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eweiner
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Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by eweiner »

Hi all-

I am looking to set up a VMware ESXi cluster for the first time. I would appreciate any thoughts that you guys have on the configuration of it. I am trying to get as reliable a system I can for the money, while allowing upgrades in the future for when we have a larger budget. I haven't purchased any of this equipment yet, but am looking to do very soon (next 2 weeks or so), and am very open to other peoples' ideas.

I am looking at:
2 Identical VMware ESXi boxes, running VMware essentials. I am planning on running half of our VMs on each system.
2 SAN boxes running iSCSI (running open-E V6) which are replicated to each other, using active-passive failover. (open-E takes care of this using virtual IPs)
2 switches


so we have

Code: Select all

LAN Backbone....
  ||       ||
ESXi1     ESXi2
  ||   X   ||
switch    switch
  ||   X   ||
SAN1------SAN2
Hopefully that diagram is clear.

I am planning on getting the Veeam essentials package.
My main question for you is how set up Veeam. It isn't clear to me exactly the best way to do this. My plan was to get a Buffalo terastation III as a backup target (or similar). From reading the user guide, it looks like the best way to do this is to have a physical server connected to one of the iSCSI switches (so that it can access the SAN disks directly). This could then send data straight to the terastation, bypassing the ESXi servers/LAN completely. However, there is a huge amount of computing power available in those servers (our server load is relatively light)- what are my options for setting this up as a VM?

Another question I had was for offsite backups. I was originally planning on using Rsync from the local terastation to an identical Terastation offsite over a VPN every night. However, it looks like the backup files are going to be changing pretty significantly each time- My understanding is that rsync is a "file" level rather than a "block" level synching tool, so it would need to push all new files, every night. We currently only have a 3 Mbit connection, so that would limit us to a about 8 GB per 8 hour night (and that is under ideal conditions), and we're going to have something on the order of 2 Terabytes of data (uncompressed/un-deduplicated), so that obviously will not work. Is there a better way to do this using Veeam directly??


Has anyone done something similar to this configuration?

Thanks,
-Eric

bbeavis
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by bbeavis »

We were in a very similar boat. A couple of decisions we came to.

1. We preferred ESX over ESXi. Having Linux experts in house we wanted the control. With what you are purchasing, both are included.

2. I was going to go with Essentials. I could not find a person who would recommend it. We settled with vSphere Standard and vCenter Foundation. Every expert I asked recommended staying away from Essentials. There was an uber VMware developer at a local conference, he could not stress enough to not go with Essentials. It is not a strategic item for VMware.

3. RAM, lots of fast RAM. Buy top notch.

4. Can never have enough NICs.

We have a cheap Dell entry level SAN (actual a NAS, no switch). It has lots of built in redundancy. If you don't plan on anything else using your Storage device, save on switches and direct connect. Our 2 ESX machines each have 2 nics going to our NAS. They are crossed for redundancy.

Our 3 systems each have dual 10Gb nics and direct cables in a triangle design.

For offsite, Veeam runs on our vCenter system. I plug in a 500GB USB portable drive and copy the VM's nightly using Veeam. This USB device goes in our offsite rotation. We have several and I run encryption on them. The file server and email server backup using BE (running on vCenter) and tape drive plugged into vCenter. I replicate between the two ESX systems.

I have a lot of stuff going on on the vCenter system, everything wants to use the same ports so juggling that is fun.

eweiner
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by eweiner »

1) I preferred ESXi as that is what I have used in the past, and it is also smaller/simpler/should (theoretically) require fewer patches.. I also have almost zero linux experience. It also seems like that is the direction that they are pushing people (on their website).

2) That is interesting that you have heard that about essentials. It seem like for two machines, you options are $1000 for essentials or ~$10k for one of the accelleration kits (vsphere advanced). I don't know anyone who has used essentials, (we had been using the free version) but I obviously needed to get a paid version to use Veeam. I just really have trouble spending that much money on software (although we do every year on engineering software). I hadn't really looked into the "standard" version.

3 & 4) Yep, noted, but always good to emphasize.

You say that you "replicate between the two ESX systems"- I'm not sure I understand this. You have all of your data on your SAN/NAS, right? Since both ESX servers hit the same NAS, what is there to replicate?

What kind of compression ratio are you getting on your drive? it sounds like you can fit a weeks worth of data on a 500 GB drive?

Thanks,
-E

Gostev
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by Gostev »

While Essentials might not be "strategic" for VMware, it is such a bargain - so much cheaper. And works just fine (same ESX code). I would definitely go for it in case of small company.

eweiner
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by eweiner »

Anyone have any thoughts on the best way to copy backups from veeam offsite?

Thanks
-Eric

Gostev
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by Gostev »

Eric, go with RSYNC or DFS-R, both are block level and changed blocks only. Search for RSYNC on the forum, there are a few existing discussions already.

As for Veeam Backup server as a VM, I recommend creating 4 vCPU VM (as power is not an issue as you mentioned), and using the vStorage API "Virtual Appliance" processing mode.

Thank you!

eweiner
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by eweiner »

Gostev-
And the vstorage API now supports ESXi, correct? (as of 4.1)?

(I just got a demo key for 4.1, but I don't have hardware yet).

Thanks,
-E

Vitaliy S.
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by Vitaliy S. »

Hello Eric,

Yes, with Veeam Backup and Replication version 4.1 you can use ESXi host as source as well as the target for replication.

Gostev
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Re: Backup and replication configuration recommendation...

Post by Gostev »

Eric - actually, ESXi was supported as source for backup and replication since Veeam Backup 2.0... Veeam Backup 4.1 adds support for ESXi as replication target (previously you could only replicate to "fat" ESX).

Yes, for vStorage API it does not matter if it is ESX or ESXi.

Thank you.

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