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VMWare Consolidated Backup, how does it work?

Posted on 2010-08-23
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Hello,

We have a few ESX Servers that host many of our virtual machines, one thing we are looking to do is move from traditional back-up (Windows agent on VMWare image, backing up over TCP/IP) to using VMWare Consolidated Backup technology.

Our product is CA ArcServe r15, and I have been having a hard time finding out the "finer details" about how VCB works and the whole VMWare Proxy stuff..

Anyone already using this in their environment care to share some information?

How does a full VMWare Image back-up work, what is the role of the VMWare Proxy Server in this scenario?

Also, doing a "snapshot" backup of vmware images, how does the snapshot work because it obviously does not "backup" the full image, does this mean i would need a full vmware image backup, and the snapshot im trying to restore from for my "file restore" to work?

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks.
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Question by:mirde
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65td earned 125 total points
ID: 33507749
we are using Netbackup with VCB.  Had to download and install VCB integration utility.
The proxy server has it's own large disk it also can see the ESX disk where the VM's live.  When the Netbackup policy kicks off a snapshot is created and mounted to the proxy server where the actual backup is done.
The backup can be full (image) or files.  The snapshot is removed from the proxy when backup is complete.

Has this doc been reviewed?
http://www.ca.com/files/TechnicalDocuments/vmware_best_practice_guide.pdf

This one has a good diagram:
http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/consolidated_backup_datasheet.pdf

Also see:
https://communities.ca.com/web/ca-recovery-management-storage-global-user-community/message-board/-/message_boards/message/2251317;jsessionid=FD0E373A89BCA85BBF904D7E64C1BF7C.prodlr1

Setting up a proxy:
http://pubs.vmware.com/vi3i_i35/wwhelp/wwhimpl/common/html/wwhelp.htm?context=backup&file=vm_bug_vcb.4.9.html
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by:teledata-consulting
teledata-consulting earned 125 total points
ID: 33511035
Just to give a quick couple of answers to sum up the length of the above articles:

1) VCB uses the VCB proxy as a gateway to talk to your VMFS storage.  Your proxy machine typically has iSCSI or FC connectivity to the VMFS datastores (it is a good idea to make this view READ-ONLY, as the Windows machine has no business doing writes to the VMFS volumes).  It attaches to the VMFS, and uses the VMware snapshot to create a consistent point-in-time view of a VM.  (yes Proxy CAN access your VMFS over a network connection, but this defeats the purpose of eliminating LAN contention.)

The VCB proxy simply is providing connectivity to the datastore in order to make a copy of the VM image.  VCB images can be saved to another storage device (NAS, SAN, local disk, etc).  a VCB IS a true backup image because it is a copy of your virtual machine.

2) Snapshots are NOT backups.  They are point-in-time rollback points that give you the ability to roll-back to undo changes.  (Yes some backup software can mount different snapshots, and recover a file from a point in time, but that is really muddying the waters)  As you create additional snapshots, all future "writes" are made to a new Delta file.  Your production VM is the sum of the original vmdk (from immediately before your first snapshot) and subsequent snapshot (or deltas).  This is why you can have some disk performance impact when running a VM with snapshots, because VMware has to "add all your deltas together" to access the "whole" Virtual Machine.

Snapshots are used to CREATE VCB images, but snapshots themselves ARE NOT BACKUPS, and NOT a Disaster Recovery strategy.  Think of snapshots as a series of "point-in-time" undo buttons.

Also, before you dive TOO deep into VCB you should start looking at various solutions that leverage the vStorage API.  VCB has several limitations, and there are much more robust solutions out there.  That said I still use VCB for quick one-offs, or a very simple "Snap-to-cheap-storage" poor-man's backups.  (like a script that VCB snaps to a USB drive, or a cheap NAS)
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Author Closing Comment

by:mirde
ID: 33533530
Thanks for your input, this explains a lot about VCBs and VCB Proxies.

And we are probably going to go with VCB rather than vStorage as its a cheaper solution.
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