Contributor
Contributor

3i and hot backups, novice question:)

Hi,

we are evaluating vmware 3i on a Dell host, installation went smooth and everything is working as expected.

Our vm are stored on the local disk, that's formatted with vmfs3, and

we decided to add an external NFS datastore to clone virtual machines

over the network. That should serve in the event of an hardware problem

of the host.

First problem we got is that the scripting interface looks pretty "basic" to us, there is no way to script "chained task" like

first stop a vm , then

clone it over the network, then

restart it

We can have 3 scripts doing this, but there is no possibility to start

a task when the one before has finished. So the first question is: do

we have to use some software api tool to schedule such complex tasks ?

Also we have doubts about the possibility to use such cloned vm's with other vmware products.

Disk format is VMFS, that, for instance is not supported by the free

vmware server, so it's seems to be mandatory to have 2 licensed 3i

servers, one as a backup of the other, sharing the same nfs storage.

Is there a way to convert VMFS disks into "flat" disks so that we can

have one or more "free" vmware server backup hosts for disaster

recovery? Converter does not seem to fit the purpose.

Another possibility would be cloning machines over the nfs storage with

a different disk type. This would look more like "an export" than "a

clone" of a vm ... it does not seem possible, anyhow.

Tnx for any help, best regards!

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10 Replies
Immortal
Immortal

Is there a way to convert VMFS disks into "flat" disks so that we can

have one or more "free" vmware server backup hosts for disaster

recovery? Converter does not seem to fit the purpose.

You need the stand alone version of converter. The enterprise add-in won't let you create a stand alone -flat file. Version 4 is compatible with VM server 1.04, Version 5 is comptable with Workstation 6.

First problem we got is that the scripting interface looks pretty "basic" to us, there is no way to script "chained task" like > first stop a vm , then

clone it over the network, then

restart it> We can have 3 scripts doing this, but there is no possibility to start

a task when the one before has finished. So the first question is: do

we have to use some software api tool to schedule such complex tasks ?

That's correct, there is no easy way to automate this. That's why you create templates. A template is where you make a VM that is ready to go to be deployed, so you don't have to interrupt your running VM's to clone. You pre-clone them as a template. But I think you can only create templates with VC (virtual server), not a stand alone host. You can put the stand alone -flat file someplace and import it when you want to create a new VM.

The NFS export will let you see that volume a datastore. Then you can clone or deploy your machines just like VMFS

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Contributor
Contributor

First problem we got is that the scripting interface looks pretty "basic" to us, there is no way to script "chained task" like > first stop a vm , then

clone it over the network, then

restart it> We can have 3 scripts doing this, but there is no possibility to start

a task when the one before has finished. So the first question is: do

we have to use some software api tool to schedule such complex tasks ?

That's correct, there is no easy way to automate this. That's why you create templates. A template is where you make a VM that is ready to go to be deployed, so you don't have to interrupt your running >VM's to clone. You pre-clone them as a template. But I think you can only create templates with VC (virtual server), not a stand alone host. You can put the stand alone -flat file someplace and import it when >you want to create a new VM.

Keep in mind that we are looking to accomplish this for backup, so we cant use templates. Is there a way to backup a running vm ?

Our idea was to stop the vm, then clone it offsite (over nfs). This task should be automated every night. Maybe that's not the correct way to handle backups .. what do you think ?

Tnx for your quick answer, appreciated!

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Expert
Expert

You could run VCB in a helper VM on the ESX host. VCB can dump the backup of the other VMs to the NFS device. You will not have to shut the VMs down, VCB will snapshot them. Also the backup files it creates can be imported back with converter.

VCB is part of VI Standard so it will depend on how you licensed the 3i.

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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

Is there a way to backup a running vm ?

Vmware Converter is a hot-imaging product - you could regularly reimage the server and ship that off to your DR or backup store without stopping the machine - there is a system performance hit but not more than a backup would cause.

I am uncertain of it's scriptabilty however, as I have not attempted to do such a thing with it.

My understanding is that Vizioncore's products are considered the best-for-purpose in this situation, you should perhaps check them out (not an employee, just a user thereof)

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Contributor
Contributor

Vmware Converter is a hot-imaging product - you could regularly reimage the server and ship that off to your DR or backup store without stopping the machine - there is a system performance hit but not more than a backup would cause.

I'm testing out converter right now, version 3.0, eval licence. It does not seem to "convert" running vm's ...any idea ?

Tnx!

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Enthusiast
Enthusiast

I'm testing out converter right now, version 3.0, eval licence. It does not seem to "convert" running vm's ...any idea ?

Tnx!

Once again, I've not tried to use it for the purpose that you are putting it to.

However with a physical server, you would logon to the machine as the system administrator, install Vmware Converter and select the option to convert this machine - there may be a limitation to running it within a VM that I am unaware of, but it does need to operate from within the server it is converting for this process to work effectively.

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Expert
Expert

Vizioncore do not currently have support for 3i.

For 3i your only options for backup are traditional host level in the VM (backup agents, live state recovery etc) or VCB.

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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I would use VCB, if you have licensed this feature. It will automatically handle the snapshot, let you map at a fullVM level (and file level if it's a Windows machine). You can then back up using whatever backup solution you wish, and then VCB will again automatically handle the unmounting of the images and reversion of the snapshot. That is the reason for VCB, for a consolidated backup solution for performing "hot" backups of running VM's.

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Contributor
Contributor

I would use VCB, if you have licensed this feature. It will automatically handle the snapshot, let you map at a fullVM level (and file level if it's a Windows machine).

VCB works great! Does it exists a "vcbMounter.exe" for linux ?

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Hot Shot
Hot Shot

To the best of my knowledge, VCB is a windows only app. If you use Linux for your backup software, but still want to use VCB, I would just use a windows box as the proxy server to host VCB, and run pre and post commands from your tape backup software remotely on the windows machine prior to backing it up.

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