Veeam has supported the StoreOnce platform since v8, but only through SMB (err... CIFS?) protocol. With the immanent release of Veeam 9—with support for Catalyst—I decided to give the free product a try and see how it works with v8, v9, and what the upgrade/migration process looks like.
HPE offers the StoreOnce VSA in several variants (ESXi stand-alone, vCenter-managed and Hyper-V) and is very easy to deploy, configure and use through its integrated browser-based admin tool. Adding a storage pool is as simple as attaching a 1TB virtual disk to the VM (ideally, on a secondary HBA) before initialization.
Creating SMB shares is trivial, but if the appliance is configured to use Active Directory authentication, share access must be configured through the Windows Server Manager MMC snap-in; while functional, it's about as cumbersome as one might think. StoreOnce owners would be well-served if HPE added permission/access functionality into the administrative console. Using local authentication eliminates this annoyance, and is possibly the better answer for a dedicated backup appliance...but I digress.
|StoreOnce fileshare configuration
|Veeam 9 file manager
Administrative negatives aside, the StoreOnce platform does a nice job of optimizing storage use with good dedupe ratios. Prior to implementing StoreOnce (with Veeam 8, so only SMB access), I was using Veeam-native compression & deduplication on a Linux-based NAS device. With no other changes to the backup files, migrating them from the non-dedupe NAS to StoreOnce resulted in an immediate 2x deduplication ratio; modifying the Veeam jobs to dedupe appliance-aware settings (eg, no compression at storage) saw additional gains in dedupe efficiency. After upgrading to Veeam 9 (as a member of a partner organization, I have early to the RTM build)—and going through the time-consuming process of migrating the folders from File to Catalyst—my current status is approaching 5x, giving me the feeling that dedupe performance may be superior on the Catalyst stores as compared to File shares. As far as I'm concerned, this is already pretty impressive dedupe performance (given that the majority of the job files are still using sub-optimal settings) and I'm looking forward to increasing performance as the job files cycle from the old settings to dedupe appliance-optimized as retention points are aged out.
|Appliance performance during simultaneous read, write operations
Note: Veeam's deduplication appliance support—which is required for Catalyst—is only available with Enterprise (or Enterprise Plus) licensing. The 60-day trial license includes all Enterprise Plus features and can be used in conjunction with the free 1TB StoreOnce appliance license to evaluate this functionality in your environment, whether you are a current Veeam licensee or not.
With the official release of Veeam B&R v9, Catalyst and StoreOnce are now available to those of you holding the Enterprise B&R licenses. I will caution you, however, to use a different method of converting from shares to Catalyst than I used. Moving the files does work, but it's not a good solution: you don't get to take advantage of the per-VM backup files that is a feature of v9 (if a backup starts with a monolithic file, it will continue to use it; only creating a new backup—or completely deleting the existing files—will allow per-VM files to be created. This is the preferred format for Catalyst, and the dedupe engine will work more efficiently with per-VM files than it will with monolithic files; I'm sure there's a technical reason for it, but I can vouch for it in practice. Prior to switching to per-VM files, my entire backup footprint, even after cycling through the monolithic files to eliminate dedupe-unfriendly elements like job-file compression, consumed over 1TB of raw storage with a dedupe ratio that never actually reached 5:1. After discarding all those jobs and starting fresh with cloned jobs and per-VM files, I now have all of my backups & restore points on a single 1TB appliance with room to spare and a dedupe ratio currently above 5:1.
I'm still fine-tuning, but I'm very pleased with the solution.