Virtualized Exchange Servers in Distributed Configurations
As previously described, Backup Exec supports modern image-level (“agentless”) protection of VMware and Hyper-V virtual machines, including virtual machines hosting applications such as Exchange. It’s important to note that Backup Exec does not currently support image-level backups of virtualized Exchange servers in a distributed configuration. Only virtual standalone Exchange servers are supported for image-level backup and granular recovery.
In order to achieve granular recovery support of virtualized Exchange servers in a distributed configuration, such as an Exchange 2010 Database Availability Group (DAG), the virtual machines must be protected using agent-based backups, which essentially treats each virtual machine as if it were a standalone, physical system.
Note: Backup Exec does not support granular recovery of Exchange 2013 mailbox objects. This functionality is planned for a later release of Backup Exec.
Protection of Physical Exchange Servers
For physical Exchange servers, the Agent for Windows is installed locally to the Exchange server. The Agent for Windows interacts with the physical Exchange server to prepare the Exchange databases for backup and to transmit backup data to the Backup Exec server over the NDMP protocol.
Backup of Physical Exchange Servers
VSS Integration and Physical Exchange Servers
Backups of physical Exchange servers that are captured by the Agent for Windows are snapshot backups performed using Microsoft’s VSS Writers (the only exception is Exchange 2003, which does not have a VSS writer). In most cases, Backup Exec uses a VSS full backup, which ensures that Exchange is placed into a consistent state at the time of backup and also truncates transaction logs, a key element of maintaining a healthy database application over time.
The Agent for Windows can only protect Exchange components of a server after the Agent for Applications and Databases has been licensed within Backup Exec.
Granular Application Recovery of Physical Exchange Servers
In addition to preparing physical Exchange servers for backup and transmitting Exchange backup data to the Backup Exec server for storage, the Agent for Windows also plays a key role during Exchange recovery. For example, the presence of the Agent for Windows locally installed to a physical Exchange server enables the Backup Exec server to directly transmit and restore granular Exchange objects back to the production Exchange environment of an organization.
Offhost Backups of Physical Exchange Servers
Backup Exec also supports offhost backups of physical Exchange servers. Offhost backups help alleviate the processing overhead of backup operations from the physical Exchange server and transfer them to the Backup Exec server.
For more information on Backup Exec and configuring offhost backups of physical Exchange servers, refer to the Backup Exec Administrator’s Guide and the following technote: http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO12231.
Granular Application Recovery of Exchange Virtual Machines
To enhance Backup Exec’s virtual machine protection and recovery capabilities, particularly when the virtual machine is hosting Exchange, the Agent for Windows should be installed into the guest virtual machine itself. In this configuration, Backup Exec can still capture snapshot-based, image-level backups of the destination virtual machine, but can then also offer dynamic application discovery capabilities and granular recovery of Exchange application components, all from a single-pass backup. In other words, even with the Agent for Windows installed to the virtual machine, the backup process remains what is known in the industry as an “agentless” backup; the presence of the Agent for Windows within the virtual machine simply allows for application metadata capture and granular recovery of application objects directly back to the original virtual machine.
Agent for Windows Enables Granular Recovery of Virtualized Exchange Servers
While Backup Exec fully supports protecting virtualized Exchange servers without installing the Agent for Windows to the virtual machine, recovery options are limited in this configuration. When the Agent for Windows is not present on the Exchange virtual machine, Backup Exec has no direct knowledge of Exchange being present on the virtual machine, and recovery options are limited to full virtual machine recovery and file/folder recovery.
Application-specific recovery features are only available when the Agent for Windows is installed to the Exchange virtual machine, which allows Backup Exec to discover the Exchange application and capture the Exchange metadata needed to enable application-specific recovery features.
VSS Integration and Virtualized Exchange Servers
When protecting virtualized Exchange servers, Backup Exec utilizes Microsoft’s VSS service to prepare the Exchange virtual machine for backup and truncation of Exchange transaction logs. For VMware environments, these VSS calls are made to the Agent for Windows on the Exchange virtual machine through interactions with the vStorage API, and involves the VSS writer on the virtual machine. The VSS writer will be either the VSS writer included with VMware Tools, or the Backup Exec VSS writer that is installed with the Agent for Windows. For Hyper-V environments, a similar process happens through interactions with the Hyper-V host via the local Agent for Windows agent installed to the Hyper-V host. The VSS writer that is used to prepare the virtual machine for backup will be either the VSS writer installed to the virtual machine along with Hyper-V Integration Services, or the Backup Exec VSS writer that is installed with the Agent for Windows.
