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rfn
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Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

We're currently running two hosts with the free ESXi 4.0 which has 5-6 VM's on them. We only do backup inside the guests just like they were traditional machines. We run all our VM's on local storage on the hosts.

We wish to create backups of the VM's as well for disaster recovery. We have two locations with their own room for servers and we wish to have all our VM's backup'ed up every night to our secondary server room. The two locations are connected with fiber so there's plenty of bandwidth. 2 Gb/s at the moment.

We have plenty of storage available as NFS shares in both server rooms, so the idea was to license three hosts (we're virtualizing another server soon) with the VMware Essentials Bundle and use Veeam Backup to backup the hosts to the NFS share located in the other server room. In that room we will have a server with the free ESXi that we will not be using for production. That will be connected to the NFS share that we're backing up to and in case of a disaster it would be easy to connect the backups to that ESXi server and start them up.

Is this a viable solution? As far as I understand then Veeam Backup can't replicate to a free ESXi host so that's why I don't suggest to backup/replicate to a live hosts, but simply a NFS share that the host has access to.

Gostev
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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

Hello René, yes - this will work fine. Very creative solution indeed :)

However, you will probably want to use "VM Copy" functionality to copy VMs without additional processing. Backup jobs produce highly compressed/deduped files as an output (*.VBK) - this is not something your DR host will be able to power on ;)

rfn
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Re: Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

That's a good point :). I have read a little about Veeam Backup and in order to create the backups quickly and effeciently it would be nice to use the feature that only copies changed blocks for incremental backups.

In case of a disaster couldn't I just install the VMware license on the remaining DR host and restore the backups using the Veeam Backup software?

In our situation with three hosts running on local storage how should we implement Veeam Backup? It seems that it can be installed on a standalone backupserver (running on Windows Server native install (not VM)) and also as a VM running on the hosts themselves?

We've been running with the free ESXi for about a year now and it works great, but I'm still quite a novice. I have seen that in the vSphere Essentials Plus bundle that Data Recovery is included. This seems to do pretty much what we want, but of course the price is much higher than the Essentials bundle, but then we would also get High Availability.

The price is actually the same as Essentials+Veeam Essentials, so which is better for what we need? Essentials and Veeam Essentials or Essentials Plus alone?

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

rfn wrote:That's a good point :). I have read a little about Veeam Backup and in order to create the backups quickly and effeciently it would be nice to use the feature that only copies changed blocks for incremental backups.
Good point. Unlike backup jobs, VM Copy jobs do not leverage changed block tracking. They are not really designed for continuos copies, it is more for one-time, adhoc interactive or scheduled copies.
rfn wrote:In case of a disaster couldn't I just install the VMware license on the remaining DR host and restore the backups using the Veeam Backup software?
Absolutely.
rfn wrote:In our situation with three hosts running on local storage how should we implement Veeam Backup? It seems that it can be installed on a standalone backupserver (running on Windows Server native install (not VM)) and also as a VM running on the hosts themselves?
Since you are using ESX 4.0 and local storage, vStorage API "Network" mode is your best choice. Veeam Backup server can be made virtual. Be sure to patch your ESX to get decent backup performance with network mode.
rfn wrote:We've been running with the free ESXi for about a year now and it works great, but I'm still quite a novice. I have seen that in the vSphere Essentials Plus bundle that Data Recovery is included. This seems to do pretty much what we want, but of course the price is much higher than the Essentials bundle, but then we would also get High Availability.

The price is actually the same as Essentials+Veeam Essentials, so which is better for what we need? Essentials and Veeam Essentials or Essentials Plus alone?
Well, the choice is all yours here, consider that you will get a lot more with Veeam Essentials deal - it includes 3 products to cover all your needs: Backup&Replication, Monitor and Reporter. With VMware Essentials Plus, you will get High Availability (which you cannot really use, because it requires shared storage and you have local), and verstion 1.0 backup tool which is not quite ready for prime time (you can read feedback from its users on VMware forums, there are tons of upset users, see this big thread for instance), and just plain lacks features, as any 1.0 release.

I suggest you just test both tools to see which works best for you, as my recommendations are obviously biased ;) but I can tell you is we have many customers who is switching to us from VMware DR because of not being happy with it. No doubt this product will become a great tool in future version as it matures, but you need to do backups and recoveries today, right :wink:

