Altaro Continuous Data Protection

Altaro v7.6 introduces a Continuous Data Protection (CDP) feature which reduces data loss by providing Recovery Point Objectives (RPO) of up to 5 minutes. Altaro CDP works by saving a point in time copy of the virtual machine based on snapshots at set intervals, configurable per host or per virtual machine. The frequency options available are every 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, every hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, or 12 hours. Each version of a CDP backup is retained for 4 hours since the last successful backup, after this CDP backups are merged into a single recovery point and kept in accordance with your own configured retention policy.

Altaro v7.6 is available now, you can read about what is new in v7.6 here. CDP is initially available for Hyper-V, with VMware expected mid Q2 this year. This post will be updated when VMware CDP compatiblity is added.

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Configuring CDP

  • If you do not already have Altaro VM Backup installed see the Altaro VM Backup Install and Overview post. You can download a copy of Altaro here.
  • The CDP Settings option can be accessed from the navigation pane of the Altaro VM Backup management console, under Setup. Hosts that have been added to Altaro are listed, along with any discovered VMs.
  • Use the Enable CDP check box and Maximum Frequency drop down to configure CDP with the desired settings.

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  • When configuring CDP there should already be a backup schedule and backup location in place for the virtual machines. If you have not yet configured this part then see the install and overview post referenced above.
  • Click Save Changes to commit the CDP configuration.

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  • The first time you configure CDP backups the VM Backup management console will display a warning about the Backup Health Monitor. The Backup Health Monitor verifies the state of backup data, during which time backups cannot run.
  • Depending on your environment and desired configuration you can change the schedule of the Backup Health Monitor to not conflict with CDP backups.
  • Once CDP backups are in use they become available restore points for restoring virtual machines.

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  • The Backup Health Monitor can also be configured from the navigation pane under Sandbox & Configuration.

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In summary, Altaro CDP boosts business continuity by allowing administrators to recover to a more granular point in time; thereby reducing data loss from virtual machine restores. The feature is easy to configure and the frequency options provide near continuous data protection with the maximum data loss being up to 5 minutes, this along with application consistent backups should be sufficient protection for most business critcal applications. When planning implementation of a CDP model you should consider other factors such as network bandwidth, and hypervisor performance, for example having a high number of machines taking snapshots every 5 minutes on the same host may add a CPU/memory overhead.

Altaro v7.6 is available now, you can download here.

Altaro VM Backup 7.5 Install and Overview

In this post we will install and configure Altaro VM Backup 7.5 whilst taking a look at the some of the key features. Version 7.5 introduces cloud backup to Azure and restore from Azure to Altaro instances in different locations. The Cloud Management Console (CMC) allows for users to monitor and manage all installations of Altaro through an intuitive and easy to use web client accessible anywhere. Support for vSphere 6.5 is also now included, for a full list of the new functionality see this post.

Overview

Altaro allows users to backup VMware and Hyper-V environments; taking application and file consistent backups of Windows, Linux, and applications compatible with the Microsoft VSS writer including Exchange and SQL. Backups benefit from compression, inline deduplication, and military grade encryption configurable right down to individual VM level. Granular restores also allow for individual file or email restores, as well as sandbox restores. Furthermore Altaro’s unique Backup Health Monitor proactively monitors backups and automatically repairs or replaces any corruption as part of the next backup job. Advanced automation and reporting can be configured using Altaro’s built in REST API. Altaro has easily accessible pricing and licensing information, and multiple channels to engage technical support including live chat from within the management console itself.

  • See the graphic below for a summary of Altaro features for each licensing option. For full product, version, and pricing information click here.
  • The Altaro VM Backup Quick Start Guide can be reviewed here, and full product user guides here. Altaro Support and FAQ can be accessed here.

Versions

Install

The installation of the main backup console is simple and quick. Download the installer to a Windows machine and run as administrator. Accept the license agreement, set the destination, and hit Install. Altaro VM Backup can run on 64 bit versions of Windows 7, 8, or 10, and Windows Server 2008 R2 through to Windows 2016 (including Hyper-V and Core versions).

Once the install has completed open the management console. The VM Backup management console offers an intuitive user interface, allowing for local or remote management of multiple Altaro instances. In this example we’ll connect to the instance running on the local machine.

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After connecting to the new instance the dashboard will load with a handy quick setup workflow.

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Step 1 is to add the hosts to backup. In this example we’re using VMware so after clicking Add Hyper V / VMware Host select VMware vCenter Server and Next.

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Enter and validate the vCenter Server information using Test Connection, click Next.