With either VMware or Hyper-V environments, Backup Exec invokes a virtual machine-level VSS full backup, which prepares Exchange for the virtual machine snapshot event and truncates Exchange transaction logs. If the Agent for Windows is installed to the Exchange virtual machine, the VSS backup method can be changed to a VSS copy, which will not truncate log files.
For more information, refer to the following technote: http://www.symantec.com/docs/HOWTO74082.
We have become a species of information addicts – the “information explosion” is affecting the everyday lives of office workers. What is crystal clear is that we are all suffering from a 21st century ailment – Information Overload – and it is taking over our personal lives, working lives, and our businesses.
Businesses need to protect a broad range of information, generated in a plethora of ways, through multiple applications used by billions of individuals around the world. Organisations not only need to protect their information and IT infrastructure, but need to be aware of how the infrastructure facilitates the sharing and use of the information used by the organisation between, not just connections among colleagues, but linking businesses, from businesses to consumers, as well as between consumers themselves. In other words, all the collaborative environments, and the movement of data while in use.
Accessing work information out of hours, compulsively checking emails, texts and social media and hoarding endless emails and multiple versions of the same file are all symptoms of information overload. But the technology enabling us to be more productive (fantastic mobile devices and faster connectivity) together with the mismanagement of information is actually counter-productive.
Email is Business Critical
Email has become an indispensable way of communicating and transferring data in the modern electronic age. In the year 2010, it was estimated that almost 300 billion emails were sent each day, and around 90 trillion emails were sent every year. Considering the rate at which data continues to increase year-over-year, the number of emails sent today is likely significantly greater. Email is used for many forms of communication, including business critical communications for companies of all sizes.
Companies rely heavily upon email systems to conduct day-to-day business operations, and any significant period where access to email is lost is considered to be highly intolerable.
All email solutions used by modern businesses are based upon a server infrastructure hosting an email software system. Whether hosted locally on physical or virtualized servers, hosted by a partner, or hosted in the cloud, these email software systems support the incredible amount of email transmissions that happen every day, and can be implemented in many different sizes and configurations. Perhaps the most common and popular email system used in the industry today is Microsoft Exchange.
Because Microsoft Exchange plays such a critical role in the ability for organizations to conduct day-to-day business, it’s equally critical that companies employ protection solutions that enable them to quickly and easily recover their Exchange system should a data loss or disaster event occur. Backup and recovery solutions of the highest value will offer features that enable the following:
- Functionality designed specifically for Microsoft Exchange
- Protection of Exchange while it remains online and functional
- Ability to protect physical Exchange servers as well as virtualized Exchange systems
- Support for highly available Exchange configurations
- Adherence to Microsoft best practices for Exchange backup and recovery
- Optimization of secondary (backup) storage using data deduplication technology
- Support for local as well as offsite storage of backup data
- Multiple levels of recovery from a single-pass backup
Symantec Backup Exec
For many years, the Symantec Backup Exec product family has offered market-leading solutions for the protection of Microsoft Exchange, and solves each of the key problems mentioned above. The Agent for Applications and Databases offers purpose-built functionality to ensure Microsoft Exchange is properly protected against disaster and to help partners and customers quickly and easily perform any level of Exchange recovery, whether it’s bare metal recovery of a physical Exchange server, granular recovery of an individual Exchange email, or anything in between.
Key benefits of Backup Exec include the ability to:
- Reduce business downtime
- Eliminate complexity
- Spend less time managing backups
- Ensure critical information on virtual or physical systems is always protected
- Restore data in seconds
- Reduce storage and management costs
- Optimise network utilisation
- Eliminate redundant additional backup jobs
- Provide granular recovery of data for applications and databases
Backup Exec and Integrated Archiving for Exchange – Part XI … More Performance Notes and Recommendations
Archiving Backups Stored to Tape
The Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option does not currently support archiving from backup data stored to tape media.
Backup Storage Types Supported for Exchange Archiving
In order to be eligible for archiving, backup sets must be stored to one of the following storage location types:
- Non-removable disk storage
- Deduplication disk storage
- A storage array in a Storage Provisioning Option environment
Data Removal Best Practices
It is recommended that vault store properties be set so that items are deleted from the original location only after vault stores are backed up. This is the default setting. Schedule vault store backups (full or incremental) to run between every run of archive tasks. That way, every archive task will be able to remove those items from the original location that were archived by the previous run of the archive task, thereby providing storage savings on the primary system and its subsequent backups.
End User Recovery of Archived Emails
The Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option provides the user-friendly Virtual Vault feature designed to make end user recovery of archived emails a very simple and painless process. It is recommended that Backup Exec 2012 SP2 administrators take full advantage of this feature. For details on configuring Virtual Vault for end users, please refer to the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Administrator’s Guide Addendum.
