VMWare Backup Desaster Recovery Strategy

We have two VMWare ESX Server in a cluster and a NetApp 2050, standing physically beside the ESX Server. We are running about 10 guest-servers on the ESX environment, some of them have RAW-devices mapped for their data-partitions. We are still testing this environment and having only test-systems running. We have not decided a entire backup strategie yet.

For the case of a complete disaster (serverroom burns down), we are planning to buy another server having Windows Server 2008 64bit and VMWare Server 2 installed. This machine would have a very strong hardware and enough TB to store all our VMs with their respective data. The server would stand in another room, far from the serverroom and is connected via 1GB Ethernet.

Now we are looking for a strategie to backup our ESX-VMs, so that we are able to restore the backups on the VMWare server 2. We were thinking of installing usual backup programs, e.g. "Paragon Drive Backup", and store the images on the new Windows 2008 server' s harddisk. In case of a desaster recovery, we would create new VMs, assign enough virtual harddisks with sufficient space to each machine and restore the image on the new VM, using the recovery ISO-CD of the backup-programm.
There are several problems we see here: Saving all our VM-Servers to the new 2008 server' s NTFS-share via usual backup programs would take far too long; having in mind that this must happen beside our usual backup of the ESX/Netapp environment (wich we have not madea  strategy for so far). The recovery-cd doesn' t recognize the servers network adapter, so we cannot access the images.

Any ideas on how to backup our VMs, so that we can simply restore them on the VMWare Server 2?
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Paul SolovyovskyConnect With a Mentor Senior IT AdvisorCommented:
Since you already have a NetApp 20050 you have several options.  To have online backups of your VMs Snapshot Manager for VI does a great job although you'll need to Snapmanager for SQL and Exchange to properly quiesce the databases if you're runnig them.

I would suggest Vizioncore's VReplicator or VRangar and instead of purchasing a box to support Windows 2008 and VMWare Server 2 I would recommend standing up an ESXi server.  With VReplicator and VRanager you can backup directly to a different host (I haven't tested ESXi as the destination but I believe that it's supported).

Paragon Drive Backup is a good product but it doesn't support VMWare natively.  If you're looking for an imaging product you can try Acronis TrueImage or Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server.  Both of these products will image the virtual machines and allow you to use vmware converter to directly restore backup to your Virtual Center using vConverter (it knows the formats natively).  These products can also be used to restore the images to physical servers if you ever need to.

BTW, if you have a NetApp you may want to look at NFS datastores, NetApp recommends them for VMWare implementations because of the 2X requirerements for LUNs if you're doing any Snap functions.  NFS is uses think provisioning

nappy_dConnect With a Mentor There are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
I would point you in the direction of VCB for VMWare.  Since you have a two node ESX environment, if you don't already have it, consider getting Virtual Centre Foundations.  For about $2500USD, you will get HA(High Availability, for clustering), upto 3 licenses for ESX servers and VCB.  WIth VCB, you can make snap shot copies of all your servers.  VMWare has a module for CA Arcserve as well and Backup Exec. store.vmware.com/store/vmware/en_US/DisplayProductDetailsPage/productID.82529400/

Another option to look at is VMWare SRM(Site Recovery Manager) great for complete disaster recovery scenarios for VMWare - www.vmware.com/products/srm/
Using the VCB framework you could take snapshots of live VMs on the production ESX servers.
These snapshots can be then transported to the DR server over LAN (simple file level backup/restore or an online replication solution)

In case of a disaster you use vmware converter to import the VM files into new virtual machines on the DR server.
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nappy_dThere are a 1000 ways to skin the technology cat.Commented:
mbwjkAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your comments. A problem, I think,  you did not considered yet is the fact, that we have VMs wich have RAW-Devices mapped from the NetApp. In case of a disaster-recovery, there is no more NetApp and the new server will have to provide the former RAW-device as virtual drive. So, if I only copy or save the VMDK files of our running machine (consistend or not), the recovered VM won' t have access to its data-drive (e.g. the database of our exchange server). In that scenario, would an imaging program (like Backup-Exec) do that job and provide the former RAW-device to the VM as a v-disk?
Or is there another way to backup the RAW-mapped-drive and then recover it as a v-disk?
Paul SolovyovskyConnect With a Mentor Senior IT AdvisorCommented:
With imaging software you can restore to a VMDK or a RDM or to different physical hardware.  You can use vConverter to restore the OS VMDK and them connect the LUN via RDM and restore the data partition from the OS since the imaging software is installed on the OS side.
rami_ejailatConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Check Acronis True Image Virtual Edition:
Acronis True Image Virtual Edition is a cost-effective, and scaleable solution for IT organisations that need to backup, restore, or test up to 99 virtual servers on a single, physical server  for one set price. There are no additional charges for backing up and restoring new virtual machines residing on a single host server.
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