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Review the hosts detected and click Finish. The hosts and inventory information from the specified vCenter Server are now added to the management console. We can see the host status and number of VMs for each host that has been added.

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The product comes with a 30 day fully functioning trial. At any time you can install a license key by clicking Manage License under Setup and Hosts.

Step 2 is to configure a backup location, this can be a physical drive or network path. From the dashboard workflow click Choose Where to Store Backups.

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For the purposes of this lab installation we will use the data drive of the Windows server.

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Multiple backup locations can be added. Once a backup location is configured you can drag and drop VMs, clusters, datacenters, or vCenters into the appropriate area. After adding a local or LAN based backup location you can also add an offsite location, such as a WAN or Azure target. When the objects you require backing up are all assigned a backup location click Save Changes.

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The final step in the workflow is to take our first backup, to take an on demand backup straight away click Take First Backup. Backup schedules and retention policies can be configured from the navigation menu on the left hand side. You’ll also notice Notifications and Advanced Settings where deduplication, encryption, and CBT can be configured on a per object basis, as well as providing the ability to exclude certain drives. Application consistent backups and truncating logs can be enabled under VSS Settings.

Cloud Management Console

The Cloud Management Console (CMC) can be accessed here. When you first login the getting started dashboard will be displayed, use the workflow to link an Altaro VM Backup installation.

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A one time access key is generated to link the Cloud Management Console with the Altaro VM Backup installation. From the management console click the CMC button and enter this code to pair the installation with the CMC.

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Once CMC is paired with your Altaro VM Backup instance you can monitor and manage the backup environment using the web client. Multiple installations can be added to CMC.

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Vembu Install Guide – Part 2 vSphere Configuration

Following on from the previous installation of Vembu Backup Server v3.7 on Windows Server 2016; this post will walk through the configuration steps to add a vCenter target and configure virtual machine backup jobs.

Vembu Install Guide – Part 1 Installation

Vembu Install Guide – Part 2 vSphere Configuration

Initial Configuration

On the Windows server running Vembu Backup Server browse to https://localhost:6061 and login with the default username and password of admin admin. Alternatively from a remote machine browse to the FQDN or IP address of the Vembu Backup Server over port 6061. If you changed the web UI port or default credentials during setup then update accordingly.

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The Vembu BDR dashboard will load.

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When logging in you will notice the license notification in the bottom left hand corner. The full feature set is available for 30 days, after which you can continue with Vembu BDR Suite free edition. To purchase licenses you can register the server from the Management tab, under Server Management, and Server Registration.

Email notifications can also be configured from the Management tab, under Settings, and Email Settings.

If you didn’t configure a backup repository during installation then we’ll need to do this now before continuing. Select the Management tab, from the drop down menu and click Storage Management.

Select the appropriate location for the backup repository, this can be a local disk:

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Or a SAN / NAS hosted network share:

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Configuring vSphere Backups

Once a valid storage repository is in place we can begin configuring backup jobs. First let’s add the vCenter: from the Backup tab select VMware vSphere. Click Add VMware vSphere Server and enter the vCenter FQDN or IP address, and credentials. Click Save.

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Added vCenter Servers can be viewed in the List VMware Servers page.

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Setup a backup job by clicking Backup next to the relevant vCenter Server, the backup wizard loads.

Select the clusters, hosts or VMs to backup. You can exclude VMs or individual disks here also. When you’re ready, click Next.

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Set the backup schedule to your own preferences, and click Next.

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Configure the appropriate retention policy and click Next.

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Application aware backups can be configured here, select any servers that require application consistent snapshots, such as Exchange, SQL, etc. and select whether transaction logs should be truncated post backup. You need to enter valid guest OS credentials, create a service account for this purpose if one doesn’t already exist.

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Review the settings, and click Next. You can run the backup straight away by ticking the option if required.

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Click Ok to confirm creation of the new backup job, you will now see this in the list of backup jobs.

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If you opted to run the backup immediately you will see the backup progress page.

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You can run the backup at any time from the List all Backups page, and also edit or delete backup jobs.

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Vembu Install Guide – Part 1 Installation

Vembu Install Guide – Part 2 vSphere Configuration

 

Vembu Install Guide – Part 1 Installation

This post will walk through the installation of Vembu BDR Server v3.7 on Windows Server 2016, in preparation for backing up a VMware environment. At the time of writing the most recent version is v3.7.0 Update 1, which provides compatibility with vSphere 6.5.

