protection SLAs. It also needs to go beyond addressing an organization’s recoverability needs—supporting use cases such as bolstering Dev/Ops and strengthening the organization’s ransomware remediation strategy. Organizations must choose the solution that will optimize their infrastructure for operational efficiency and satisfy stringent RPOs and RTOs at both the core and the edge.

In general, these are the key characteristics of modern data protection infrastructures that are hybrid in nature—i.e., on-premises and in the cloud (see Table 1):

Table 1. Top Five Requirements for Modern Data Protection Infrastructures
Requirement Description
Ease of deployment and use Both for hardware and software, the solution must be designed for quick step-by-step deployment, with built-in automation, workflows etc. No “PhD” should be required.
Support of stringent data protection RPOs/RTOs It should leverage technologies and architectural designs that foster RPOs and RTOs as close to zero as possible.
Performance It should protect data quickly, non-disruptively, and with the lowest overhead on production infrastructure—while optimizing recovery capabilities, all at scale.
Proven ecosystem integrations It should have API-level integrations that optimize performance and data integrity, providing complementary and augmented RPO/RTO support.
Scalability It should offer modular scale-up and scale-out at the core and optimized packaging at the edge.
Source: Enterprise Strategy Group

A Winning Solution for Resilience with Veeam and HPE

Organizations have had great results putting general-purpose apps in edge deployments and distributed environments, and now they want to leverage HCI for scale-up workloads in the data center. Last year, Veeam’s partner HPE took features that its customers like about the flagship hyperconverged HPE SimpliVity platform, including its ease of use, and expanded them for the enterprise with a new, complementary, hyperconverged architecture called disaggregated HCI (dHCI).

HPE SimpliVity is designed for compact, all-in-one scalability, which makes it an ideal solution not only for data centers, but also for remote offices, remote data centers, and similar edge locations. Why not take SimpliVity’s simplicity and efficiency and extend it to the core? That’s what is happening as Veeam redefines “hyperconverged data protection” with the help of the HPE Nimble dHCI solution.

This redefined HCI extends the simplicity and ease of use of the hyperconverged model to all workloads— while delivering six-nines availability and the level of performance that business-critical apps demand.

HPE Nimble dHCI is a core enterprise play. While dHCI is still HCI, it's modular and able to individually and independently scale compute and storage resources to help the IT team avoid overprovisioning—alleviating them from being forced to purchase extra storage capacity together with server hardware. HPE Nimble dHCI is enterprise-class, easy to use, and easy to scale up and scale out.

This redefined HCI extends the simplicity and ease of use of the hyperconverged model to all workloads—while delivering six-nines availability and the level of performance that business-critical apps demand. HPE Nimble dHCI is designed for business-critical data in the core data center, where organizations need to maintain the best possible levels of RPO and RTO.

Combining HPE Nimble dHCI with Veeam

The Veeam/HPE Nimble integrations started before HPE acquired Nimble in 2017, but acquisition didn’t slow things down. The relationship has continued to grow and strengthen, with year-over-year improvements and refinements occurring since. Widely adopted by customers, this solution is rock solid, error-proof, and fully automated. IT organizations looking for simplicity and ease of use need not feel intimidated.

All those existing Veeam integrations for HPE Nimble, and all of the native HPE Nimble functionality, also apply to HPE Nimble dHCI. With Veeam, organizations can expand their use of the flexible backup choices available for vSphere environments, leveraging Veeam-native integration with HPE Nimble snapshots. This results in:

• A reduced impact of backups to the production environment—with backup from storage snapshots, including storage snapshotting with retention. The advantage of this particular integration is not limited to faster backup processes. It also eliminates the well-known undesirable side effects of backup on production services (such as slow response times or momentary application freezes).

• Veeam-managed primary and secondary snapshot orchestration to provide frequent (sub-day) restore points.

• Very fast, granular restores from storage snapshots with Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots.

• Instant VM recovery and DataLabs from storage snapshots that are as fast as production—ideal for supporting developers’ pre-production testing with Veeam On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots.

