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ESXi, FastSCP, RCLI & Backups


We've been playig with ESXi as a cost-effective solution for virtualization for small businesses, and as a better-performing virtualization platform than VMWare Server (windows version).  It seems great and simple--with one exception.  Backup of the actual VM's.

Of course we'll use Backup Exec for the basic backup system (files and folders, Exchange server, etc.), but we need a way to routinely and automatically back up the individual VM's (including the VMDK and associated files) for each VM.  

What I planned on doing was use the RCLI (or even the Linux virtual appliance VIMA) to script:

1. Stop all VM's
2. Backup the VM files/folders to a different system (another file server or NAS)
3. Start the VM's back up.

I installed the RCLI on my Windows workstation (which will ulitmately become a utility/management workstation), but using it isnt' near as easy as the VMWare Server (Windwos) version of vmware-cmd.  I get the error below when trying to connect to the ESXi host (See below).

So, my questions are:

1. Is the method I've described above (RCLI + a scheduled FastSCP job) the best way to back u p the entire VM?  
2. Assuming this is the best way to do it, any idea on the error below?  Should I be logging in as a different user other than root?

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware VI Remote CLI\bin>vmware-cmd.pl -H 192.168.
Enter username: root
Enter password:
Use of uninitialized value in index at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware VI Remote RCLI\bin\vmware-cmd.pl line 323.
Use of uninitialized value in split at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware VI R
emote CLI\bin\vmware-cmd.pl line 327.
Use of uninitialized value in string eq at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware
VI Remote CLI\bin\vmware-cmd.pl line 336.
Use of uninitialized value in string eq at C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware
VI Remote CLI\bin\vmware-cmd.pl line 360.

Invalid config path.

C:\Program Files (x86)\VMware\VMware VI Remote CLI\bin>
Uptime Legal Systems
Uptime Legal Systems
1 Solution
If you are looking for alternatives to backup your VMs, try this - http://www.trilead.com/Products/VM_Explorer/
Uptime Legal SystemsAuthor Commented:

Could the snapshot feature accomplish full VM backups?  I see that when I create a snapshot, it makes a snapshot file thats almsot as large as the VMDK files.  Could I, for example, script creation of a snapshot, then script copying of the snapshot files to another NAS or file server?

What I'm REALY trying to accomplish (to clarify) is backing up the VM's in their entirety to a different network device (file server, NAS, etc.)  So that--if the entire ESXi host goes belly up, I could copy the VM backups to a new ESXi server, and start them up there.  
Uptime Legal SystemsAuthor Commented:

Thanks!  I checked out their site.  At first glance it seems pretty slick.  A few questions (if you know--things they did not cover on their site)

1. Does their backup do a "hot" backup of the VM's--IE back them up while they're in use?
2. Or--if not--is there functionality to schedule the stopping, backup, and starting of the VM's?
3. Does the free edition back up to a NAS or non BSD platform okay?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
Another option is to use vConverter.  This will allow you to do a V2V to another ESX/ESXi Server or to a windows based VM.  Once you have a backup you can use vConverter to push back to the original ESXi Server.  Process is fairly straighforward, the only downside is that it's manual (but can be scheduled) otherwise it is inexpensive (free) and a VMWare Product.
Snapshots are not equal to backups buddy.
They are just to be used as a safety mechanism when you are deploying patches or testing a new update.

Once the VM is working as expected, the snapshot has to be deleted.

With respect to VM Explorer features, I will check and update.
You can script to do the snapshot and then copy the original files to you backup location.
After the backup delete snapshot because if you have many snapshots then you have poor perfomance.
Did you go through this page ? - http://www.trilead.com/Products/VM_Explorer/Compare/
Uptime Legal SystemsAuthor Commented:
I did yes.  I'm going to play with this product today.
Cool. Let me know the results.
Uptime Legal SystemsAuthor Commented:
I played with the demo.  Its pretty slick.  The only thing the free version won't do is allow you to schedule backup jobs.  Though the professional version is ~$600, which is very reasonable.

Have you (or has anyone) used this in a production environment?
Do you (or anyone) know if you can back up to a network location, such as a UNC path?

It APPEARS to only allow backups to the local PC (The PC you're running VMExplorer from) which is kind of a bummer.  (Not real enterprise to only be able to back up to some PC.)
I have not used this in Production as I was doing a POC for backing up VMs.
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