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

Gostev wrote: Good point. Unlike backup jobs, VM Copy jobs do not leverage changed block tracking. They are not really designed for continuos copies, it is more for one-time, adhoc interactive or scheduled copies.
It would probably be possible to copy all the full VM's over night, but as the VM's grow it would be nice to use the backup feature.
Gostev wrote: Absolutely.
Since you are using ESX 4.0 and local storage, vStorage API "Network" mode is your best choice. Veeam Backup server can be made virtual. Be sure to patch your ESX to get decent backup performance with network mode.
We'er using ESXi 4 and not ESX, so that patch is not for us I think. I have already applied the U1 update for ESXi 4. Are there performance issues with ESXi as well? Couldn't we use vStorage API Virtual Appliance Mode? Does that require a Veeam Backup license for each host?
Gostev wrote:Well, the choice is all yours here, consider that you will get a lot more with Veeam Essentials deal - it includes 3 products to cover all your needs: Backup&Replication, Monitor and Reporter. With VMware Essentials Plus, you will get High Availability (which you cannot really use, because it requires shared storage and you have local), and verstion 1.0 backup tool which is not quite ready for prime time (you can read feedback from some other users on VMware forums, there are tons of upset users, see this big thread for instance), and just plain lacks features, as any 1.0 release. I suggest you just test both tools to see which works best for you, as I my recommendations are obviously biased ;) but I can tell you is we have many customers who is switching to us from VMware DR because of not being happy with it. No doubt this product will become a great tool in future version as it matures, but you need to do backups and recoveries today, right :wink:
I checked out your link and it seems like the money is better spent on Veeam Backup :wink: . We're dealing with Dell here in Denmark and they suggested the Veeam Essentials bundle, but is that because the standard Veeam Backup product can't be used with a VMware vSphere Essentials license? I don't even know what the other Veeam product do!

Thank you for your great input!

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

Yes, you can use vStorage API "Virtual Appliance" mode and this will definitely give you much better speed, however because you use local storage, you will need to deploy one Veeam Backup server per source ESXi host, so you will have to manage 2 Veeam Backup instances. This is not too big deal of course, because Veeam Backup Enteprise Manager will allow you to conveniently monitor and manage both backup servers through federation web UI which allows to control jobs, create all sorts of reports (can drill down into any object), search for VM in the backup files, view logs etc.

Yes, you can use the same license file for both Veeam Backup servers - you will not be in violation, as long as both Veeam servers backup VMs from the same ESX hosts "pool".

Standard Veeam Backup can be used with any VMware license. DELL recommends you Veeam Essentials bundle because it will be more expensive to buy Veeam Backup separately. Veeam Essentials is a special deal which is designed specifically for VMware Essentials users (gives very hefty discount, but is limited to 6 sockets and requires proof of VMware Essentials purchase).

As for Monitor and Reporter, I recommend that you checkout some screeshots, videos and info on their respective pages to get an idea what they do.
http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-reporti ... prise.html
http://www.veeam.com/vmware-esx-monitoring.html

rfn
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Re: Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

With only three hosts and our few VM's I don't think it's a problem to have several instances of Veeam Backup running, especially with the Enterprise Manager. I think this is the way that I will do it, if I get the whole thing approved. Does the Virtual Applicance require a Windows Server license or is a self contained (Linux) system?

I can't imagine that we will need more than three hosts and the price for vSphere Essentials and Veeam Essentials combined is not so big that it's a complete disaster if we have to throw it out and start over, but then it becomes very costly! :shock:

Monitor looks like something that could be usefull, but Reporter is not for us I think. We're not that advanced :D

Your input has been great and I'm now much wiser on this subject!

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

Veeam Backup needs to be installed on Windows computer (no matter which mode is used), but you can use some existing server to save on Windows licenses. Backups will be performed during off hours, anyway.

matthadley
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Re: Can we do this?

Post by matthadley »

I believe this is close to the simple model I am after. Here is what I am considering:

Hardware:
Two dual-socket, quad-core host servers, with 32GB RAM, 8 TB of disk space, and 4 GigE ports

Software:
ESX and Veeam Essentials

Layout:
ESX on both hosts. I'll refer to the first as the primary and the second as the secondary.
All Guess will be installed using the internal disks as direct-attached storage.
Two GigE ports direct-connected, between the two, using crossover cables.
A ESX virtual switch for the uplink to the data lan/wan
A separate ESX virtual switch to isolate traffic between the two servers, over the two crossover ports.

Guests on the Primary
1. Windows 2003 server with Sql2000 running a low-demand content management database.
2. Windows 2003 server running as a file and print server.
Additional guests to be determined based upon performance and need.

Guests on the Secondary
1. Windows XP with SQLExpress running Veeam Server Montior. For replication and backup tasks.
2. Replica partner of SQL server running on the Primary (Veeam replication).
3. Replica partner of file and print server running on the Primary (Veeam replication).

We'll use snapshots to mark rolling points-in-time on the file server, e.g. midnight Mon, Tue, ... Sun -- allowing users to recover a previous version of a file up to a week old. We'll also use snapshots to protect the guests before certain patches and upgrades.

Once we have a success high-availability, near-continuous data protection pair in the local environment, we'll look to replication to an off-site ESX server for site-down DR protection.

Thoughts on such a model?

Thanks, Matt

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

I assume under (1) on secondary you meant Veeam Backup server.

