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
Data Deduplication and Virtual Machine Backups
The Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Agent for VMware and Hyper-V enables optimised, image-level backups of both VMware and Hyper-V virtual machines. This is accomplished by capturing backups through communication with the VMware or Hyper-V virtual host. However, deduplication recommendations differ between VMware and Hyper-V environments being protected by Backup Exec 2012 SP2.
Deduplication of Image-level VMware Backups
While it is possible to utilise client-side deduplication when protecting VMware virtual machines, this configuration requires that backups be processed by locally installed agents within the virtual machines themselves (either the Agent for Windows or the Agent for Linux). This configuration bypasses the optimised, image-level backup capabilities of the Agent for VMware and Hyper-V in VMware environments that take advantage of Backup Exec’s advanced integration with the VMware vStorage API. For this reason, using client-side deduplication in VMware environments is generally not recommended. Backup Exec server-side deduplication is optimal.
Backup Exec Server-side Deduplication of VMware Image-level Backups
Deduplication of Image-level Hyper-V Backups
Client-side deduplication can be used when capturing image-level backups of Hyper-V virtual machines using the Agent for VMware and the Agent for Microsoft Hyper-V. In this configuration, optimised, image-level backups of virtual machines are captured and deduplicated through the Backup Exec Agent for Windows installed locally to the Hyper-V host. It is not necessary to install an individual agent into each Hyper-V virtual machine in order to realise client-side deduplication in Hyper-V environments.
Client-side Deduplication of Hyper-V Image-level Backups
VMDK and VHD Stream Handlers
Backup Exec 2012 SP2 includes stream handler technology designed specifically for image-level backups of VMware and Hyper-V virtual machines captured through the Agent for VMware and Agent for Microsoft Hyper-V. The stream handler technology within Backup Exec operates invisibly, meaning no additional management or configuration adjustments are required on the part of the administrator.
The stream handler technology within Backup Exec applies to both client-side and Backup Exec server-side deduplication. The stream handlers enable variable-length segmenting of VMware (VMDK) and Hyper-V (VHD) disk files during deduplication calculations. This aligns deduplication blocks to file extent boundaries within the virtual disk, and data changes over time within virtual disk files result in fewer unique blocks. This translates into better storage savings across both VMware and Hyper-V backups when using the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Agent for VMware and Agent for Microsoft Hyper-V in conjunction with the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Deduplication Option.
Combining the Agent for VMware and the Agent for Microsoft Hyper-V with the Deduplication Option can offer significant storage savings for Backup Exec administrators, allowing them to reduce storage costs by getting the most out of the backup storage resources at their disposal.
Additional information on the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Agent for VMware and the Agent for Microsoft Hyper-V can be found in the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Agent for VMware and Hyper-V Technical Feature Brief, and in the Backup Exec 2012 Administrator’s Guide and the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 Administrator’s Guide Addendum.
Data Deduplication and Storing Backups to Tape
An environment with a disk-to-disk-to-tape architecture is fairly common among customers who are interested in deduplication. It’s important to note that all of the Backup Exec 2012 SP2 methods of deduplication mentioned here are disk-based; deduplicated data is never stored directly to tape in its deduplicated form. However, the process of migrating deduplicated data to tape is very simple. Customers simply add an additional stage to their backup workflow that sends the data to tape storage.
Data Deduplication and Storing Backups to Tape
For data that was backed up using client-side or Backup Exec server-side deduplication, the Backup Exec server is responsible for “rehydrating” the deduplicated data – meaning the process of recreating whole files from deduplicated blocks – before transferring the data to tape. There will be some impact to processor and memory usage during the tape stage of the backup workflow due to the rehydration process. While resource consumption varies based on data set, at most the tape stage of the backup workflow will use 100% of one processor core while rehydrating deduplicated data and copying it to tape.
For data that was backed up to a deduplication appliance, the deduplication appliance itself is responsible for “rehydrating” the deduplicated data prior to it being sent to tape.
Extended to October 2nd, 2009 Upgrade to Backup Exec 12.5 or switch from a competitor’s solution and save up to 35% of MSRP on Backup Exec 12.5 virtual agents for VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V.
Comprehensive Data Protection for VMware Infrastructures and Microsoft Virtual Servers
How are you backing up your virtual environment today? Are you applying an antiquated and time consuming backup approach to your new virtual server environment? Having to juggle multiple agents to protect your virtual machines while also managing different backup products for both your physical and virtual environments can be painful.
Expanded virtual server data protection with two new virtual Agents! Backup Exec Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructures and Backup Exec Agent for Microsoft Virtual Servers (including Hyper-V)
- Quickly restore virtual server files and folders from a single pass backup – save time and storage costs by eliminating a redundant file level backup
- Easily backup an unlimited number of virtual guest machines to disk or tape for added flexibility and savings
- Fast, efficient data protection for physical and virtual server environments from a single console
The BE 12.5 Agent for Microsoft Virtual Servers (AVVI) provides a single agent to support an unlimited number of virtual guests running on a Windows Server 2008 machines while protecting existing physical server files and Windows applications. Backup Exec 12.5 can quickly restore individual virtual files and folders from a single image-level backup – eliminating the time and storage requirements of a second file level backup
- Complete Windows data protection for new Windows Server 2008 Hyper-V systems and virtual systems running Windows Server 2000 and 2003 environments
- One agent delivering affordable data protection to an unlimited number of Microsoft virtual systems
- Comprehensive backup application for virtual systems and physical systems supporting disk and tape storage environments
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.