Archive Storage Configuration Best Practices
Configure your backup destination storage to use different disks than your vault store partitions. This will give better performance for archive tasks that read data from backup sets and ingest the data into archives, as reading and ingestion processes will have separate physical disk resources at their disposal.
Configure your archive indexing location to use different disks than your vault store partitions. This will give better performance for archive tasks that index data as it is being archived, as indexing and ingestion processes will have separate physical disk resources at their disposal.
Microsoft Outlook Required
The Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option requires Outlook 2007 SP2 (including Microsoft hot fix 968858) to be installed to the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 server. Microsoft Outlook should be installed before installing the Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option.
Before installing the Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option, be sure that DNS has been configured correctly. The Backup Exec 2012 SP2 server adds its own alias into DNS, and Symantec has found that a large percentage of customer issues relating to the installation and configuration of the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option are related to environments where DNS is not configured correctly. The installation wizard will prompt for a fully qualified domain name in order to create the DNS alias.
Exchange Objects not archived by an Exchange Mailbox Archiving Task
The following Exchange objects are not valid candidates for archiving tasks:
- Mail messages that have pending reminders
- Any Exchange items other than mail messages, such as address book entries and calendar items
- Mail messages in Exchange managed folders, journal mailboxes, or in public folders
First Exchange Archive Task Performance
The first time an Exchange archive task is run, it will find a large number of mail messages that are valid candidates for archiving. This can result in an Exchange archive task taking a substantial amount of time to finish the first time it is run. Subsequent runs of the Exchange archive task will only pick up messages that became eligible since the last run, and will not take as long.
It is advisable to plan around the first run of Exchange archive tasks by scheduling it to run over the weekend or over a longer block of available time. Another approach would be to add mailboxes to archive tasks in phases rather than all at once.
Archive Task Scheduling Recommendations
Schedule your archive tasks to run after full backups. Because archive tasks source data from backup images, by scheduling archive tasks to run after full backups they run faster since they process the latest full backup rather than a chain of incremental backups going back to the latest full.
Schedule your archive tasks so that they run outside the backup window. Because archive tasks source data from backup images, archive tasks impact the backup server and not production systems. Scheduling archive tasks to run outside the backup window allow them to make full use of backup server processing cycles and prevent scheduling conflicts between backup tasks and archive tasks.
General Best Practices
Emails Must Be Backed Up Before They Can Be Archived
Due to the unique implementation of archiving capabilities within Backup Exec 2012 SP2, only data that is being protected by Backup Exec 2012 SP2 through backup jobs can be archived. If no backup job exists to protect the Exchange server in question, the email data associated with that Exchange server cannot be archived.
In Backup Exec 2012 SP2, archiving tasks are implemented as an additional stage to a backup job. Archiving tasks will only employ archiving rules against source data from the backup job of which they are a part. When adding an archive stage to a backup job, it is advisable to configure the backup job to be the most compatible with archiving, such as storing backups to disk rather than directly to tape.
The Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option does not support archiving data from backup sets stored only to tape.
The Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option does not currently support clustering. It will install to a Backup Exec 2012 SP2 server that is a cluster node, but it will not be allowed to join the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 cluster.
For the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Exchange Mailbox Archiving Option, the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 server must be in a domain. For configurations involving multiple domains, the domain of the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 services account must be trusted by the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 server domain as well as the domain of the Exchange servers targeted for archiving.
In addition, the BE services account must be granted permissions on each Exchange server targeted for archiving tasks. The Administrator’s Guide lists additional details in regards to the permissions that need to be provided to the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Service Account on Exchanges mailboxes in order to enable archiving. Please refer to the Administrator’s Guide for additional details.
- Unite Virtual and Physical: Powered by Symantec V-Ray technology, Backup Exec 2012 enables visibility across both virtual and physical environments for fast and efficient backup and recovery while eliminating the need for specialised point products.
- Eliminate Backup Complexity with a New Administration Console: A newly redesigned administration console will provide users with fast, concise management and monitoring capabilities.
- Integrated Disaster Recovery: With bare-metal disaster recovery and Backup Exec’s “no hardware DR” built in, organizations will be able to easily recover a failed system to a physical server, or to a Hyper-V or VMware guest.
- Capacity Licensing: New capacity licensing model for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), mid-sized and lower enterprise organizations will provide easier purchasing and maintenance by capacity as an alternative to existing a la carte pricing.
- Small Business Edition: In less than 10 minutes and with just three simple steps, Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition will install and configure backups so small businesses with limited IT experience can protect their data with ease. The new Backup Exec Small Business Edition will bundle Symantec’s data and system recovery technology into one affordable solution with a single license that’s designed specifically for a growing business.