The hype was intense for the Veeam announcement. 16,000 attendees taking time out of their workday and waiting with bated breath for the webinar to reveal “the biggest announcement in Veeam’s history.” What occurred in the next two hours dropped the viewership of the webinar from 16,000 to approximately 4,000, with a lot of viewers expressing severe disappointment at the chasm between reality and hype in the Veeam announcement. The online chat was bogged down with messages like these:
“Has anyone noticed the # of viewers is dropping? Veeam couldn’t give a rats petootie, but I think it’s hilarious watching this implode on them ”
“Viewers down to 4370 [from 16000]”
“Veeam should know….they did a great job with the hype…..are they landing with a thud?? ”
The thud was resounding, so much so, that when they made the big reveal, the presenter had to ask for an applause from the crowd. The messages continued as they announced one product after another, discussed changes in their licensing and fielded questions from users about the increased cost of their new product offering. Not surprisingly, bored attendees began searching for better products and made it known on the live chat:
“I just finished downloading my Unitrends eval …”
“I am starting to like Unitrends more and more the longer this goes on…”
“Unitrends it is then …”
When an announcement that was heralded as the biggest ever in the history of Veeam fails to ignite the audience, there is something important missing. From our view, that something was the element of innovation, of revealing something new and better.
Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Veeam Announcement Reveals Still Playing Catch-Up
Since their inception, Veeam has adamantly denied the importance and prevalence of physical infrastructure in the data center. Their world revolved around the virtualization bubble and that is all they could see. But it is never too late to realize that to truly protect a customer environment, protecting physical workloads are critical. We welcome Veeam in this space. It’s funny that they eventually decided to pursue heterogeneity now, while Unitrends has focused on heterogeneous support for over a decade and provides protection for hundreds of types of operating systems, applications, hypervisors and storage systems.
Let’s take a closer look at the new Veeam offering, which they said is scheduled for general availability in Q4 2016.
Veeam Announcement Includes Support for Physical Workloads via an Agent for Microsoft Windows and Linux
Veeam will release a Workstation and Server product licensed per agent in addition to a stripped down Free product for their agent support of Linux and Windows. As they made the announcement of the oddly complex matrix of agents and associated licensing, there was a flurry of feedback by viewers worried about complexity of management and the increasing cost due to Veeam’s agent fee model. Apart from this being a v1.0 version from Veeam for physical machines and the execution risk it brings, with hardware dynamics completely different from the virtual world Veeam is familiar with, the offering also comes with some significant disadvantages.
1. Deep virtualization: Veeam still does not have the capability to address application specific protection where the Recovery Point Objective/Recovery Time Objective (RPO/RTO) goals of an application can be different than that of the server itself.
2. Windows instant recovery: Their documentation states that the Windows servers can be instantly recovered only to Hyper-V, which is a significant limitation as compared to Unitrends where you can spin a physical Windows machine on the Unitrends appliance or Hyper-V or VMware environments.
Veeam Announcement Includes Veeam Availability Orchestrator
Unitrends is the undisputed leader when it comes to assured recovery and providing compliance-based reporting against RTO and RPO goals. Therefore, it is not surprising that Veeam would try to imitate us. Unfortunately, they missed the mark here. Based on the presentations and the product information provided, their orchestrator only integrates with their replication product and not their backup product. Veeam ignores the requirement that customers with a single premise also desire assured recovery. If the backups are replicated to a cloud provider or to a secondary site, Veeam Availability Orchestrator is of no use as it will not be able to orchestrate and automate recovery. Unitrends offers a comprehensive offering of assured, orchestrated and automated recovery with compliance reporting both on-premise and in the cloud (private, partner led or Unitrends Cloud). In addition, Unitrends can automate and orchestrate recovery testing for physical and virtual workloads, which Veeam’s offering lacks.
Veeam Announcement Includes Protection for Office 365
Veeam announced support for Office 365. Office 365 is making significant inroads in the enterprise and we applaud the direction that Veeam has taken to protect it. However, Veeam’s vision and execution is incomplete. To say that Office 365 users only need email protection is like saying a deck of cards only has spades. Office 365 is comprised of email as well as SharePoint and OneDrive. That is Microsoft’s complete ecosystem. Unitrends is launching full support for Office 365, with protection for email/Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business. Unitrends Cloud Backup for Office 365 is in Beta today and will be available in September. In addition, Veeam’s implementation of Office 365 support leaves a lot of questions unanswered with respect to recoverability performance and exposure if the on-premise Veeam instance were to get compromised with ransomware or malware—a condition that plagues all of Veeam’s offerings, not just Office 365 protection.
Veeam Announcement IncludesVeeam Availability Console
Veeam announced an availability console, which sounds like one more user interface that customers and partners must learn. Veeam has a plethora of offerings and each one has its own user interface, which by no means are simple to learn. As new offerings get included under the Veeam umbrella, a user must seriously look at the cost of ownership, which is staggering given the complexity of the products. In comparison, Unitrends places a high priority on user interface design and delivers an extremely simple, intuitive user experience.
What the Veeam Announcement Lacked
While the Veeam announcement described the features stated above and included a sneak preview of v10 of their product, what Veeam did not address was the foundational limitations of their portfolio:
1. Storage consumption and job management: Veeam is known to be extremely inefficient in managing backup storage. Their poor deduplication means customers shell out a lot more money over time to add storage to meet their retention needs. While Veeam announced better integration with the Microsoft ReFS file system, their deduplication and storage consumption was not addressed.
2. Veeam still does not offer an integrated cloud option with a guaranteed SLA on-site recovery. While Veeam partners sell cloud services, there are no guarantees of recovery or standard pricing, and customers cannot choose to use a hyperscale cloud (Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Nearline, etc.) like they can with Unitrends. Veeam’s pitifully narrow cloud offering is just another weakness in the Veeam portfolio that was not addressed in their “big” announcement.
So while Veeam built the hype and got 16K folks excited enough to take time out of their busy days, all Veeam announced was a platform to fast follow what the enterprise players like Unitrends already offer. Once again, Veeam is playing technical catch-up and trying to imitate the comprehensive continuity that Unitrends customers have used and loved for years.
Note: The observations in this blog are based on the limited information available from Veeam at the time of posting.