Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

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Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby gpomanti » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:37 pm

I was wondering if anyone has any experience with VVOL's and backups. We will be upgrading to vSphere 6.0 soon and will definitely be looking into VVOL's. Has anyone been backing up/replicating VM's with VVOL's? If so what have you seen and how does the backup performance compare? Any other general VVOL information would be greatly appreciated!
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby Vitaliy S. » Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:20 pm

I'm not sure there is much information about vVols yet, but this quick search might give you some hints on the future deployment.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby Gostev » Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:35 am 1 person likes this post

After getting to know VVols better, I personally am not impressed with v1 architecture and functionality limitations, and would not use them myself. This technology needs to mature - A LOT.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby gpomanti » Fri Sep 11, 2015 3:31 pm

Thanks for the replies! Gostev, is there anything in particular that you are not impressed with, or is it just that the overall "version 1" is not quite ready yet?
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby Gostev » Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:39 am 2 people like this post

Sure, I can share a few particular things.

From the architecture perspective, I don't like that VVols are not transportable. Basically, all metadata is stored inside vCenter Server, in the VASA 2.0 provider database. This means that if you lose vCenter, or get some unrecoverable database corruption - you will also lose access to all of your data. Forever! Because you can't just plug your VVols storage into another host to get to your data, such as the case with VMFS. Most people probably don't even realize this limitation, they take it for granted that their storage will be readable by any vSphere host (because this is the case with VMFS, and basically any other file system).

And then, there are some random functionality limitations which will need to be removed to make VVols generally usable. For example, inability to perform direct SAN backup (at all), or hot add backup (for virtual disks over 2TB). So, you are stuck with NBD backup of those huge disks - which is super slow, so good luck with backing up those large VMs with multi-TB disks.

Again, it's a promising technology overall, but v1 is always v1.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby joergr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 7:21 am 1 person likes this post

One thing more to mention - if you lose your VASA provider (some SAN vendors put their VASA providers in virtual appliances), your VM residing on VVOLS do stay on and online and can communicate with their residing VVOLS. However - the moment you shutdown one of these VMs with the VP still absent the VM will go grey and you will not be able to turn it on again till the VP comes back. You too will not be able to do many things with this VM once it´s turned off till the VP comes back. So - if you happen to have your VP VM placed on a VVOL Datastore and at some time this VP VM is down you will have an intersting time i guess. With VVOLs it is extremely crucial to have very regular backups of a) your vcenter server and b) your vp. This has to be taken care of in the future. I see two ideas which will do that: a) VMware integrates very regular auto-backups of all vvol-metadata to every single esxi connected to it or b) the vvol interop design is expanded to the fact that the san vendors will take care of all vvol metadata inside the protected san storage. Ideal would be both.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby dellock6 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 9:53 am

Indeed all the moving parts involved into VVOLs are somewhat scary to think about. I can't imagine all the possible combinations of data loss into the vcenter only, in the VP only, in both, corruptions in data, misalignments between the two, and so on. I hope there's at least a way for the two to re-align informations if there's a restore to be done...

In a way the design with the VP running in a VM (netapp for example) makes backup of their data easy, what about when the VP/PE is the storage processor itself? It's easier to design its availability as the dual controller itself offers this capability, compared to maybe having to leverage multi-processor fault tolerance into vSphere for the virtual appliance running VASA, but on the other end do storage vendors have designed a backup solutionfor the VASA informations?

Also the problem is that few sources are listing all these really needed informations. I hope it's not because VMware doesn't want to let people know too much these limits, as it would be really dangerous to let people use VVOLs at least without being aware of this.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby joergr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:04 am

There is one intersting post by netapp - take a look....

https://library.netapp.com/ecmdocs/ECMP ... 9C322.html

Best,
Joerg
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby dellock6 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:07 am

I've seen that one during my researches :)
In these regards it makes sense indeed to have the VASA provider as a VM, as long as you don't place it inside a VVOL...
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby joergr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:09 am

I will ask a few folks at vmware dev during vmworld europe especially regarding this. There has to be something on the horizon to take care of this metadata to keep it 100% secure and at best on many places at the same time without depending on a vcenter or a vp appliance.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby dellock6 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:15 am

I was going to leverage some contacts I have too, maybe we can meet at VMworld Europe after our searches and share the info we collected. As I like the concept of VVOLs, these "limits" are huge roadblocks to adopt them in a production environment.

