VMWare Solution for Small Business

Hi, I am spec'ing a VMware solution for a small business using 2 hosts (Hp Servers, VMware Essentials Plus and Shared Storage (HP MSA or Netgrear ReadyNAS). Will be running around 10 VM's. (Windows Servers)

Anyone recomend some decent shared storage that will perform well enough (iSCSI will be fine) and then also how to backup my VM's? looked at Shadow protect by Storage Craft and also Veeam. i will have an Exchange 2010 Server so need that backed up properly (Flush logs) and also Granular restore option. Thinking of using one of those Disk Based Backup products to a cheap NAS box and even copy offsite.

Any advice appreciated..

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bgoeringConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes it does - take a look through the user guide (http://www.veeam.com/files/guide/veeam_backup_5_0_user_guide.pdf) to see how exchange is handled. You may have to do a free registration on the site to get to the use guide. Rather than a bunch of individual application agents Veeam uses common OS services like VSS in Microsoft to provide consistent backups for transactional server such as Exchange and SQL.
I have just finshed and got the approval for my project which is just like yours.

It involves 2 Dell R710 servers and a Dell MD3200i (iscsi) SAN for high availability.  I will be backing up using our existing Backup Exec 2010. what i have to add is a VMware agent to backup the virtual machines.

For now our LTO2 tape drive has  capacity to backup,  but in the future i may have to upgrade to an LTO 3 or 4 for capacity planning.  I never had much luck with the hard drive methods, so i still prefer tape.
sascottyAuthor Commented:
Thanks ProtechCT

I now use Disk based Backup solutions like Storage Craft as i can get access to restore data within 2 minutes! just find it so much easier and reliable than Tape. Any experience with the VMware Data Recovery Stuff?
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Honestly i'm just getting into it.  

I hear you about the ease of access for restores, it does take time to get the tape, perform the restore and then replace with the next nights tape.  But my problem is because i deal with medical documents that i need to maintain an "available" off-site backup in case of fire.  I not a big fan of backing up through the Internet as it takes up to much bandwith.

The VMware recovery is high on my list for understanding, but i don't have allot of feedback yet to offer.  According to Dell, Symantec and our consultants is that BE 2010 will be able to properly handle all the backup related issues involving VMware.

I have probably spent a good 40-60 hours of discovery time in putting this project together and then having to present to our CEO for approval.

Very excited as its a technology that i have been wanting to learn for a long time.  My project also provides schooling for me (company paid). In a few months i will probably have an answer for you as this project completes.

Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
I'm not sure that the ReasyNas is a good solution.  At least the MSA has two controllers even though I've also had issues with it, it is more of a SMB solution.  What is your budget for a shared storage?
Yes, go with some name brand storage such as HP, Dell, HDS, EMC... it doesn't pay to cut corners on storage for vms. Another caveat - for whatever internal storage you will have on your ESX or ESXi servers, unless you never plan on hosting any VMs on internal storage, I would strongly recommend that you get an internal RAID controller that has battery backed write caching.

Veeam is a good backup solution and fits well with the essentials package.

Good Luck
sascottyAuthor Commented:
Thanks for all the advice. Does Veeam Backup Exchange correctly and allow granular restore options?
markzzConnect With a Mentor Commented:
You have said you purchased VMWare Essentisals Plus..
Doesn't this entitle you to use VCB and Data Recovery Manager.
I do think your easiest solution would be a dedicated thirdparty solution like Vizioncore's vRanger Pro www.vizioncore.com/product/vRangerPro or as suggested the Veeam Backup product.
VCB is a very workable solution and is for you free but it has it's querks and can be a challenge to setup.
Data Recovery Manager is the easiest solution you will ever lay your hands on but as it's a VM it's self you have to ask your self if this is an exposure you can deal with.

On the SAN side.........
As suggested, DON'T skimp. if any piece of your environment will be stressed it will be your storage.
OK the HP solution is OK but for the money I would look at the SMB NetApp offerings.eg. the 2020 which I believe is about 12K.

Paul SolovyovskyConnect With a Mentor Senior IT AdvisorCommented:
The Netapp is a great choice, the deduplication will save you quite a bit of storage.  With a single controller and SATA drives it's more towards $16K and with dual controllers and SAS drives it's lower 20s.  Another option is the FAS2050, more expandability and about the same price now.

If you're looking for starter SANs the Dell MD3000i is a decent option as well as the newer HP MSA but I agree Mark, it's not the piece of equipment you want to skimp on.

If you're getting a SAN you can save on hard drives on the ESX hosts since you'll have HA you can use flash drives to run ESX and save on that front.  The DL360 G6,G7 fully support it.
sascottyAuthor Commented:
So, just to clarify. I need to backup my VM's using some sort of disk based backup (Data Recovery, Veeam, vRanger Pro) to maybe a cheap NAS. This will allow me to restore my VM's should I have a SAN failure. Is this correct practice? (On an SMB Budget)
Paul SolovyovskyConnect With a Mentor Senior IT AdvisorCommented:
@sasacotty:  That is correct.  You could also backup using OS based methods such as NTBackup or Backup Exec to tape but the restore is more complicated and time consuming.
That is the idea.
You could for instance use a low end, old server as your backup server.
The hardware requirements are not very high but you will need quite a lot of disk space.
In one branch office where we have a requirement to backup the guest sessions I have used a very simple solution of a HP DC7700 Tower. Put into it a hardware SATA raid controller (I think it's an Adaptec 1430).. and 4x 500GB harddrives.
The HDD are mirrored into raid1 pairs. I have 500GB for the system and other things and 500GB as a backup store. It runs Windows XP and vRanger Pro as the backup software.
It's a very cheap and easy solution. But of course it is still a PC with SATA disks..
On a SMB budget this may well be an achieveable solution. I would however add some type of tape backup so you could have long term recovery points.
Always remember the point that backups aren't very important until you need them.
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