Protecting the VMware environment has its own unique set of data protection challenges. There are basically three ways to protect VMware: the guest OS method, the console backup method and the VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) method. The guest OS method treats each virtual machine as a standalone server and backups take place as usual as if the virtual is physical server. The second practice is the console backup practice, in which virtualisation administrators back up the VMware ESX Server with no regard of the underlying virtual machines in the ESX environment. (There is a “free” product, ESXi, but it has no console, and requires add-ons to manage.)
VCB Backup requires VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3) and initially SAN attached disk (iSCSI or Fibre Chanel) but now supports VMFS with local, JBOD, iSCSI and Fibre-Channel-attached disk, network file system (NFS) and virtual compatibility mode raw device mapping (RDM). The only mode not currently supported is physical compatibility mode RDM, together with a dedicated Windows Server 2003 acts as the backup proxy. You then install the VCB software on the Windows Server and provide access to the same SAN Logical Unit Number (LUN) used for the VMware Virtual Disk Files.
The Symantec Backup Exec 12.5 Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI) is specifically related to the VMware Consolidated Backup framework and is designed and built to communicate directly with VMware ESX and VirtualCenter.VCB was originally introduced in 2006 as nothing more than a collection of interfaces and utilities that backup vendors could exploit. Since then VCB itself and backup vendor support has expanded considerably. The many different code levels for both VCB and backup applications have caused considerable confusion around what environments are supported and what VCB is today.
It is best to think of VCB as a backup framework with a collection of VMware utilities that facilitates backups. Today VCB utilises standard backup products together with snapshot capabilities. It uses command line interface (CLI) capabilities in VMware to take a VM snapshot of Windows-based VMs to offload a copy of the data for the backup product which Backup Exec then mounts and backs up.
Effectively, VCB provides a centralised backup facility that enables you to use Backup Exec to protect system, application, and user data in your virtual machines while reducing the load on virtualised servers. This allows you to backup your virtual machines without disrupting users and applications. So, VCB provides a way to do server-free and LAN-free backup and VM snapshots can be NFS mounted for quicker recovery and GRT as well as centrally manage backups to simplify management of IT resources.
Cool so far?
If you are not using VCB you do not need the BE 12.5 AVVI. Most organisations not using VCB are likely to be using ESXi. Although ESXi is free, there is no service console anymore. So you can’t use local agents on your ESXi host. Everything needs to be able to communicate with the VI API or any other remote connect method to gather information – not so cool.
So, the bottom line is AVVI is only needed when there is a VCB framework around the Virtual infrastructure.
VMware’s Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3) family includes: VMware ESX, VirtualCenter, VCB, VMware Converter & VMotion. Backup Exec 12.5′s Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI) can leverage all of these components of VMware VI3 to automatically discover, protect, and recover virtual machines and their data. All Guest virtual machines (VM’s) hosted by V3I, including Windows and Linux virtual machines, can be protected using Backup Exec’s AVVI integrated support of VCB.
I saw an analyst report the other day that predicts that in spite of the economic downturn companies, large and small will be spending the same, or even increased, amounts on backup and recovery in fiscal year 2010.
To make matters more “huh-like”, this study found that the adoption of disk based technologies is accelerating. Actually, when you think about it this makes sense – disk based backup improves recovery capabilities, backs up virtual environments more effectively and eliminates or reduces the physical requirement (and security hazard) for tape transport.
Actually, it’s making more sense the more you think about it. Older backup solutions or older hardware is less effective, more administratively heavy, time consuming, costing money and effort; new hardware technology on the other hand is more efficient and with new software there is more opportunity to automate more. The automation of IT processes can improve overall IT performance as well as specifically storage, server, and application performance. It also gives IT a fighting chance of managing this unruly thing we call IT saving time, effort and money by better staff productivity, better utilisation rates of servers and storage, better efficiency and understanding of all the assets in the IT environment.
So, we all need to be focused on solving the fundamental challenges of backup: improving recovery objectives, improving success rates, and backing up virtual servers (by the way, if you’ve not sussed this out yet server virtualisation will have a significant impact on backup and data protection strategies in the next year). Backup Exec provides automated backup and recovery that easily integrates into your existing environment. BE’s Agents and Options enhance and extend platform and feature support for BE Environments.