Maybe (suggestion for Anton :)) if we understand how to extract and restore these metadata from both location, we can improve Veeam to become a tool to also protect VVOL metadata together with the VM itself. Our support today is based on the VADP libraries but I'm not sure those libraries also allow for extracting those info, to me seems they just allow for the extraction of VM data from the VVOLs.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby joergr » Mon Sep 14, 2015 10:49 am

These are very good ideas from my point of view ;-)

And yeah lets meet in Barca.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby gpomanti » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:12 pm

Thanks for all the information! I was unaware of the issue with data loss if you lose vCenter. That sounds like kind of a big deal to me :) I guess we will hold off on VVOls for now.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby Cormac » Mon Sep 14, 2015 3:43 pm 1 person likes this post

A few people have reached out and asked me to comment on this post.

Its probably worthwhile clarifying a few things first.

In the context of VVols, the VASA provider should ideally be stateless. In other words, if it goes away for some reason, this should have no impact on your VM I/O. Yes, it will impact certain operations such as creation of new VMs, snapshots, etc, but will not impact the current running VMs. This is because the VASA API calls are currently out of band from ESXi to the storage array via the VP. Now a VASA provider can be configured in a HA mode, so that one VP is the primary and the other(s) are backups. This is what we have done with VSAN which also uses a VP. So this would be a good question to ask your storage vendor .. can your VP be setup in a HA configuration? If not, then you would just need to deploy out a new one. Now, I prefaced the start of this response by saying "ideally", the VP would be stateless. There is no need to storage anything on the VP. However that is not to say that any of our storage array partners have put something into their VPs that would no longer make them stateless. Yet another question to ask your storage vendor.

The other query is in relation to vCenter server. The VVol information that is stored by vCenter server is related to the policies (SPBM) that the VMs are using. Again, if vCenter goes away, this has no impact on the running VMs. The policy information associated with the VM continues to be used by the VMs. The issue is that if you do not have a vCenter server backup and you deploy a new vCenter, then it will not have the policy information for your running VMs. So these policies will need to be recreated, which is possible, though it might be a little tedious/manual. Again, we have ways of doing this for VSAN, and I suspect it is the same for VVols (though I admit I have not tried this scenario). I suspect that this might be why it is a good idea to backup your vCenter (or the VC db).

I'm a bit confused as to why people feel that failures in either of these components can lead to data loss in VVols. I/O to VVols does not depend on vCenter or the VASA Provider. These are components needed for configuration and management, but should not lead to any sort of data loss issues if they are not present. The paradigm with the VVol architecture is that the storage is the source of truth, whilst the VP is your guide. We would hope that the storage vendors do due diligence on their respective implementations, but just like the VAAI implementations of the past, that will probably vary from vendor to vendor.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Any Experience Backing up with VVOL's?

Veeam Logoby dellock6 » Mon Sep 14, 2015 4:37 pm

Thanks Cormac for coming here!

I think the "worst" worry is surfacing here is that vCenter holds the "mapping" of the VVOLs belonging to a given VM, and as such if we loose vCenter, the VVOLs are just a bunch of small luns without any sense. You are now saying that these info are IN the VVOLs themselves? Say it differently, if you blow away completely vCenter and I do not have a backup, I just deploy a new vCenter, mount again the storage container + PE + VASA provider, and after a rescan I see again all the VMs with all their virtual volumes? This sounds comforting if it's so.

Indeed loosing SPBM is not ideal, but it's still better than loosing a VM at all.

Thanks,
Luca
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