We have 6 Exchange 2010 (sp1) servers, 3 of them are mailbox servers set up in DAG. (we are running vsphere 5.1 u1 with ESXi 5.1 u2, 5 hosts in HA/DRS cluster)
I don't know where to start with respect to;
1) Backing up
2) Recovery / DR
In respect of backing up are using TSM but I am new to this so am lost at the moment - just want some general strategies so I can then get into the nitty gritty.
(We have access to the latest TSM servers/clients)
I understand you can not (or it is not supported) use full VM backups as Microsoft does not support it (to do with the VSS writers) - is that correct - and if so how would you do a full DR restore (rebuild from a Gold Image manauly and then do exchange restore?).
Could we do a non VSS full backup of the VM (I understand you can specify in the .vmx file to not use VMware tools to not quiesce the file system) and do exchange restore over that ?
Any caveats or general guidance - may seem like an open question but just looking for general ideas of a strategy not an in depth 'how to', once I have the strategy in place I can look at how to do it.
Exchange server is a beast, you would need to follow Microsoft recommendation for recovering Exchange server in the event of failure. I would recommend to stay within a supported configuration and don't attempt to perform unsupported restore unless otherwise directed by Microsoft. I don't think there is anything special required for the VM hosting Exchange server as long as you have all the pre-rep installed and then you will need to follow Exchange server recovery procedure. I would suggest posting something is Microsoft Technet forums.
Exchange Server 2010 Best practise http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/exchange-2010-on-vmware-best-practices-guide.pdf
You have 2 options – go from VM angle (backup whole VM, use VSS – everyone does) but lose some Exchange-specific functionality, or go from OS angle, forget about virtualization and use Exchange-specific tools that are Exchange-aware, truncate logs, do incrementals, backup mailboxes, etc.
There are products that can do only one approach, but you are much better off with solutions that offer both. Acronis has something of that sorts, and you could look around for more.
TSM is not that easy. I am using veem backup and replication for 4 years now and have to say its easy to do a recovery even an exchange server.
in case of disaster just start the replica