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.
Uniquely Named Mailbox
To enable key features related to the protection and recovery of Exchange servers, such as granular recovery of Exchange objects, Backup Exec must have access to a uniquely named mailbox within the Exchange infrastructure. Access to this mailbox enables Backup Exec to interact with Exchange and important components within the Exchange Information Store. In order to enable granular recovery of Exchange objects, you must use the appropriate Exchange Server management utility to assign the user account to the Exchange Organization Administrators role (Exchange 2007) or the Exchange Organization Management role (Exchange 2010/2013).
The uniquely named mailbox cannot be hidden in the Exchange Global Address List.
For more information about this mailbox and associated requirements, refer to the Backup Exec Administrator’s Guide or the following technote:
- Ensuring Exchange mailbox name is unique http://www.symantec.com/docs/TECH24691.
Exchange Management Tools
You must install the Exchange Management Tools on the Backup Exec server. The management tools on the Backup Exec server must be the same version or later as the management tools that are on the Exchange Server. For more information about installing the Exchange Management Tools, refer to your Microsoft Exchange documentation.
Protection of Virtualized Exchange Servers
For virtualized Exchange servers, Backup Exec interacts with the Exchange server through the virtual host, either through software APIs provided by the virtual infrastructure (VMware), or through the Agent for Windows installed to the virtual host (Hyper-V). For virtualized Exchange servers, Backup Exec fully supports what is generally known as “agentless” backup, both for VMware as well as Hyper-V environments.
Backup of Virtualized Exchange Servers
For additional information on requirements for protecting Exchange environments using Backup Exec, refer to the Backup Exec Administrator’s Guide and the following technotes:
- General Exchange protection requirements: http://www.symantec.com/business/support/index?page=content&id=HOWTO24128
- Exchange granular recovery requirements: http://www.symantec.com/docs/TECH51740
Note: “Licensing Backup Exec in Exchange Environments” provides more information about the Agent for Applications and Databases licensing.
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 Server-side Deduplication
Do you have VMware ESX or vSphere servers with high average processor utilization? If so, the Backup Exec server-side deduplication method can be a useful and effective deduplication solution for these environments. This method of deduplication is performed entirely on the Backup Exec server and does not impact source systems any more than a typical backup would.
The Backup Exec server-side deduplication method performs the deduplication processes against data when it arrives at the Backup Exec server – that is, just before the data is laid down on disk. Data is transmitted in its whole, un-deduplicated form, and then decomposed into deduplication blocks in-line by the Backup Exec server. Only the unique data blocks (that is, the data that the deduplication disk storage device doesn’t yet contain) are stored.
Figure 4: Backup Exec Server-side Deduplication
The Backup Exec server-side deduplication method is optimal for situations where:
• High Processor Utilization on Remote Servers
If the remote system has no processor cycles to spare for deduplication calculations, Backup Exec server deduplication can take the load and still perform deduplication.
• VMware Environments
When using the Agent for VMware and Hyper-V to capture image-level backups of VMware virtual machines, Backup Exec server-side deduplication must be used.
Backup Exec server-side deduplication is not recommended for the following environments:
• Remote Office Protection Over a WAN
With Backup Exec server-side deduplication, the Backup Exec server receives the entire data set before deduplication takes place. This is not a WAN-friendly method of deduplication. Generally, remote office protection without local storage should use client-side deduplication.
Any Backup Exec server that has the Deduplication Option licensed can utilize the Backup Exec server-side deduplication method. Most agents and backup types supported by Backup Exec can take advantage of the space savings inherent with Backup Exec server-side deduplication.
Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Agent Backup Exec Server-side Deduplication Support
Agent for Windows Yes
Agent for Linux Yes
Agent for Mac Yes
Agent for Applications and Databases Yes
Agent for VMware and Hyper-V (VMware) Yes
Agent for VMware and Hyper-V (Hyper-V) Yes
Some Backup Exec customer environments have an existing investment in deduplication-enabled appliances for onsite backup, offsite storage (disaster recovery), and remote office protection. The appliance deduplication method is an excellent fit for these environments.
The appliance deduplication method uses Symantec’s OpenStorage (OST) technology in conjunction with both a 3rd-party deduplication appliance and a manufacturer-developed OST plug-in. Together, these components enable the following:
• Intelligent Replication Tracking
Many 3rd party deduplication appliances include a replication feature enabling data to be efficiently copied from one device to another downstream device. When backup data is transferred by a Backup Exec server to a deduplication appliance through the OST plug-in, the Backup Exec server is able to track when data is replicated to additional appliances. This allows the Backup Exec server to be able to restore data from both the original deduplication appliance or from any of the additional appliance replication destinations.
Appliance deduplication requires that the Backup Exec server be paired with one or more supported OST-based deduplication appliances. Symantec Backup Exec is committed to expanding the breadth and depth of OST partners certified to work with Backup Exec, so additional OST devices are being certified and supported as they complete Backup Exec’s internal qualification processes.
For more information on supported 3rd-party appliances compatible with the OST-based appliance deduplication technology within Backup Exec 2012 SP2, please refer to the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) available online.
Most important in today’s economic climate is IT’s struggle to manage, control, streamline and provide services to the business. With increasing pressure to do more with less (don’t you love that phrase!), IT needs to reduce risk exposure by improving productivity, driving savings and consolidating suppliers through a standard set of management tools that helps exploit IT assets.
Inevitably over the coming months we will see some massive changes in our working environment. Organisations that are forced to reduce overheads or make massive structural changes are at risk of stretching resources just a little too thin. Conversely, organisational consolidations may suffer from exponential growth of email systems, increased numbers of servers or storage hardware to manage, with minimal resources to do so.
Consequentially organisations need to maintain the status quo by rapidly securing their new technology landscape. But whichever it is, the pressure to do more with less will only increase. So, in today’s uncertain climate, how can IT address the key business risks and opportunities, discover cost savings that are achievable by addressing spiralling utility costs, the data centre power shortage, and the evermore heat-generating equipment.
Organisations are faced with making sense of IT that has, for several years, grown out of control with increased resources that are inefficient and underutilised as well as dispersed and constrained by increased workloads and new deliverables or simply lacking in the skills required to maintain business objectives. Organisation therefore need to plan to address possible risks in the future.
IT’s role needs to be reassessed and be more, centralised strategic, innovative, at a lower cost; as well as being less distributed. How? With Backup Exec and Backup Exec System Recovery providing tools such as centralised granular management – saving in time, cost and resources.
Why buy/upgrade now?
· Optimising data protection for physical and virtual servers (VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V) through new Backup Exec Virtual Agents.
· Take advantage of improved server utilisation through streamlined backup of physical and virtual servers from one single backup application
· Reduce complexity heterogeneous of data recovery
· Meet strict recovery point objectives and service level agreements
· Recovery of critical data in seconds with patent‐pending Granular Recovery Technology (GRT)
· Continuous data protection for Exchange, SQL, file servers and desktops and laptops ensures backup jobs are continuously protected allowing businesses to restore data back to virtually any point in time.
· Infrastructure management – single, central console to run inventory, deploy Backup Exec version upgrades and patches
· Microsoft 2008 – Support for the Complete Windows Server 2008 Portfolio. Backup Exec can be managed from within single EBS Admin Console. Enhanced SharePoint Recovery
· Get the benefit of cost containment, enhanced recovery and execution across physical and virtual environments in the growing Windows and Unix/Linux server arena.