Other use cases include sandboxing for DevOps (on-demand sandboxes for snapshots), orchestration (including secondary snapshot orchestration), and ransomware-prevention sandboxing. Figure 2 illustrates how the Veeam and HPE Nimble dHCI solutions operate together to protect data.

Figure 2. HPE Nimble dHCI Data Protection with Veeam
Target Options for Backup with Veeam and HPE Nimble dHCI

As Figure 2 shows, within HPE’s portfolio, multiple backup target options are available to choose from:

• HPE StoreOnce— This secondary storage system, available as a purpose-built hardware appliance and as a virtual appliance hosted by a hypervisor, is the ideal solution for organizations seeking aggressive data reduction for medium- to long-term retention of backup data on-premises. Veeam can also control HPE StoreOnce native replication to create fully indexed offsite copies. HPE StoreOnce deduplication and compression also significantly reduce the WAN bandwidth required for replication.

StoreOnce is not mounted to any server as a local disk or as a NAS device but is only visible by the Veeam processes that use a private communication protocol called Catalyst. This makes StoreOnce unreachable from the server OS and invisible to any malware infection. When ransomware infects production servers and encrypts their disks, backup files written to StoreOnce remain protected and available for restore operations.

• HPE Apollo 4200 and 4510—These storage-optimized servers run Veeam services for storing Veeam backup data. This option is ideal for organizations that maintain short to medium retention periods and require high-speed backup and restoration of a variety of workload types.

This is enterprise- class storage that simplifies management and provides advantages such as six‑nines high availability and Triple+ Parity RAID.

• HPE Nimble HF storage— This is enterprise-class storage that simplifies management and provides advantages such as six‑nines high availability and Triple+ Parity RAID. HPE Nimble HF makes intelligent use of small SSD capacity to accelerate both backup and restore operations. IT can rely on HPE Nimble to be able to concurrently boot multiple VMs in instant VM recovery and put backup data to work for dev/test and analytics efforts. HPE Nimble is accessible by physical Veeam backup proxies using Fibre Channel or iSCSI protocols, or by Veeam’s VM-based proxies running on HPE Nimble dHCI and connected via in-guest iSCSI protocol. HPE Nimble HF can also be used not only as a backup target, but also as a snapshot replication target from the primary HPE Nimble storage (to store snapshots on more economical HPE Nimble HF arrays). Veeam automates the snapshot creation and replication process. Veeam Backup & Replication can also seamlessly use the replicated snapshot as a data source for a traditional backup, removing this workload from the primary HPE Nimble unit.

• HPE Cloud Volumes Backup— This is a completely cloud-native backup storage target that enables an organization to back up its data to the cloud seamlessly without changing existing backup policies and workflows. It is especially well-suited for storing a second, offsite backup copy under the 3-2-1 approach. Veeam’s integration with HPE Cloud Volumes Backup is based on the same Catalyst protocol available for StoreOnce, which considerably reduces WAN bandwidth requirements by leveraging a variable-segment-length deduplication algorithm capable of 10-20 to 1 bandwidth reduction for incremental backups.

The Bigger Truth

In the data protection space, strong technology partnerships, continuous co-innovation, and resulting integrations make all the difference in meeting enterprises’ modern demands for operational efficiency and optimized KPIs. The long-standing partnership between Veeam and HPE has allowed both vendors to combine their focus on delivering superior, feature-rich ways to simplify the management of the data protection/recovery process—both on-premises and off.

In this case, that’s where the impact of the HPE Nimble dHCI platform, on its own and in the broader context of the HPE portfolio, is so impressive. It represents an excellent real-world example of the breadth and depth of capabilities that two strong IT solutions providers can bring to bear.

Data management with HPE Nimble

This ESG Showcase was commissioned by Veeam and is distributed under license from ESG.

Source: ESG Research Report, 2021 Technology Spending Intentions Survey, Jan 2021.
Source: ESG Research Report, Real-world SLAs and Availability Requirements, Oct 2020.

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