Introduction to Veeam® Backup & Replication for VMware

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by Christian Mohn | April 2014 | Enterprise Articles

In this article by Christian Mohn, the author of Learning Veeam® Backup & Replication for VMware vSphere, we will learn about various backup strategies and also go through various components of Veeam Backup and replication.

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Veeam Backup & Replication v7 for VMware is a modern solution for data protection and disaster recovery for virtualized VMware vSphere environments of any size. Veeam Backup & Replication v7 for VMware supports VMware vSphere and VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3), including the latest version VMware vSphere 5.5 and Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 as the management server(s).

Its modular approach and scalability make it an obvious choice regardless of the environment size or complexity. As your data center grows, Veeam Backup & Replication grows with it to provide complete protection for your environment.

Remember, your backups aren't really that important, but your restore is!

Backup strategies

A common train of thought when dealing with backups is to follow the 3-2-1 rule:

  • 3: Keep three copies of your data—one primary and two backups
  • 2: Store the data in two different media types
  • 1: Store at least one copy offsite

This simple approach ensures that no matter what happens, you will be able to have a recoverable copy of your data.

Veeam Backup & Replication lets you accomplish this goal by utilizing the backup copy jobs. Back up your production environment once, then use the backup copy jobs to copy the backed-up data to a secondary location, utilizing the Built-in WAN Acceleration features and to tape for long-term archival. You can even "daisy-chain" these jobs to each other, which ensures that as soon as the backup job is finished, the copy jobs are fired automatically. This allows you to easily accomplish the 3-2-1 rule without the need for complex configurations that makes it hard to manage. Combining this with a Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) backup media rotation scheme, for tape-based archiving, ensures that you always have a recoverable media available. In such a scheme, there are three, or more, backup cycles: daily, weekly, and monthly.

The following table shows how you might create a GFS rotation schedule:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

 

 

 

 

WEEK 1

MON

TUE

WED

THU

WEEK 2

MON

TUE

WED

THU

WEEK 3

MON

TUE

WED

THU

WEEK 4

MON

TUE

WED

THU

MONTH 1

"Grandfather" tapes are kept for a year, "Father" tapes for a month, and "Son" tapes for a week.

In addition, quarterly, half-yearly, and/or annual backups could also be separately retained if required.

Recovery point objective and recovery time objective

Both these terms come into play when defining your backup strategy. The recovery point objective (RPO) is a definition of how much data you can afford to lose. If you run backups every 24 hours, you have, in effect, defined that you can afford to lose up to a day's worth of data for a given application or infrastructure. If that is not the case, you need to have a look at how often you back up that particular application.

The recovery time objective (RTO) is a measure of the amount of time it should take to restore your data and return the application to a steady state. How long can your business afford to be without a given application? 2 hours? 24 hours? A week? It all depends, and it is very important that you as a backup administrator have a clear understanding of the business you are supporting to evaluate these important parameters.

Basically, it boils down to this: If there is a disaster, how much downtime can your business afford? If you don't know, talk to the people in your organization who know. Gather information from the various business units in order to assist in determining what they consider acceptable. Odds are that your views as an IT professional might not coincide with the views of the business units; determine their RPO and RTO values, and determine a backup strategy based on that.

Native tape support

By popular demand, native tape support was introduced in Veeam Backup & Replication v7. While the most effective method of backup might be disk based, lots and lots of customers still want to make use of their existing investment in tape technology.

Standalone drives, tape libraries, and Virtual Tape Libraries (VTL) are all supported and make it possible to use tape-based solutions for long-term archival of backup data.

Basically any tape device recognized by the Microsoft Windows server on which Backup & Replication is installed is also supported by Veeam. If Microsoft Windows recognizes the tape device, so will Backup & Replication. It is recommended that customers check the user guide and Veeam Forums (http://forums.veeam.com) for more information on native tape support.

Veeam Backup & Replication architecture

Veeam Backup & Replication consists of several components that together make up the complete architecture required to protect your environment.

This distributed backup architecture leaves you in full control over the deployment, and the licensing options make it easy to scale the solution to fit your needs. Since it works on the VM layer, it uses advanced technologies such as VMware vSphere Changed Block Tracking (CBT) to ensure that only the data blocks that have changed since the last run are backed up, ensuring that the backup is performed as quickly as possible and that the least amount of data needs to be transferred each time.

By talking directly to the VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP), Veeam Backup & Replication can back up VMs without the need to install agents or otherwise touch the VMs directly. It simply tells the vSphere environment that it wants to take a backup of a given VM; vSphere then creates a snapshot of the VM, and the VM is read from the snapshot to create the backup. Once the backup is finished, the snapshot is removed, and changes that happened to the VM while it was backed up are rolled back into the production VM.

