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Not all data is created equal. That is to say, not all data is equally important to your business. This is why we must carefully consider the criticality of each category of data, and then protect it in a way that reflects its importance.
This evaluation shouldn’t change when our data moves to the cloud. While on-premises, collaboration data like Exchange and Sharepoint are generally considered to be highly critical to backup. So, there’s no reason the same level of protection shouldn’t apply when it is migrated to a cloud platform like Microsoft 365 (M365). Much has been written on this topic, so let’s take the next step and discuss how this data should be protected once it is in the cloud.
As the leader in virtual machine backups, it should be no surprise that Veeam is also the most popular option for backing up M365. With coverage for Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams data, and an amazingly wide number of restoration options, Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 (VBM365) is the most flexible tool for protecting and restoring M365 data.
Designed for Object Storage
The storage of backups is equally important to the tool used to create the backups. VBM365 was developed in the cloud-native era and was designed to handle a large amount of data quickly and efficiently. Therefore Veeam architected it to use object-based storage as a first-class storage option.
There are many reasons why object storage is quickly becoming the de facto standard for backup data, including near-infinite scalability, more efficient storage of large unstructured chunks of data, and simple connectivity regardless of the location. Anyone watching Veeam’s flagship product, Veeam Backup & Replication, knows that Veeam is taking object storage very seriously across their products.
With VBM365, utilizing object storage is the only way to separate the control plan (backup and proxy servers) from the storage, and some features are only available when using object storage. Two of those features — encryption and deduplication — can lead to a 15 percent storage efficiency relative to the same data landing on block storage. Considering all the advantages, Veeam recommends the use of object storage in their best practice guide.
“Object storage is more future proof. Today it already supports encryption and compression of objects, thus being more secure and space efficient than local Jet databases. Also it scales much better than local Jet databases on the file system and such avoids performance issues.” — Best Practice Guide for Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365
While it is possible to run an object storage system on-premises, object storage is a cloud-native storage solution. As such, object storage systems can be difficult to architect for a smaller scale on-premises deployment, adding to the already complicated job of architecting backup infrastructure. The ease of connecting to object storage is a critical part of Veeam’s strategy, because the ability to simply point to a cloud-based object storage service almost always provides a much cheaper and scalable solution. With source-side encryption and the availability of physical or virtual direct connections to many cloud providers, security shouldn’t be much of a concern, especially when the production data has already been entrusted to the cloud.
Designed for Backup
That’s where 11:11 Systems comes in. 11:11 Cloud Object Storage doesn’t just offer data protection in the cloud, it was built for it. Drawing on over a decade of industry experience, its design reflects a deep understanding of the performance and resiliency needed for a successful backup infrastructure, along with the importance of a security-first approach (including the option of using physical or virtual direct connections). Utilizing tools like Catalyst, a custom-built tool for sizing customer environments, 11:11 is perfectly positioned to help customers set up the right data protection solution.
As 11:11 set out to build an object storage solution, VBM365 was a primary use case. While object storage seems to be a race to the bottom in terms of cost, we chose not to participate in that race by cutting corners that would risk customer data. Instead, we focused on high resiliency, so customer data wouldn’t be at risk of loss or poor performance, to ensure they can get it back quickly when needed. This resiliency starts with choosing data centers built to the highest resiliency standards and extends into the architecture of our Ceph-based object storage pods.
These pods are built using 8+3 erasure coding, which means they can withstand the loss of any two nodes at one time without losing the ability to read or write data. If there were to be a loss of three nodes simultaneously, data would still be available, but in order to ensure the viability of the data no writes would be possible. And even in that scenario, data retrieval would still have the advantage of utilizing eight different disks in eight different nodes, so there would be no impact to performance.
All of this results in 99.9999999% availability (yeah, that’s 11 nine’s — a number we derived from actual tests and mathematics). This may mean losing the race to the bottom, but customers can rest assured that their data is highly unlikely to be lost.
Designed for the Cloud
11:11 has been involved with the development of VBM365 since before its public availability. This gives us great insight into how it operates, and a deep understanding of how it utilizes all forms of storage. The result is consistent improvements to both our object storage system and VBM365 itself, as well as numerous Veeam honors, and over a dozen contributions back to the Ceph open-source project.
This experience comes from 11:11 providing a M365 Backup as a Service (BaaS) solution that utilizes VBM365, and a dedicated object storage environment based on the same object storage design we offer directly to customers. With this solution, customers can avoid the hard work of architecting their own. Sizing a backup environment is not always the simplest task, as the right number of control and proxy nodes need to be determined in addition to the right amount of storage. As the environment grows over time, due to natural growth, additional migrations into 365, or the combination of multiple organizations via acquisition, staying ahead of the proper scale also needs to be considered as part of the long-term management of an on-premises deployment.
The connectivity between the key components of data movement also need to be considered. All of the data needs to move from Microsoft 365 to the proxy servers, then to the object storage system during the backup process, and the reverse of that during the restoration of any data. Running the object storage adjacent to the proxy servers is critical to reduce issues related to bandwidth and latency — which can definitely be a problem when utilizing cloud-based object storage with an on-premises backup infrastructure where asynchronous connectivity and hair-pinning traffic will likely occur.
“Consider the final data repository location and the traffic flow when deciding the servers placement. Running the infrastructure on-prem and downloading all data to then upload it again to an Azure blob container might not be the best option.” — Best Practice Guide for Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365
While customers could run their VBM365 control and proxy nodes in Azure or 11:11 Cloud, this BaaS model allows customers to avoid all effort associated with architecting and managing the solution, including the pain associated with any miscalculations. Most customers we work with have made the decision to stop any specialized management of Exchange. They are far more willing to let someone else architect and manage the backup infrastructure, not to mention provide a guided on-boarding experience by a team of experts.
Like most things in the cloud, it is very easy to get started. 11:11 offers free 30-day trials of both our Cloud Object Storage and Cloud Backup for Microsoft 365, so you can quickly prove the value of using the cloud to protect your Microsoft 365 data.