The BE 12.5 Media Server and Agent of Windows Systems licenses include Advanced Open File Option (AOFO) and Intelligent Disaster Recovery Option (IDRO). Advanced Open File Option (AOFO) and Intelligent Disaster Recovery Option (IDRO) are included with each core Backup Exec 12.5 license and with each Agent for Windows Systems providing complete out-of-the-box data protection. Comprehensive Data Protection for VMware Infrastructures and Microsoft Hyper-V Servers provide fast, efficient data protection from a single console. One agent efficiently backs up unlimited virtual guest machines to disk or tape and Backup administrators can easily restore an individual file or folder saving management time and resources.
BE’s agent and options can help provide efficient, flexible database and granular data recovery down to an individual emails or documents with Granular Recovery Technology (GRT) for Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directive and virtual servers. BE provides CDP for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, file servers, and desktops/laptops almost eliminating any backup windows-without disrupting user productivity or application usage.
Where the core product is pretty powerful – why not take a look at how you can enhance your backup strategy with the agents and options you can add to your backup strategy to give you more backup for your bucks.
Today organisations of all sizes are faced with managing their disk backup storage growth and improving the speed and ease of recovery of application data, all of which has led to increased complexity for IT administrators. Unfortunately, data protection solutions of old are failing to keep pace with this overwhelming data growth and complexity whereas new data protection solutions are trying to centralise on a single code base and common platform to deliver next generation data protection. The fact is: it just doesn’t work like that.
Next generation data protection solutions need to be complete, powered by disk, and centred on recovery – regardless of size. All organisations are required to protect data in the most efficient way to maximise time and resources – irrespective of size or location. But not only this, they are required to ensure service level requirements are consistently met and at the same time squeezed to improve backup windows and recovery time – all while data growth skyrockets.
In order to manage the way that data protection solutions have altered, technology has had to shift with it. Backups powered by disk make the backup and recovery process faster, more reliable, and automated. It also eliminates the outmoded hassle of trucking backup tapes to a DR facility. In the past, data protection solutions focused on backup, but the focus for businesses large and small is shifting to recovery. That includes system recovery (physical and virtual machines, as well as individual files, documents, users, etc.), disaster recovery, and mission-critical application recovery. Organisations that redesign around disk-based data protection are discovering that they can recover their data quickly and automatically because, in many cases, it is still local and easily accessible.
Because human error is the biggest problem hindering successful recoveries, organisations should look to automation to speed recovery and reduce errors and reliance on personnel. Backup Exec System Recovery is a data protection solution that is optimised for the unique requirements of disaster recovery – because “One Data Protection Solution” does not fit all. It offers:
- Fast, flexible recovery-complete server, desktop, or laptop system recovery in minutes, even to dissimilar hardware or virtual servers
- Granular recovery-individual file, folder, Exchange email and SharePoint document recovery from a one-pass backup, using a single interface
- Cold image recovery-after-the-fact recovery, even of systems that won’t boot
- Central management-single-console management of system backup and recovery environments, including remote systems
- Off-site protection-system protection using remote FTP locations or secondary disk drives for advanced business continuity
I rest my case – thank you!
Nowadays, probably not so much. There was a time where a day or two of outage didn’t make a huge difference to businesses – unfortunately that was over 20 years ago. We now live in a “NOW” world where every second counts. Somehow, no matter what your size, you have to consider how to ensure that business-critical data is always protected and always available. How do you improve your Recovery Point Objective? Enter stage left: Symantec Backup Exec Continuous Protection Server.
Continuous Protection Server (CPS) combines Backup Exec data protection with replication technology and disk-based data protection to provide continuous fast and reliable data backup and retrieval. It does what is says on the tin: offering continuous data protection; giving you the ability to restore data at a granular level from points in time throughout the day. At the same time you can perform simultaneous backups of multiple servers; fully integrated with Symantec Backup Exec for Windows Servers for conventional tape-based data protection.CPS lets users restore their own data without IT assistance through a Web-based data-retrieval tool, i.e. no agent or software needed … or updated or maintained.
How does it work?