By integrating with VMware Tools and Microsoft Windows VSS, application-consistent backups are provided if available in the VMs that are being backed up. For Linux-based VMs, VMware Tools are required and its native quiescence option is used.

Not only does it let you back up your VMs and restore them if required, but you can also use it to replicate your production environment to a secondary location. If your secondary location has a different network topology, it helps you remap and re-IP your VMs in case there is a need to failover a specific VM or even an entire datacenter.

Of course, failback is also available once the reason for the failover is rectified and normal operations can resume.

Veeam Backup & Replication components

The Veeam Backup & Replication suite consists of several components, which in combination, make up the backup and replication architecture.

  • Veeam backup server: This is installed on a physical or virtual Microsoft Windows server. Veeam backup server is the core component of an implementation, and it acts as the configuration and control center that coordinates backup, replication, recovery verification, and restore tasks. It also controls jobs scheduling and resource allocation, and is the main entry point configuring the global settings for the backup infrastructure.

    The backup server uses the following services and components:

    • Veeam Backup Service: This is the main components that coordinates all operations, such as backup, replication, recovery verification, and restore tasks.
    • Veeam Backup Shell: This is the application user interface.
    • Veeam Backup SQL Database: This is used by the other components to store data about the backup infrastructure, backup and restore jobs, and component configuration. This database instance can be installed locally or on a remote server.
    • Veeam Backup PowerShell Snap-in: These are extensions to Microsoft Windows PowerShell that add a set of cmdlets for management of backup, replication, and recovery tasks through automation.

Backup proxy

Backup proxies are used to offload the Veeam backup server and are essential as you scale your environment. Backup proxies can be seen as data movers, physical or virtual, that run a subset of the components required on the Veeam backup server.

These components, which include the Veeam transport service, can be installed in a matter of seconds and are fully automated from the Veeam backup server. You can deploy and remove proxy servers as you see fit, and Veeam Backup &Replication will distribute the backup workload between available backup proxies, thus reducing the load on the backup server itself and increasing the amount of simultaneous backup jobs that can be performed.

Backup repository

A backup repository is just a location where Veeam Backup & Replication can store backup files, copies of VMs, and metadata. Simply put, it's nothing more than a folder on the assigned disk-based backup storage.

Just as you can offload the backup server with multiple proxies, you can add multiple repositories to your infrastructure and direct backup jobs directly to them to balance the load.

The following repository types are supported:

  • Microsoft Windows or Linux server with local or directly attached storage: Any storage that is seen as a local/directly attached storage on a Microsoft Windows or Linux server can be used as a repository. That means that there is great flexibility when it comes to selecting repository storage; it can be locally installed storage, iSCSI/FC SAN LUNs, or even locally attached USB drives.

    When a server is added as a repository, Veeam Backup & Replication deploys and starts the Veeam transport service, which takes care of the communication between the source-side transport service on the Veeam backup server (or proxy) and the repository. This ensures efficient data transfer over both LAN and WAN connections.

  • Common Internet File System (CIFS) shares: CIFS (also known as Server Message Block (SMB)) shares are a bit different as Veeam cannot deploy transport services to a network share directly. To work around this, the transport service installed on a Microsoft Windows proxy server handles the connection between the repository and the CIFS share.

Summary

In this article, we will learned about various backup strategies and also went through some components of Veeam® Backup and Replication.

Resources for Article:


Further resources on this subject:


Learning Veeam® Backup & Replication for VMware vSphere Learn how to protect your data in your VMware vSphere infrastructure with Veeam® Backup & Replication with this book and ebook
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About the Author :


Christian Mohn

Christian Mohn is a VMware vExpert, an IT industry veteran, and a blogger with more than 16 years of real-world experience. Christian currently works as a virtualization architect for Norway's largest IT company EVRY, where he designs and implements virtualization solutions for enterprise clients as well as serves as the Tech Champion for server virtualization.

Prior to joining EVRY, he was the Infrastructure Manager for a large Norwegian shipping company, where he introduced virtualization throughout the organization.

He is also one of the hosts of the vSoup Virtualization Podcast and is well known for his contributions to the virtualization community through his virtualization blog vNinja.net.

Christian lives in Bergen, Norway, with his wife and two kids.

He was one of the technical reviewers of VMware vSphere 5.1 Cookbook, Abhilash GB, Packt Publishing, and wrote the foreword for Building End-User Computing Solutions with VMware View, Mike Laverick and Barry Coombs, Lulu.

In addition to this, he has written whitepapers and held several technical webinars for Veeam®.

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