Veeam's new vision: Data center availability

Goodbye, backup and recovery. Hello, data center availability. At its first user conference, Veeam attempts to reposition itself and its products. Will this game plan work?
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

Veeam, a supplier of backup, recovery and availability solutions for X86-based virtual server environment, is currently presenting its first user conference, VeeamON 2014. The company, a player in the large backup and recovery software market, wants to recast itself as the premier "Data Center Availability" solution supplier.

After enjoying a spirited conversation with Doug Hazelman, VP, Product Strategy, and Chief Evangelist, I believe that I understand the company's vision. I also expect to comment on a few software announcements the company will make later in the conference. For now, however, I'd like to examine the company's current product capabilities, packages for different market segments, and vision for the future.

Veeam's products

Veeam is a supplier of products that address the following business needs:

  • Backup and Recovery for X86 systems supporting virtual workloads
  • A management suite designed to monitor and manage the backup and recovery process
  • A management pack for its backup and recovery software designed to integrate into Microsoft's Management Center

The data that is backed up by Veeam's product can be stored on site or off site in a cloud service provider's data center.

Packages targeting different customers

The company currently offers several packages to tailor the capabilities of its backup and recovery software to different market segments, including the following:

  • Packages target users of Microsoft's Hyper-V virtual machine software and those using VMware's vSphere.
  • A cloud edition supports suppliers of cloud backup and recovery services.
  • Support for storage servers from Cisco, EMC, HP and NetApp.
  • Packages designed for both federal governments and State/Local governments.

Veeam's vision for the future

The catch phrase for VeeamON 2014 is "The World's Premier Data Center Availability Event." This is a key indicator of where the company wants to go and how it would like to be perceived.

One thing is clear: Veeam wants out of the backup and recovery market, where it competes with quite a large number of players. It is trying to reposition itself as offering "data center availability" rather than merely backup. To that end, it is focusing its attention on trying to recast itself and the market so that it is in a category of one.

It's a worthy goal and, from some viewpoints, is something within the company's reach.

Snapshot analysis

While I appreciate the articulation of a grand vision and a company trying to reposition itself to clear a way for future growth, it is important to look at where they are and what they currently offer. That, after all, is the foundation of the company's future efforts.

  • Today, Veeam's products execute of X86-based industry standard servers and target backup, recovery and data availability for virtual servers executing in either a VMware or Microsoft environment. They don't, at this moment, offer products that support any of the various Xen flavors or KVM.
  • Today's data centers include mainframes; midrange UNIX systems; midrange systems running single vendor environments, such as IBM i; Linux running on mainframes, power systems from IBM; and X86 systems supporting Windows and Linux workloads. Veeam only offers products that support the last two categories. The company points out that "modern" data centers are largely built upon the foundation of Windows and Linux executing on X86-based systems. Large enterprises, however, have built major systems on other platforms and those systems are still quite important.
  • Veeam would point out that backup and recovery are key requirements for "data center availability." If I understand it correctly, this view means that workloads must fail and be reborn on another system (physical or virtual) for the company's vision to work.  They really don't, at this time, offer any form of continuous processing in which multiple systems support workloads and work is performed by all of them. End users in this type of environment nearly never experience a failure.

So, it is clear that the company is playing its best cards and declaring that it is in a new game, one that others aren't playing. If we look at the company's products and services as of today, they are one of a large number of companies offering the ability to backup applications and data and recover them when needed. The key differentiator, Veeam would say, is that their product was designed to execute in a virtual machine environment.

While I might be missing something, it seems to me that VMware, Microsoft, Symantec, IBM Tivoli and Dell offer products that not only can backup data from executing virtual machines, but go on to support other computing environments.

One thing that is really important for me to add is that when I speak with the company's customers, I only hear accolades about the performance, reliability and how cost effective Veeam's software is in use. I also hear how simple the software is to set up and actually use. So while it is clear that the company has a ways to go before it can actually realize the vision it is articulating at VeeamON 2014, it starts this journey on the foundation of a well-received product family and a growing community.

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