What's a good backup strategy/solution with VMware involved?

Posted on 2014-10-15
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
Trying to get a backup solution in place for someone that has the following setup:

1. On Premise Dell server running VMware.
2. Single VM running Windows Server 2011 SBS Standard Edition
3. They are using Exchange, but not SQL Server or Sharepoint at this time (SQL is being used for the standard SBS things though like WSUS).
4. Have approx ten stations where we'd like to backup data files (not looking to do any type of full recovery here).

I haven't had to deal with VM's directly before and I'm not sure what a good backup strategy would be.  Do I:

1. Backup at just the host OS level.
2. Backup at the host and guest OS levels.
3. Backup at the guest level only and re-install VM Ware on a new server should this one die

 Stations I basically know how to deal with, which will be some type of file copy either via backup software or simple scripts onto the server, then backup from there.  My main concern is the server itself.

 I'm leaning towards #3, but I'm not sure if backup software is available to snapshot a volume, but also have the capability to reach into a VM and do a granular recovery of specific files or objects (such as a single mailbox).  #2 seems like overkill.

So any thoughts or suggestions on strategy and backup software?

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LVL 10

Assisted Solution

by:Senthil Kumar
Senthil Kumar earned 100 total points
ID: 40382075

Option 3 would be fine as we can quickly install vmware and deploy the VM's from the backup. Question is what if the Granular level backup required for VM's as you will not be able to restore a particluar file from the full level backup.

I suggest to buy a Backup software with virtual host agent which can take care of the Guest OS at granular level.I am comfortable with Symantec Backup exec and i suggest the below agent to be purchased along with base license

LVL 119
ID: 40382095
Hi Jim

I would recommend Veeam Backup and Replication or a similar technology which uses Agentless technology from within the OS, which is old fashioned, slow and not VM efficient

Veeam is the world leader in Virtual Backup solutions, but there are many which are now catching up.

AppAssure - Number 1 Backup and VMs and Cloud

Unitrends - a good vRecovery Backup Appliance.

Symantec Backup Exec V-Ray Edition - Unmatched backup and recovery designed for virtual and physical environments

VM Explorer - Simply, cost effective and it works.

Acronis Backup & Recovery® 11 Virtual Edition - simple but effective

StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server  - amazing but can be expensive

NAKIVO Backup & Replication for VMware - current testing proves very postiive

Take advantage of using a VM aware backup technology, and backup to a NAS (network storage, no USB here please!).
LVL 57
ID: 40382170
<<Take advantage of using a VM aware backup technology, and backup to a NAS (network storage, no USB here please!). >>

Reason on the USB?   One of the considerations is they want an off-site backup and of course their not going to walk out the door with a NAS under an arm.  On-line backup is not an option BTW as they have a limited 1.5 mb/sec connection for the office and that's the best they can get.   I haven't cleaned up all the junk lying around yet, but I'm thinking the 400-800GB range for a full backup of everything.

<<I would recommend Veeam Backup and Replication or a similar technology which uses Agentless technology from within the OS, which is old fashioned, slow and not VM efficient

  Still unclear as to the actual mechanics of the way I would want to backup; is this something that backs up at the host level and allows you to restore individual files in the guest OS?   Their on a RAID at least, so an entire drive failure is really not a major concern and I'm not looking to simply do complete volume restores.

  I've got calls in both to Symantec and Dell, but each have numerous products all of which sound basically the same.  I've already been bitten once in the past getting backup software that I thought would do one thing and did something else entirely, so I want to be sure I understand exactly how it should function.

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LVL 119

Accepted Solution

Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 400 total points
ID: 40382293

USB devices cannot be attached to the host for us, only passed through to the VM, which means we are back to OS Level backups, slow and poor, and not efficient.

The biggest issue with USB, is that VMware never designed it for attaching External USB devices, e.g. hard disks.

It was soley designed for the use of Software Key, Hardware Keys, Security Keys, or dongles in physical servers, after migration, there was an issue!

The issue, is because VMware Administrators, see the word USB, they think they can attach any USB device to the host, and use USB passthrough....

1. This is slow, as USB I/O transfer is virtualised..

2. Compatibility is an issue between hosts.

3. Compatibility is an issue with "supported" external hard disks.

4. Browse EE, it's a common problem.

(you can get NAS/USB External hard disks in one box, see Western Digital World book, which are small and portable!)

The majority of Third Party Backup solutions for VMware, work at the Host layer, and Block Copy the actual virtual disk from the Host to backup media, across the network, using CBT (change block tracking), can increase the backup speed, and reduce time, because only the changed blocks are copied (e.g. incremental delta changes!).

This leverages the Storage APIs with VMware, which reminds me, they *MUST* have a licensed version of vSphere for this! (not the FREE registered version!). Storage APIs are not available in the FREE version of third party vendors to use.

Restoring of Individual files, is available from Veeam, as another Feature, as well as complete VM restore.

Do not rely on RAID, if the datastore VMFS volume gets corrupted, with all the VMs, it happenes when RAID goes pear shaped

Ask away...

LVL 57
ID: 40382371
<<(you can get NAS/USB External hard disks in one box, see Western Digital World book, which are small and portable!)>>

 I'm just living in the past<g>....I always think of NAS as something else, which is a fair sized enclosure with a CPU, memory, and some type of OS.  I'm still not used to xTB drives in a book sized enclosure<g>

 <<Ask away...>>

 No need, that cleared things up nicely.  Thanks.

LVL 119
ID: 40382403

No problems...

Always around somewhere, you'll have my email!


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