Interview with Anton Gostev about “Agentless” Backup

Hi everybody,

as you might know Veeam do not install backup agents on the VMs to process application aware and application- and filesystem consistent backups. Veeam looks into the VM and it´s applications and register plus start an according run time environment that allow application aware backups.

We had lately an internal discussion about this topic and Anton Gostev Vice President of Product Management at Veeam Software allowed me to share his thoughts and ideas behind Veeam’s unique approach.

Andreas Neufert:  “Let´s talk first about the definition of Agents. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_agent an Agent is defined as an installed software piece that stays on the servers. Veeam´s unique functionality register (install) start and unregister (uninstall) his run time environment just for job processing. Anton why do you think this is better than installed agents? ”

Anton Gostev: “All problems which cause issue known as “agent management hell” are brought by the persistency requirement
…(of that Agents from other solutions)…

– Need to constantly deploy agents to newly appearing VMs
– Need to update agents on all VMs
– Need to babysit agents on all VMs to ensure reliability (make sure it behaves correctly in the long run – memory leaks, conflicts with our software etc.)
Auto-injected temporary process addresses all of these issue, and the server stay clean of 3rd party code 99.9% of time.”

Andreas Neufert: “I think we all were at the point where we need to install a security patch in our application and have to wait till the backup vendor released a compatible backup agent version. Or I can remember that we have to boot all Servers because of a new version of such an agent (before I joined Veeam). But what happens if the Application Server/VM is down?”

Anton Gostev: “… Our architecture address the following two issues …
– Persistent agent (or in-guest process) requires VM from running at the time of backup in order to function. But no VMs are running 100% of time – some can be shutdown! We are equally impacted, however the major difference is that we do not REQUIRE that in-guest process was operating at the time of backup (all item-level recoveries are still possible, they just require a few extra steps). This is NOT the case with legacy agent-based architectures: shutdown VM means no item-level recoveries from the corresponding restore point.
– Legacy agent-based architectures require network connectivity from backup server to guest OS – rarely available, especially in secure or public cloud environments. We are not impacted, because we can failover to network-less interactions for our in-guest process. This is NOT the case with legacy agent-based architectures: for them it means no application-aware backup, and no item-level recoveries from the corresponding restore point.

Andreas Neufert: “Everyone who operate a DMZ knows the problem. You isolated the whole DMZ from your normal internal network, but the VMs need a network connection to the backup server which hold as well data from other systems. So the Veeam approach can bring additional security to the DMZ environment. Thank you Anton!”

Thanks for reading. Please send me comments if you want more interviews on this blog.

Cheers… Andy

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