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ScotofMKE
Contributor
Contributor

How backup to NAS or iSCSI then run VM from that device?

I posted this in the Backup and Recovery area, but it is rather silent over there.  I deleted it, and am now trying this more helpful forum.

For disaster recovery purposes, I would like to backup VMs to a NAS or iSCSI device.  The goal is if my host server (with direct attached storage) fails, I could attach another host to the NAS/iSCSI device, add it as a datastore, and continue working.  Seems simple.  We own Backup Exec 2010 R2 and would like to use the backup-to-disk option, but their statements suggest they do not support NAS devices.   FastSCP only backs up VMs that are shut down.  VMWare Data Recovery might work, but it takes a snapshot which Microsoft will only support for SQL environments if VSS is involved.  Anyone have software suggestions for accomplishing the above?

P.S. I'll take recommendations for NAS/iSCSI devices for an SMB environment.

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9 Replies
DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

I would have a look at ghettoVCB script for backup to NFS. http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760 or the ghettoVCBg2 http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-9843 scripts are both excellent for scheduled bachkups of your VMs. In the event of a problem with local storage there is no restore necessary. Attach the NFS as a datastore to a replacement host and run directly from the backup.

There are many suitable NAS devices. You can check the HCL for supported devices. You can also simply use a normal Linux distribution and enable a NFS share. A one line configuration is all it takes. You can also use things like openfiler or FreenNAs or Open-E or Starwind and others.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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ScotofMKE
Contributor
Contributor

I am cautious when it comes to getting DR right, and am not a fan of working with scripts. Too many links in the chain.

After reading more about VMWare Data Recovery, it looks like it could be the solution.  What I can't determine from all the websites I have read is whether I could run the VM off the image copied to the NAS or iSCSI device.  Does VMWare DR simply copy the VMDK and other files, or does it put it in some other format?

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DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

The ghetto scripts are very very reliable and used by hundreds, and perhaps thousands of people, including me. The added benefit as I said is that they run from the backup.

vDR uses change block tracking to copy just the changed blocks to the destination disk after the first run. Deduplication is also a part of vDR so there isn't really a VMDK file in the backup destination. You must run a restore to get a functional VM. Restore of several VMs will take time.

I also use vDR as well as other backup tools. The benefit to vDR is that you can retain many restore point (weeks, months etc) of many VMs in a fairly small space due to the deduplication and changed blocks.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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Craer
Contributor
Contributor

I know you said you dont like scripts, but figured i would post anyways.

We dont use GhettoVCB but we currently do this exact function with a powercli script that goes through each vm, backs it up to a different datastore, and then imports it into our DR VMware cluster.  Its using the vStorage api and works like a champ.  If you would like i could share the script with you, let me know.

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Craer
Contributor
Contributor

Also, like dstavert said, GhettoVCB is a really good script and it is really reliable.  We just chose to do our own for our own learning i guess 😃

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DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

vDR can use a VMDK as a destination disk or a CIFS share (Windows). CIFS is not the best of destinations (slower than a datastore location). iSCSI can be used since it can be attached as a datastore. The vDR destination disk is limited to 1TB although it is best to limit the size to 200 to 300 GB. CIFS is limited to 500GB.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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ScotofMKE
Contributor
Contributor

Because this server is running a critical SQL database, the copied VM wouldn't be supported by Microsoft because VSS is not involved. 

As for the file system, it looks like mounting an existing VMFS volume is the only option I have for attaching to a datastore.  Does the VMFS volume get created on top of any disk (iSCSI, Fibre Channel, NFS), or only specific ones?  What I understand so far is that the VMDK exists on a VMFS file system on top of some disk, and I want to copy the VMDK in a VMFS file system from the existing disk to some other disk for DR. 

With the different file systems and disk options and no document piecing it all together, this has become rather complicated.  

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ScotofMKE
Contributor
Contributor

It looks like an iSCSI device will support VMFS datastores.  The next step has been to list the iSCSI devices on VMWare's HCL.  When visiting the sites for the products, however, none of them so far list any VMWare OS as a compatible OS.  Is my request so off the wall...to backup a VM directly to a datastore on an iSCSI device using the VMFS file system?  How are others doing this? 

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DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

As long as VMware tools is installed you should get a quiessed copy. You will need to take a snapshot or shut down the VM in order to copy the VMDKs which by the way is a clone.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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