Virtual server backup is a known pain point among backup administrators. Companies can back up virtual servers the same way they back up physical servers by installing backup agents and managing each backup individually, but many users have reported that this method is not satisfactory.
At VMworld 2008, a number of announcements promised improvements in virtual server backup. Vizioncore Inc., a third-party VMware server backup vendor, announced new virtualization management for data backup and recovery. BakBone Software Inc. announced a NetVault backup plug-in to provide a simple way to achieve VMware data protection. Symantec Corp. now offers Veritas NetBackup support for restoring individual files or a full virtual machine (VM) with a single VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) backup pass.
These are steps in the right direction, but most agree that there's still room for improvement.
In our tutorial, learn all about VMware backup with this collection of articles on VMware backup and restore, VMware Consolidated Backup, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and more.
It's pretty safe to say that server virtualization, specifically in the form of VMware, has been a boon to IT folks. It's resolving issues related to server sprawl, resource consumption, server provisioning, and even power consumption and high availability.
The most prevalent backup challenges are ensuring data consistency and addressing excessive consumption of VMware's underlying physical resources.
Read more about VMware data backup and restore methods.
VCB requires some preparation and understanding for backup administrators currently used to the traditional physical enterprise backup solution. VCB is not a complete backup solution for VMs, because it does not:
- Perform specialized application backups (like Microsoft Exchange Information Store or Windows Server System State)
- Perform file-level backups of non-Windows VMs
- Provide management, cataloging or archiving of backup files
- Provide direct file restores to VMs
Read more about VMware Consolidated Backup.
As noted above, users have reported issues with backing up VMs using a software-based agent. This method can overload the I/O resources of the physical server. Replacing the agent with a proxy server that offloads the backup process to a separate physical server can help. Many vendors, including CA, HP and Syncsort, have integrated their backup packages with VCB.
"We use [Syncsort's] Backup Express Agent to do block-level backups of our data," William Grainger, network analyst for the Alachua County government in Gainesville, Fla. "We can instantly map a drive to a different server to make data available. With a tape backup, what would take hours takes minutes now. If we have a drive failure, we can use iSCSI to map to the volume on the SAN, take a point-in-time copy and map a drive to it. To the end user, it is seamless -- they don't even know it happens."
Read more about VM backup with CA, HP and Syncsort.
The concept behind VMware's Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is to centralize desktop operating systems, applications and data in the data center. Desktop operating systems and applications run in VMs on data center servers, but users access the "virtual desktop" and applications from a thick or thin client through remote display software.
Backup and disaster recovery of virtual desktops that leverage shared storage is simplified and centralized, and backup network traffic is eliminated. Data protection solutions in the data center -- such as backup, snapshot and continuous data protection (CDP) -- can be used to protect virtual desktops.
Read more about centralizing data protection with VMware VDI.