Vembu Install Guide – Part 1 Installation

Vembu Install Guide – Part 2 vSphere Configuration

About Vembu BDR Suite

Vembu BDR Suite consists of a number of key products and is available in both free and paid for versions. Vembu free edition offers agentless VMware and Hyper-V backup and restore for virtual environments, and disk image backups for physical Windows machines. In both cases Vembu backups take application-aware snapshots using application-specific VSS writers to ensure clean and consistent recovery of Exchange, SQL Server, Active Directory, and Sharepoint. Transaction log files are truncated after each successful backup.

The free Vembu BDR Suite is sufficient for protecting servers in test or production environments for small to medium businesses. The free version includes a 30 day trial of advanced features such as replication, near Continuous Data Protection (CDP) providing RTO & RPO of under 15 minutes, Changed Block Tracking (CBT), and offsite backup features; offsite DR replication, cloud DR replication, WAN acceleration, distributed Vembu agents, bandwidth throttling, and more. After the 30 day trial ends you can continue to backup unlimited machines forever using the features of the free suite. For a full list see the feature comparison page.

Requirements

Both the free and licensed versions of Vembu BDR Suite can be used to backup unlimited virtual machines forever. When planning an installation consider the following:

  • Vembu BDR Server runs only on 64 bit operating systems: Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2008 R2. Windows 10 is also supported but it is advisable to use only for evaluation purposes.
  • The Vembu BDR Backup Server should have a minimum of 8 GB RAM (16 GB recommended) and 4 vCPU (8 vCPU recommended). The NIC(s) should be 1 Gbps or above.
  • Storage repository for backups can be either a local drive, or any SAN / NAS device connected using CIFS (SMB) or NFS share. When calculating storage also consider adding 10% for storage of metadata.
  • The backup port used is 32004.
  • There are no external database requirements since an embedded Postgres SQL database is used.
  • To save money on Windows licensing you can also deploy the Vembu BDR backup server as a VMware/Hyper-V virtual appliance, this can be obtained from vembu-sales@vembu.com.
  • Vembu 3.7.0 U1 is compatible with versions 4.x of vSphere, right the way through to 6.5, and Hyper-V versions 2008 R2 through to 2016.
  • The Vembu management interface can be accessed using IE v11 and above, Firefox v28 and above, or Chrome v34 and above. Ports 6060 and 6061 should be open.
  • Vembu BDR Suite can be downloaded here and the release notes for v3.7.0 Update 1 here. Ensure you read through the current known limitations in the release notes.

Additional Links

The great thing about Vembu products is the accessibility of information. All the data needed to determine whether Vembu solutions are right for you is available on their website; full product and solution write ups, demos, webinars, datasheets, documentation, knowledgebase, community forum and support, right the way through to visibility on pricing, resellers / distributors and service providers.

Vembu BDR Suite PricingVembu Webinars and DemosVembu Technical DocumentsVembu Product DatasheetsVembu Technology Blog.

Installation Process

Download the Vembu BDR Server here. The installer is the same for both the paid and free versions, you can apply a license for the advanced features or continue to use the unlicensed features at no cost.

Copy the VembuBDRSetup executable to your Windows server, right click and select Run as Administrator, accept any Windows/UAC prompts. The installation wizard will load, click Next.

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Accept the end user license agreement and click Next.

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Review the configuration settings, if you’re going for a simple, straight forward setup then click Install. If you want to customize any of the settings then select Let me customize the configurations.

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The configurations that can be customized are the PostgreSQL Server configuration parameters; such as instance name, installation location, and database storage location (the default installation location for both PostgreSQL and Vembu BDR Backup Server is C:\Program Files).

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The storage repository for backups can be changed, this needs to either be a local drive or any SAN / NAS device connected using CIFS (SMB) or NFS share.

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If required the default web server port and web console username and password can also be updated.

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Accept any new settings and click Install.

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Vembu BDR Backup Server will now be installed.

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Once complete click Finish.

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Providing you left the check boxes on the completion page selected the web console will auto load. Log in with the default username and password of admin admin, unless you changed this during setup.

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Select the required time zone and click Save.

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Enter a unique ID for this particular instance of Vembu BDR and click Update.

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The Vembu BDR dashboard will load.

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Vembu is now installed and we can go ahead and configure our backup targets. In the next post we’ll add a license, a SAN storage repository, and a vCenter, then start backing up some virtual machines.

