Geoff_B
Contributor
Contributor

Bare metal backup / restore for ESX?

Does anyone know of a bare metal backup utility to back up an entire ESX server to local SCSI connected Tape drive? Something like Norton Ghost, but I guess it would be helpful if it understood vmfs file systems.

Configuration I have is a single ESX server with local SCSI attached LTO-3 library, internal SCSI storage. File backups are done with Bakbone Netvault installed on one of the partitions.

Or is there another approach I can take?

Thanks!

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12 Replies
Erik_Bussink
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Unfortunately, only VMware ESX can read the VMFS file system. You could access the VMFS partitions thru the Service console with a normal enterprise backup program.

I think the best bare metal restore would be a clean install from cdrom our USB (if supported). Or some kind of PXE boot using a kickstart deployment script.

Erik Bussink Solution Architect @VMware CISSP, VCP#67, RHCE, DCUCD
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daniel345
Contributor
Contributor

Just wonder how linux dump command works here, you would probaly need to shutdown all hosts. To backup online hosts I recommend esXpress at http://www.esxpress.com

Message was edited by:

daniel345

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Curdasss
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I'm going to concur that the best way to do this would be to backup using esxRanger or express or something along those lines and then use an install and restore the VM's back to the server. The server install is fairly quick and there aren't a lot of configuration changes, and no programs to install so bare medal restores aren't really super important.

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buckethead
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

What we have used in the past that has worked is to make a kickstart file of each server. In that case we rebuilt a new machine using the CD and kickstart file for that server. We then applied the patches (now this took the longest time) and then re-registered the virtual machines.

How are you backing up the individual virtual machines? Ranger and esxPress are both very good

Geoff_B
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for all the replies.

Our standard back app is Bakbone Netvault which is not supported as a server on ESX, I'll take a look at Ranger and esxPress though, one quick question, do they support locally attached tape drives? A lot of the backup apps I've seen only support running a client on ESX and having a separate physical machine for the backup server.

Kickstart is an interesting idea, are there any docs around for how to do this? Or is it as simple as using the anaconda-ks.cfg on the installed machine?

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Erik_Bussink
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

Bakbone Netvault doesn't need to be really compatible with VMware ESX. it needs to be compatible with the Service Console (which is running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3)

Red Hat has this to say on Bakbone Netvault 7.4[/b]

https://www.redhat.com/apps/isv_catalog/AppProfile.html?application_id=1540

BakBone conducted extensive interoperability tests to ensure seamless high-level performance for joint customers running Red Hat Enterprise Linux. BakBone's data protection and recovery software NetVault: Backup v7.4 delivers an easy-to-deploy, affordable solution for Linux that eliminates the need for costly professional service charges and administrative training. Working closely with Red Hat, BakBone guarantees to deliver enhanced data protection through NetVault: Backup, the Company's award winning software, on Red Hat's Linux distributions providing customers robust protection of their business-critical data. BakBone's data protection guarantee is an ongoing commitment on certifying and supporting a full range of Red Hat platforms with NetVault:Backup, backup and recovery software, helps to ensure customer confidence in deploying enterprise applications on Linux distributions. ... BakBone gives Red Hat customers an expanded Linux choice with Red Hat's newest open source operating platform for commercial and enterprise environments. Including more than 350 enhancements, BakBone and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, version 4, delivers a robust enterprise-strength Linux solution.

...

Platform(s):

...

  • RHEL3 for x86,

...[/i]

so you might still leverage your bakbone Netvault implementation with your VMware ESX servers.

Erik Bussink Solution Architect @VMware CISSP, VCP#67, RHCE, DCUCD
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petedr
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

I agree with what is being said about the ESX server itself. It is easier to just reinstall it. One thing we do is to copy and save the /etc directory which has most of your server configuration values.

On guest backups we use esXpress, works great. It doesn't support backups direct to tape though as you are asking. esXpress can send backups to ftp or ssh targets and also to VMFS. What we do is send our backups to a central backup server and then write to tape from there using custom scripts.

There are some risks with hooking a tape drive directly to your host. If you do have drive issues and the server requires a reboot you then will also be bring down your Virtuals.

www.thevirtualheadline.com www.liquidwarelabs.com
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buckethead
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

According to the roadmap for esx Ranger Pro on Vizioncore's site they will be adding backup to tape in a future release around September.

http://www.vizioncore.com/esxRangerProRoadMap.html

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g-mac
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

We also do it this way.. decide on a standardized install and don't worry about backing up the ESX. It only takes a few minutes to re-install.

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juchestyle
Commander
Commander

Hey man,

Restoring an ESX host is more trouble than it is worth, compared to using a script to reinstall everything.

Think about it, you would have to reinstall the ESX server and then you would have to run your backups to restore the information. After all that work doesn't it just make sense to have a script to reinstall that host, and then just put back the vm files?

Respectfully,

Matthew

Kaizen!
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Geoff_B
Contributor
Contributor

Ok, re-installing ESX would not be a big issue, but I still can't see a solution for backing up the vmfs files to local tape drive.

My main criteria would be:

1. Must be a single box solution, e.g. no external backup server. Backups and restores go to local tape

2. Restore must be a straight forward as possible.

I've tried netvault installation which works on ESX, but there is no GUI so I cannot connect to the management interface. I can install a client on ESX and server on one partition and backup that way, but to restore would be really messy.

I feel there must be an easier single box solution for ESX, unless I'm taking the completely wrong approach to this.

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Curdasss
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I do not believe as of right there is a way to backup to a locally attached tape drive. The reason for this is that VMware does not won't the overhead that would cause being on the ESX server which is totally understandable. The recommended way of doing backups is through a backup server, either using Esxpress, esxRanger, or VCB in some way. You export the VM's out to a backup file then backup that file to tape with your backup program. Then the restore would be restore to disk and import the VM's back into ESX, all of this can be scripted.