- Users save files and folders to local file servers (Business Servers) as part of their normal daily work. Business Servers are interconnected and together form a common Backup Group.
- The CPS Backup Destination Wizard designates a specific directory on a specific Protection Server where the data is backed up. The backup-destination definition includes the schedule for the data snapshots and the policies for snapshot retention. Different servers can be designated as backup destinations based on your needs.
- You can create CPS backup jobs to back up data from one or more Business Servers to a Protection Server and schedule CPS backup jobs to run periodically, continuously or on demand.
- As soon as the data is backed up to the Protection Server, scheduled snapshots of the data are made. The data is then indexed and made available to the Web Restore Server.
- Users retrieve specific versions of files and folders from the Web Restore Server using Backup Exec Retrieve and their Internet browsers.
- If a system fails on one or more Business Servers, the backed up data can be restored from the Protection Server back to the Business Server. If a failure occurs at a Protection Server, Backup Exec can restore the data back to the Protection Server or back to a Business Server.
- After the data is backed up to the Protection Server, you can back up the data to Backup Exec to archive the data to tape or disk for long-term storage.
- Backup Exec SmartLink technology provides integrated management of the CPS allowing you to view the status of Continuous Protection Server backup jobs in the Backup Exec Job Logs and Alerts. This option lets administrators determine the quality and completion of the CPS jobs before or during the Backup Exec backup job.
Continuous data protection is different from traditional backup in that you don’t have to necessarily specify the point in time to which you would like to recover until you are ready to perform a restore. Traditional backups can only restore data to the point at which the backup was taken. With Backup Exec CPS there are only continuous or near continuous backup schedules. This effectively reduces your Recovery Point Objective to short time periodical CPS backups – worse case.
“Makes you think!”
I’ve heard some pretty horrendous numbers relating to data growth including: data is growing at upwards of 100% year on year – at the current rate we will create upwards of 600 Exabytes this year. That equates to a pile of books from outside your window to the sun and back -6 times. Alternatively, if that blows your mind, if a byte is a grain of sand the number of bytes we will create, re-create, mirror, copy, replicate or duplicate in some form this year will exceed the number of grains of sand on all the beaches in the world.
“Makes you think Part II – The Wrath of Data”
Even more worrying most of us are unaware where all this stuff is. Unstructured and semi-structured data is all over the place: on iPods, external hard drives, laptops, USB keys – you name it, we store it! Let’s call structured data anything that sits within an application or database and anything unstructured anything else – Semi-Structured data tends to be file shares, web pages (potentially), so, SharePoint, Exchange, etc. However, it is the difference in size between structured and unstructured data is so startling. You can get 25 million structured records on two CDs but just 25 (unstructured) songs (or 2.5 Prog Rock songs)! This means that about 80% of all data created is either semi-structured or unstructured.
“Makes you think Part III - The Search for An Answer”
So, how do we protect this data that is being stored on our company laptops and desktops? Generally we don’t! This is where Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) comes in. Not only does BESR enable us to recover from system loss or disasters to dissimilar hardware but it can restore the data as well. BESR provides rapid, easy-to-use system restoration or full bare-metal recovery for servers, desktops or laptops. In addition, BESR 8.5 Desktop Edition can use its snapshot capabilities to automate the process of saving laptop or external storage data to a central or remote location.
“Makes you think Part IV - The Journey to DR”
If it’s Disaster Recovery capabilities you’re after then BESR includes flexible off site protection to an FTP location or secondary disk and enhanced recoverability with new cold imaging technology. The Granular Restore Option allows you to recover individual Exchange messages, SharePoint documents or files and folders from a single interface. The management can be centralised so you can centrally deploy, modify and maintain backup policies for local and remote systems, monitor real-time status with an at-a-glance view of system recovery jobs and sort out any problems.
BESR captures a recovery point of the entire Windows system without impacting user productivity. This recovery point can be conveniently saved to various disk storage devices including SAN, NAS, Direct Attached Storage, RAID, CD/DVD, etc. When systems fail, Backup Exec System Recovery enables a quick restore of system and/or data without the need for manual, lengthy and error prone processes also enabling you to recover systems in remote, unattended locations.
Handy – huh?