Backup Proxies are not the Enemy

I’ve sat through a few VMUG sessions, webex presentations and sales pitches from newer, “cooler” backup vendors (you know who you are) who have made the argument that proxies were the enemy, they were up to no good and they provide nothing but complexity and annoyance for anyone who managed them. This point came up usually around the time where they showed a PowerPoint of their solution compared to the other vendors out there like IBM (with Spectrum Protect for Virtual Environments) or Veeam.

And yes, I get that for the average enterprise, the need/requirement of having to deploy a few proxies (or many) can be annoying but my guess is that it’s probably mostly because of the cost and the fact that getting them deployed by someone can take anywhere from days to weeks (depending on how siloed up they are). But most of that is probably not the proxies fault.

Personally, for me it takes around 2 hours to deploy Veeam setup from start to finish. That includes creating networks, 3 VMs (Console, Repository, Proxy (if needed)) and mapping some storage to the repository VM. So hey, not that big of a deal.

But why are they not the enemy? All I’ve said so far is that they are not that bad. Well, for me the proxies provide a lot of flexibility purely networking wise. They enable restores directly to the VMs from my repository. But why is that so? To explain that you have to understand how our products are built.

I won’t go into too much details about it here but the short and sweet is that my customers VMs are not able to reach/talk to the infrastructure that they are running on top of. So in short, a VM is not able to reach the veeam infrastructure directly and the veeam infrastructure is not able to reach the VMs. This is not due to firewall limitations, this is due to the, being on separate routed networks where we don’t decide what IP space they use = a lot of overlapping address space. All this is by design. So as you can see by this, restores can be difficult it proxies weren’t around.

What the proxies do for me is provide me with a machine that I can dual home (ie 2 NICs). Have the gateway on the customers routed network and then having a few (3) static routes to the things that it needs to reach on my network (VMware infrastructure, Veeam infrastructure) and then I’m good and the customer can now do his restores as he pleases. This does require the customer to forfeit the use of 3 /24 subnets but that is never an issue.

Rubrik has asked a few times if I had plans to begin using their agents to do in-guest backups. I’ve said no every time and given them a detailed explanation as to why that is. For the customers that I have who use Veeam as a method of backing up application level items (or just file level), the proxies are a critical component and as such, they cannot be moved to a competing product until that product has the same functionality.

So that’s why I think that proxies are great. They provide a lot of flexibility. A lot more than annoyance and complexity if you ask me 🙂

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