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Rmiranda
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Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Rmiranda » Jul 29, 2013 11:57 pm

So I tried the Veeam trial and throughout the trial all my MS Exchange backups showed up as being successful in Veeam.
My Backup Exec backups on the other hand gave me consistency errors.
I verified the validity of this error by running Eseutil against my mail database and it was really corrupt. MS Backup gave me the same error.
Once I repaired the mail database the backups were error free.
I like Veeam but it has no agents so how can I be sure my databases are intact without constantly checking them myself?

veremin
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by veremin » Jul 30, 2013 7:25 am

Hi, Ruben.

What particular consistency error are you seeing?

I’m also wondering whether you’re using Application Aware Image Processing, as well as, log truncation.

Generally speaking, with such an option VB&R instructs Microsoft VSS to create a consistent and reliable view of application before VM snapshot is taken. Windows VSS, in its turn, communicates with VSS-aware applications and Windows OS in order to freeze all I/O at a given point of time. This way, it ensures that there are no unfinished database transactions or incomplete application files during data copying operations.

So, having this option enabled should guarantee required backup consistency of VMs running VSS-aware applications (such as Active Directory, Microsoft SQL, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint).

Additionally, you can always check up backup data with Sure Backup that will perform automatic verification for you.

Thanks.

Gostev
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Gostev » Jul 30, 2013 9:03 am

Rmiranda wrote:I like Veeam but it has no agents
We don't have persistent agents yes, but we do have runtime coordination process that interacts with Microsoft VSS during backup to ensure application-consistent backups, and performs additional application-specific backup and restore steps as required by Microsoft. Make sure you have application-aware processing enabled.

Rmiranda
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Rmiranda » Jul 30, 2013 9:33 am

Thanks for responding. The consistency error stated the database was corrupt.
Although my trial already ended I was able to view settings and verify that AAIP had been enabled for all backups but I do not believe that would have made a difference. From my limited understanding, Quiescing an application such as Exchange and performing a consistency check on the mail database are separate things. The backup of the mail database was consistent but it was also corrupt but Veeam could not know this because it did not perform any consistency checks. I pasted some info below on an API which can be called in addition to a VSS snapshot. There needs to be some way for Veeam to call this API or to perform a consistency check on its own in addition to the snapshot or it will not be able to verify the integrity of the database. So yes, I would have a so to speak consistent backup in that the application was quiesced and the veeam logs would be clean, but the day I go to restore that backup I'd be in for an unpleasant surprise.

CHKSGFILES API
The CHKSGFILES Library enables backup and restore applications to programmatically verify the integrity of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Exchange Server 2007, and Exchange Server 2010 transaction log files and databases. This API can verify individual databases when run against databases obtained from Exchange 2003, Exchange 2007, and Exchange 2010. This API can also verify individual databases and storage groups when run against databases and storage groups obtained from Exchange 2003 and Exchange 2007. Storage groups are not part of Exchange 2010. This API is designed to be used as part of backup and restore applications that use the Volume Shadow Copy Service.

Gostev
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Gostev » Jul 31, 2013 5:49 pm

Rmiranda wrote:So yes, I would have a so to speak consistent backup in that the application was quiesced and the veeam logs would be clean, but the day I go to restore that backup I'd be in for an unpleasant surprise.
And this is exactly one of the reasons why we provide SureBackup functionality as a part of our product.

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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by jrfolkman » Jul 31, 2013 9:08 pm

So for Veeam Hyper-V users we don't have Sure Backup correct? I was looking at V7 and it does include the Virtual Lab so will we then have Sure Backup capability?

Thanks,

Jason

Sorry just re-read the V7 enhancements and it does say Sure Backup will be on Hyper-V - Wonderful!!!!!!

Rmiranda
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Rmiranda » Aug 01, 2013 12:18 am

Okay, I read up on surebackup and from what I understand it will boot a vm and perform tests.
Just not sure if it could run something like eseutil for exchange or call the CHKSGFILES API to test the mail database.
The reason I ask is because the mail server can boot just fine even with a corrupt mail database so surebackup would not be aware of the corruption unless it could run eseutil or some other check.

thanks!

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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by tsightler » Aug 01, 2013 12:59 am

Surebackup allows you to execute custom commands/scripts that can check pretty much whatever you want if you are able to write a script or executable to check it.

Rmiranda
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Rmiranda » Aug 01, 2013 1:49 am

Understood, but is this all automated and translatable into an email alert indicating a backup failure?
My current backup software runs a check of the exchange mail database before it starts the backup and sends me an email alert if there is a problem.
Now, if I were running Veeam, would this check of the mail database be automated? and would it be able to generate an email alert?
Thanks

tsightler
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by tsightler » Aug 01, 2013 3:27 am

Yes, Surebackup can be automated and can send email alerts, but it would have to be a custom script to do this. I agree it would be nice if the Veeam VSS process was enhanced to offer integrity checks using the CHKSGFILES API, however, it's important to not that this check is not foolproof. Surebackup actually boots the Exchange environment in an isolated lab, so thus verifies not just that the Exchange environment can start up, but that the VM can start with no issues.

Gostev
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Gostev » Aug 01, 2013 8:24 am

How long does the integrity check run? Is it even feasible to do within the backup window? We can consider if it takes just a few seconds.

Rmiranda
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Rmiranda » Aug 01, 2013 3:52 pm

For me, on a 100Gb mail database it took a few minutes. I have 15k RPM drives on a fast server, this will depend on each environment but I still think it should be an option that the customer selects based on their own backup window and priorities. This check is optional on my current software and I also have the option to continue the backup or cancel it depending on the outcome of the check. MS DPM has this option and so does the built-in free backup included with Windows. Just not sure how any Exchange admin can sleep at night without a database integrity check as part of their daily backup routine. I think this would also be a great option for surebackup because it would not impact the backup window..

Thanks

Gostev
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by Gostev » Aug 01, 2013 4:22 pm

So, considering more realistic mailbox databases sizes (I think our own Exchange at Veeam is over 1 TB, and we are not that big anyway), it does not look like this is something we want to do within the actual backup process. SureBackup scripted check is that way to go, plus only that gives you the real confidence (successful integrity check does not guarantee your Exchange will boot and work when restored, but SureBackup does).

tsightler
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Re: Veeam and MS Exchange

Post by tsightler » Aug 01, 2013 4:41 pm

I've seen some post from users of other backup platforms saying that disabling this integrity check reduces backup time by 8x so I have to assume it's more than a few seconds. Microsoft actually downplays the requirement to use it in some of their recent documents on VSS backups, at least in scenarios that are using other high availability opitions such as DAG. But I can certainly see the value in verifying database integrity on a scheduled basis.

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