Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Share on Reddit5Tweet about this on Twitter0

Introduction

Today, we can observe that more and more businesses consider cloud as an alternative to their on-premises datacenter. Some of them take advantage of cloud as a Disaster Recovery option or archival storage for backups, other migrate to cloud completely.

There are standard requirements for the cloud storage: it must be cost-efficient, and reliable. The existing cloud storage solutions usually lack comprehensive data management. This means that there is no way to instantly retrieve or even locate a given backup. Furthermore, it can take a reasonable amount of time to restore from the backup located on a cold cloud storage tier.

I would like to introduce you a complex solution that combines backup storage pool, backup software, and ability to offload the backup data to the fast cloud storage. All this functionality works in unison, creating an easy-to-manage and reliable environment for your backups.

VTL – the perfect backup storage solution

Physical tape is still a popular backup medium, and while it might be replaced with disks, it won’t go away in the nearest time. Instead, new Linear Tape-Open (LTO) standards are released regularly, with improved tape capacity and performance. Tape is alive and is considered a full-value backup medium. Compared to disk, tape loses at random access, but it is great at sequential workloads.

So what is Virtual Tape Library (VTL) and why it is so popular today? VTL is a data storage virtualization technology used typically for backup and recovery purposes. VTL presents a storage component (usually hard disks storage) as tape libraries or tape drives for using the with existing backup software. Simply speaking, VTL is a storage solution pretending to be a tape. It’s running a firmware that creates the illusion that it’s a tape library. But what’s the point of this virtualization?

Disk has several advantages over tape. It supports concurrent reads and writes with random access. It has less chance of failure, as you can place a VTL on top of RAID. But also, the reason that VTLs were created rather than just using pools of disks as a backup target, is that in early days of the IT era, the backup software was designed to deal with tapes, as HDDs were too expensive to be used as a backup media. Now, disk storage is cheap, so why would somebody go for VTL?

Virtual Tape is an object, so it perfectly fits cloud object storage solutions like AWS S3, Azure or Backblaze B2. It creates an intermediary layer between the backup software and object cloud storage, allowing to apply different retention policies according to the corporate backup policy.

StarWind VTL is a virtual tape storage solution that is absolutely compatible with Veeam. It is commonly used and well tested, so we will use it as a backup medium, able to operate with object storage cloud providers.

StarWind Storage Gateway for Backblaze is designed for organizations looking to automate data backup and archive without changing the existing backup environment. Forget about the inconvenience of shipping physical tapes offsite. Use virtual ones instead! That’s faster and more convenient way to keep your backups. Furthermore, thanks to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, even your archive data always is ready in hand!

Learn more about ➡ StarWind Storage Gateway for Backblaze.

OK, sounds interesting. What about Veeam in this scheme?

What do we expect from the backup? First of all, we expect the quick and accurate restore procedure.

As we all probably know by now, the recovery time objective (RTO) is the targeted duration of time and a service level within which a business process must be restored after a disaster (or disruption) in order to avoid unacceptable consequences associated with a break in business continuity. With Veeam Backup&Replication, you can achieve 15 minutes RTO, which is impressive. Veeam B&R is a flexible and powerful platform for managing backups, recovery, and replication of virtualized applications and data. So we have another brick in our backup solution. Let’s move on.

What is Backblaze and why Backblaze?

There are well-known cloud storage solutions available on the market and people use them for a long time already, so what are the advantages of Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage solution, compared to competitors? That is a good question. First, B2 is extremely cheap. The price is approximately the same as cold storage offerings from competitors, but with B2 you get the efficiency of a hot cloud storage, allowing you to access your data when you need it. Second – it is reliable. Backblaze B2 allows to safely store your backups and be ready to quickly restore when required, B&R.

Configuration: A quick walkthrough

Now, when we’ve got acquainted with the capabilities and features of each component of the system, let’s move to the configuration process. The scheme of the complete solution looks like on the picture below:

Applications

Veeam B&R makes backups of your existing infrastructure and stores them on a StarWind VTL device. According to the retention policy that you choose, you can transfer backups from VTL to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage for long-term storage. The data placed in the cloud will be available for you right when you need it.

StarWind VTL comes as an additional feature of StarWind Virtual SAN.

After you install and launch StarWind Management Console, you will be asked to specify the default storage pool location. Now, you can create a VTL Device.

StarWind Management Console

Once the VTL device is created, add the amount of tapes that you need and specify the tape parameters. The created tape appears in the first slot of the VTL device in the StarWind Management Console.

VTL 1

Now, we can proceed to the next part of the configuration process, namely, to the cloud storage side. By this time, we expect you to have a Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage account. The registration is quick and simple, moreover, you get 10GB for free.

We need the Account ID and Application Key. You can find them by navigating to Buckets and clicking on the Show Account ID and Application Key link.

B2 Cloud Storage Buckets

Then, just create a bucket and set custom lifecycle rules, which you can do in Lifecycle Settings in your Backblaze account.

To enable the replication between StarWind and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage, open StarWind Management Console, navigate to the VTL device and click Cloud Replication, then choose Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage among the list of available cloud storage providers. In the Replication Settings, specify Account ID, Application Key, Bucket Name obtained and configured previously, and press the Next button. You can also set your custom Tape File Retention Settings, like keeping tape with backups for a week, before moving or copying it to the cloud. Very easy and convenient!

Setup

All we have to do now is just discover our virtual tape device over iSCSI and install tape library drivers. Once the drivers are installed, the Medium Changer devices is shown as Hewlett Packard MSL G3 Series library (x64 based).

Device Manager

Now, the tape library is ready to be added to Veeam B&R. It can be done in a few clicks by choosing “Add Tape Server” option from the Tape Infrastructure tab in Veeam Backup and Replication Console.

After completing the wizard, you will see the StarWind tape library device in the Tape Infrastructure menu.

wp-image-8752

Now, when the initial configuration of StarWind VTL and Veeam B&R is finished, you can proceed and create new Tape Backup job with automated off-load to cloud. Select either “File to Tape” or “Backup to Tape” job and specify the files you want to back up to the virtual tape.

Choose the media pool where the data will be stored and configure the incremental backup schedule if necessary. Specify the additional settings and check the Export current media set upon job completion to allow the automatic tape offload to B2 Cloud Storage after backup job is finished.

wp-image-8753


After successful backup job completion, the tape will be ejected, exported and marked as offline. The replication process to B2 Cloud Storage will be initiated automatically, according to StarWind VTL Retention Policy.

Conclusion

The configuration process was quick and simple and as a result, we have deployed the backup storage able to automatically offload virtual tapes to the cost-efficient cloud tier.

Now, you can bring your backup infrastructure to next level. What you get is quick restores with Veeam, robust and seamless data protection experience with VTL, and a cloud storage with unmatched cost efficiency and instant data availability.

This approach makes sure that you will never lose your data even in the case of a disaster.

The complete and detailed configuration guide can be found here.

Views All Time
1
Views Today
6
Appreciate how useful this article was to you?
No Ratings Yet
Loading...
Back to blog
The following two tabs change content below.
Sergey Sanduliak
Sergey Sanduliak
Sergey is a Technical Support Engineer at StarWind. He is experienced in clustering, networking, and scripting. Adores coffee and traveling.