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Vembu Install Guide – Part 1 Installation

Vembu Install Guide – Part 2 vSphere Configuration

VMware NSX Backup and Restore

This post will detail how to backup and restore NSX. NSX configuration and components configurable through the NSX Manager UI or API are included in the NSX Manager backup. This includes controller nodes, Edge configurations (Distributed Logical Router, Edge Services Gateway), firewall rules, etc. as well as all events and audit log tables. Virtual switches are included in the vCenter Server database backup. When planning a backup strategy for NSX consider the following:

  • NSX Manager backups can be taken on demand, or scheduled at hourly, daily, or weekly intervals.
  • Ensure that the vCenter Server (and database if external) are backed up and factored into the NSX backup schedule. For example if you need to restore the entire environment it is recommended that the NSX Manager backup is taken at the same time as vCenter Server.
  • The only method of backup and restore for NSX Manager is with FTP/SFTP. Using any other method to backup NSX components could result in errors when restoring objects and is not supported by VMware.
  • When restoring NSX Manager a new NSX Manager is deployed and the configuration restored. The restore process of NSX Manager is only compatible from an NSX Manager of the same version. Therefore it is important to backup NSX Manager both before and after upgrades.

NSX Manager Backup

As outlined above, NSX configuration is backed up using the NSX Manager. Open a web browser to the IP address or FQDN of your NSX Manager. Log in with the admin user.

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From the home page select Backup and Restore.

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Click Change next to the FTP Server Settings row.

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Enter the details for the destination FTP/SFTP server, add a filename prefix for the backup files, and configure a pass phrase. Make a note of the pass phrase in a password safe since this will be needed for restores.

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Optional – next to Scheduling click Change to configure a backup schedule.

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Optional – next to Exclude click Change to logs or events from the backup.

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Once the backup server is configured backups will run as scheduled, or click Backup to backup NSX Manager now.

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Click Start to confirm the backup job.

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Completed backups will be listed in the Backup History table.

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To remove a backup you can delete the files from the FTP/SFTP server and it will be removed from the Backup History table when the browser page is refreshed.

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NSX Manager Restore

To restore NSX configuration a new NSX Manager must first be deployed. While it is possible to restore NSX configuration from an existing NSX Manager it is assumed that since a restore is required NSX Manager has failed and it is best practise to deploy a new instance. For assistance with deploying NSX Manager see this post.

Ensure the old NSX Manager is powered off. Deploy a new NSX Manager instance and configure it with a management IP address (this will be temporary, all settings will be reverted back to the previous NSX Manager after the restore is complete).

Log into the newly deployed NSX Manager and select Backup and Restore.

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Click Change next to the FTP Server Settings row.

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When configuring the FTP Server Settings ensure the same settings are configured as when the NSX Manager was backed up. This includes the hostname, username, password, backup directory, filename prefix, and pass phrase.

Select the backup from the Backup History table and click Restore.

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Confirm the restore when prompted. NSX Manager is unavailable during the restore process.

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When the NSX Manager is available log in, the summary page will display a System restore completed message.

vSphere Data Protection Install Guide

This post will walk through the installation of vSphere Data Protection (VDP) 6.1.3; a vSphere integrated backup and recovery solution. Data Protection is based on EMC Avamar deduplication backup and recovery software, and can also integrate with EMC Data Domain for scalability. In addition to full virtual machine backups vSphere Data Protection offers file level restores, application level backup and restores,  backup data replication to remote sites, and reporting. An emergency host level restore feature has been added for situations where the vCenter Server or web interface is unavailable. For more information on the features available to vSphere Data Protection 6.1.x see this technical overview.

Design Considerations

  • vSphere Data Protection is deployed as an OVA template.
  • The virtual appliance can be deployed with the following configurations:
    • 0.5 TB backup datastore, 873 GB disk space, 4 vCPU, 4 GB memory.
    • 1 TB backup datastore, 1600 GB disk space, 4 vCPU, 4 GB memory.
    • 2 TB backup datastore, 3 TB disk space, 4 vCPU, 4 GB memory.
    • 4 TB backup datastore, 6 TB disk space, 4 vCPU, 8 GB memory.
    • 6 TB backup datastore, 9 TB disk space, 4 vCPU, 10 GB memory.
    • 8 TB backup datastore, 12 TB disk space, 4 vCPU, 12 GB memory.
  • The backup datastore can be extended after deployment, up to the maximum size of 8 TB per appliance.
  • For assistance with sizing the appliance for your environment see pages 27 and 28 of the vSphere Data Protection Administratrion Guide.
  • To avoid block size limitations the appliance should be deployed to VMFS5 or later.
  • Each vCenter Server supports up to 20 vSphere Data Protection appliances.
  • Each vSphere Data Protection appliance supports up to 400 virtual machines however…
  • The amount of virtual machines each appliance typically supports is 150 – 200. This is dependent on factors such as the virtual machine size, the amount of changed data, and the date retention period.
  • By default Data Protection can backup machines utilising SAN, NAS, or VSAN datastores.
  • For hosts using DAS, or hosts in remote locations, external proxies can be deployed as virtual appliances from the VDP UI.
  • Up to 8 proxies can be deployed per vSphere Data Protection appliance.
  • Review the vSphere Data Protection 6.1.x Release Notes and vSphere Data Protection Administratrion Guide.

