Veeam Availability Console series #4: Monitor a remote Veeam Backup server

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In the previous posts of this series, we completed the configuration of Veeam Availability Console, and onboarded our first customer. The customer logged into his own account and configured the different services. Now in this fourth part, we are going to connect a remote Veeam Backup server in order to monitor it.
NOTE: I waited for the GA version of the Veeam Availability Console, that was released on 14th November 2017. This is because one of the issues that was fixed between the Beta version I used in the previous posts and this GA version was related to the certificates created with Let’s Encrypt that I use in my Cloud Connect installation. They are totally supported in GA version. There’s also a new Patch that you can obtain by reading Veeam KB2418.

Connect a remote VBR server to VAC

To collect data from managed servers and run data protection operations on these servers, Veeam Availability Console uses management agents. The management agent is a tiny service that we can deploy on the Windows machines running Veeam Backup & Replication, Veeam Backup Enterprise Manager, or the client computers that will be protected with Veeam Agent for Windows. The VAC Agent can be downloaded directly from VAC itself.
The way we connect a remote VBR to VAC is by using Cloud Connect. When VBR v9.0 was launched, many asked the meaning of the check box in the setup wizard at the client side “Allow this Veeam Backup & Replication installation to be managed by the service provider”:
That was the preliminary step in introducing VAC, and this option is what we need to flag in order to connect this VBR installation to VAC. Once we verified the certificates and thus the validity of the connection towards our service provider, we enter the credentials of the tenant owner (the master account) to complete the registration. Even if no Cloud Connect service has been assigned to this customer, this procedure is needed anyway to connect VBR to VAC for remote monitoring. You can see that the VAC Agent (management agent) is automatically downloaded and installed as part of the configuration of Cloud Connect:
Note: in order to deploy automatically the VAC management agent to a remote VBR server, there’s an additional firewall configuration needed into the VAC+VCC environment. The Cloud Gateways need to connect to the back-end VAC server using TCP ports 2500-5000.
Once the VAC agent is installed, you can see in the VBR server the new icon in the tray:
and you can open the Agent Settings to verify the connection status:

Status and operational information

As soon as the remote Veeam Backup & Replication Server is connected to VAC via the management agent, VAC starts immediately to collect information about the remote VBR itself. The provider can open one of the managed customers, listed as “Companies”, and in the “Backup Infrastructure” he can see immediately an overview of the remote VBR:
In my example, the remote infrastructure has 1 VBR server, 1 Enterprise Manager server, 1 backup proxy and 4 different repositories. All of them are in a good state, as indicated by the Health State section. There are many information available to both the Service Provider managing the remote customer, and the customer itself, like the status of the configured jobs. By going into the Backup Jobs section, you can see the configured jobs at the customer:
NOTE: if you don’t see any job, it’s because the default view is set to “Backup Agents”, just select “Backup Servers” at the top.
Here, you can do some nice things: first, you see the latest result of any job, the last execution, duration and transferred data. Then, you can also do maintenance on those jobs like manually starting and stopping each of them, or disable them at all if needed. All of this without connecting remotely to the customer VBR server.
One feature that is really welcome by every Managed Service Provider is “Download Logs”: previously, when there have been an issue at the customer, the provider had to find ways to connect to the remote VBR and grab the logs in order to send them to Veeam support. Now, this operation can be done directly from VAC, without involving the customer at all.
One last useful information I want to show you is about licensing: VAC can manage automatically the licensing of all the connected Veeam Agent for Windows (it will be the topic of a future post of this series), but even for remote VBR machines, it can at least check the licensing status and send out warnings. In my case, you can see the very first alarm is about “Backup server support contract expiration”, and that’s because the license of the remote VBR server is about to expire. Even if I don’t open the console daily, VAC is going to notify the provider and the customer about this alarm by email. This is the notification to the customer:
A notification is also sent to the provider, with details about which customer is affected:
The notification is sent out 14 days before the expiration date, just like in a standalone installation. This gives both the provider (in case of a managed service) or the customer plenty of time to update the license. We’ll see in the next post how to do remote management of the VBR machine, and we’ll use that connection also to show how a provider can update the license.