vSphere 5.5 and Veeam Backup & Replication: important design news on the horizon!

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vSphere 5.5 is now available, and along with it also there is a new version of the SDK (software developement kit) named VDDK 5.5. VDDK is the libraries set used by all VMware partners to operate with vSphere virtual disks in order to do their backups. Just like all the releases in the past few years, partners had no access to the final release of the SDK before vSphere 5.5 went out, so the update activities to their Data Protection solutions can be started now.

This is an important information in order to understand why usually Data Protection software have a certain delay in supporting the last version of vSphere. However, VDDK support is mandatory for every third party vendor in order to be certified by VMware. Veeam Backup & Replication is not different, so we should have to wait for some time before it will officially support vSphere 5.5. Usually Veeam guys are really quick with these updates, and they already stated the official support will be available by the end of 2013.

While you are waiting for the new version, and you keep your production environment at vSphere 5.1 (wise move!), you can start to evaluate the impact of an important change in your architecture that VDDK will bring, and if it’s the case go and change your infrastructure to be ready.

The news is: In vSphere 5.5 vStorage API for Data Protection (VDDK) will be available only in the 64 bit version. This change is really important, and will require you to have all your backup systems be hosted on 64 bit operating systems. In Veeam Backup & Replication, this means one thing: Proxies should be installed on 64 bit Windows OSes, while right now you can choose between 32 or 64 bit.

Honestly, since Windows 2008 I always used only 64 bit sysmtes, also because Microsoft has only released 64 bit OS since Windows 2008 R2. We have all known since Windows 2003 x64, 64 bit OSes would have been the future: the capability to manage large memory sizes and larger disks are two requirements in order to manage bigger and bigger hardware, and from a Veeam point of view this means the ability to manage larger and larger backup sets.

Several users however has taken advantage of the 32 bit compatibility to reuse old licenses already acquired, and I often found instalation made on Windows XP, Windows 2003 or Windows 2008, all in their 32 bit versions. But when backup sets started to grow, these platforms started to show their limits, even if in some small environments those limits did not appeared. With the release of VDDK 5.5, regardless what the backup size is, you should have to replace those installations, since you cannot upgrade directly a 32 bit Windows with a 64 bit one.

We all have at least a month before the new Veeam version will arrive. If you want to be ready to install vSphere 5.5 and protect it with Veeam as soon as the new version will arrive, it’s time to upgrade your proxies.