Requirements

  • The table below lists the supported vCenter Server versions for 6.1 variations of vSphere Data Protection.

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  • If you are using vCenter 5.5 U3 with Data Protection 6.1, 6.1.1, or 6.1.2, see this kb.
  • All variations of Data Protection 6.1.x support ESXi 5.1 through to ESXi 6.0 U2. For ESXi 6.5 version 6.1.3 of Data Protection should be used.
  • To check compatibility with any other VMware products see the Product Interoperability Matrix.
  • Editions of vSphere Essentials Plus and above (or vSphere with Operations Management / vCloud Suite) include licensing for vSphere Data Protection.
  • FQDN resolution must be in place. A forward and reverse DNS entry needs manually adding.
  • A static IP address is required for the VDP appliance and any additional proxy appliances.
  • The vCenter Server and attached ESXi hosts must be configured with an NTP server. The VDP appliance pulls the time configuration from vSphere.
  • The following disk types are unsupported: independent, RDM independent (virtual compatibility mode), and RDM physical compatibility mode.
  • Each virtual machine to be backed up should be running VMware Tools and hardware v7 or above.

Install VDP

Download the VMware vSphere Data Protection OVA here. The ISO is used for upgrades. Browse to the vSphere web client and right click the cluster where the virtual appliance will reside. Click Deploy OVF Template. Browse to the downloaded OVA file and click Next.

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Review the OVF template details and click Next.

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Accept the EULA and click Next.

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Enter a name for the virtual appliance and select a location, click Next.

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Select the datastore for the virtual appliance and click Next. Select the VM network to use and click Next.

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Enter the network settings for the virtual appliance. Review the summary page, tick the Power on after deployment box and click Finish.

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Configure VDP

DNS values for forward and reverse lookup must be in place for the configuration wizard. Manually add a DNS host record for the IP address of the virtual appliance and the desired host name and domain.

After deployment browse to https:\\:8543/vdp-configure, where is the IP address or FQDN of the vSphere Data Protection appliance. Log in with the root default password changeme.

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The configuration wizard will load, click Next.

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Enter a host name and domain for the appliance. The network settings are auto- populated, click Next. If DNS forward and reverse lookup values are not in place the wizard will fail at this point.

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Select a time zone and click Next.

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Configure a new root password for the virtual appliance and click Next.

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Enter the vCenter Server details and click Test Connection. If successful click Next.

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Select the size of the datastore to create for backup data, click Next.

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Select the storage to use and the provisioning type, click Next. Accept the default CPU and memory allocations and click Next.

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Select or leave the Customer Experience Improvement Program check box and click Next.

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Select whether or not to run performance analysis on the storage configuration. The performance analysis tests the read, write, and seek speeds of the underlying storage. Once ready click Next to apply the changes. Click Yes to confirm. The virtual appliance will now be reconfigured and rebooted.

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This process can take around 15 minutes depending on your infrastructure. When the appliance is back online a VDP icon will be added to the home page of the vSphere web client, default alarms are also added.

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To view and change settings related to the virtual appliance you can log back into https:\\:8543/vdp-configure, where is the IP address or FQDN of the vSphere Data Protection appliance.

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The installation is now complete and you can begin scheduling backup jobs using the Create Backup Job wizard.

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Veeam Backup Error: Out of the Vector Bound

When running a backup job using Veeam Backup & Replication v8 or v9 the job fails with Error: Out of the vector bound. Record index: [0]. Vector Size: [1] Job finished with error. Running an active full produces the same result. In our case this issue was caused by corruption to the metadata file. This can occur when the metadata file is not properly closed and breaks the chain, potentially down to a file system filling up, or server failure.

To resolve we start a new chain to re-create both full data and metadata. This is done by cleanly deleting records about the backup job from the Veeam Backup & Replication console and configuration database, and deleting backup files themselves from the destination storage. The job itself remains so does not need recreating.

  • First disable the job; open the Veeam Backup & Replication client. Ensure Backup & Replication is selected on the task pane on the left hand side and select Jobs. Right click the failed job and click Disable.

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  • Next we need to remove the corrupted files.  Still in the Backup & Replication task pane select Backups. Right click the failed job and click Delete from disk to remove the backup files and records.

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  • Now go back to the Jobs page and enable the job. Run an Active Full to create new data and metadata files.

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