I don't think using multiple snapshots is good idea. Snapshots tend to grow very fast. Generally, it is against best practices to run production VMs with open snapshots. Instead, you could simply perform daily backups of source guest with Veeam and use that for file level recoveries?

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by matthadley »

Gostev,

Yes, you are correct - Veeam Backup server.
Thanks for the heads-up on snapshots, too. Backups would suffice.

Is it generally OK to run the backup server, subject to performance testing, on a VM host? I picked the secondary since we only plan to run guests on that in the event the primary server fails.

BTW, if we buy the Veeam Essentials suite, I will be interested in exploring the other products, but the backup and replication process are what I am really after at this time.

We are evaluating this against a model that would use HP/Lefthands virtual SAN appliance to trap and replicate traffic between the VMWare servers. While it may more closely approximate continuous data protection, it is costly and complex.

- Matt

BTW, how long/many posts, before I move up from being a "lurker" in the forums? :)

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

Yes, running backup server in a VM is absolutely fine, just create Veeam Backup VM with 2 vCPUs.

One thing you should pay attention to when looking at alternative solutions, is whether they are able to provide transactionally consistent replicas, which is important for applications such as SQL server. Real CDP tools are unable to deliver this by definition, because it takes some time to properly quiesce the application with Microsoft VSS.

It only takes 3 posts :)

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by matthadley »

Great! Agreed, and this is my third post :) Thanks again for the prompt responses. On to the testing phase ...

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by vbussiro »

An alternative would be to connect your NFS share directly to your three ESXi hosts, as you've got decent bandwith, and use replication.

In case one of your host run down, simply failover to one of remaining two hosts connected to the NFS share, and get "manual" HA.
In case all your esxi hosts run down, connect (add to inventory) replicated VM on NFS share to your free esxi, and let them run on it. It's a blazing fast DR.

I think it's a much better way since you'll do incremental replica, much faster, and so, more often. You'll also be able to roll on previous replica, and to restore guest file or VM files, which you can't do with VM copy I think.

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

vbussiro: Sorry for being away for so long, but I never got a mail about a new post. I'm still looking for the right solution and the choice seems to be either a Veeam Backup solution or two Dell EqualLogics which are replicating each other... The difference in cost is dramatic, so if Veeam can do what we want, then that would be very well received by our CEO :)

Can I with Veeam replicate continously, like once every halv hour without any real performance penalty? That's something that I'm told is possible with EqualLogic, even down to every 5 or 10 minute. Our most important server is a Windows 2003 Server with SQL Server 2005. It's running a business critical application and I would REALLY like to have it continually replicated so that in case of a disaster we would only loose a minimum of data. Today we backup up every night and risk loosing 24 hours of work in the worst case scenario.

On big obstacle is that right now the Windows 2003 Server with SQL Sever 2005 is running on bare metal, it's not virtualized and since it's a SQL Server OEM CPU license then I'm not sure if we're allowed to virtualize it, even though it would still run on the same host. Dell is checking this for us. If we can't then our only solution is the EqualLogics (or some other software solution like BackupExec), but if we can virtualize and Veeam can replicate this continually then it's getting very interesting.

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

rfn wrote:Can I with Veeam replicate continously, like once every halv hour without any real performance penalty? That's something that I'm told is possible with EqualLogic, even down to every 5 or 10 minute. Our most important server is a Windows 2003 Server with SQL Server 2005. It's running a business critical application and I would REALLY like to have it continually replicated so that in case of a disaster we would only loose a minimum of data. Today we backup up every night and risk loosing 24 hours of work in the worst case scenario.
Every 5 mins is easily doable with Veeam replication, as long as you are using ESX4 and virtual hardware version 7 VM (which are pre-requisites for chaged block tracking functionality). In fact, for most typical VMs incremental replication cycles will complete in under 1 minute (if you are on near-CDP job schedule).

Just try it. Put us in the lab! :D

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by rfn »

And this is possible without any noticeable performance penalty? We're running on local storage here and would replicate to a NFS share.

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Re: Can we do this?

Post by Gostev »

Yes, it should be fine.

If your SQL server is extremely active, you can consider disabling Veeam VSS and VMware Tools queiscence in the advanced job settings (the latter is very important to do with Veeam VSS disabled). This is because VSS freeze may take a while on very active SQL. The good thing is that such snapshots will be near instant and will not affect performance and SQL response. The drawback is that your replicas will be crash-consistent (similar to pulling plug from your physical SQL, then booting it up). But in case of issues with specific restore point, you can always rollback to previous restore point a few minutes ago, because we provide multiple replica rollback points.

Note that while this may sound scary, not using VSS and queiscence will give you as good snasphost as with SAN replication (your other option). Basically Veeam VSS provides the next level of reliability comparing to SAN snapshots.

Anyhow, based on what you say (that today you are running on regular computer with local storage) your SQL does not look that busy, so VSS should be unnoticeable. Of course VSS is preffered way (in terms of reliability), so if your test show that all is well with VSS enabled, you should be using it.

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