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csilvest
Contributor
Contributor

Proposed Strategy for implementing SBS 2008 as VM with backups

Hello all, and thanks in advance for any input/feedback on this.  It's my first post in these communities, so forgive me if it's in the wrong group - this seemed like the most appropriate place out of the ones I looked at.

After spending several hours researching how to implement an SBS 2008 Virtual Machine in a cost effective manner (read "free" if possible), it seems like one of the biggest hang-ups is backing up both the virtual machine files and the data.  As near as I can tell, it's not as simple as attaching a USB 2.0 drive to the host (ESXi 4.1) and passing it through to the guest (SBS 2008).  There are some hacks and workarounds, but none of them seem like desirable solutions.  This may be by design since the free products obviously do not generate any revenue for VMWare.

So, I'm thinking of approaching it from this angle.  Instead of installing ESXi as the host OS, instead install a minimum LINUX OS as the host, then install VMWare server for LINUX for the Virtual Machine functionality.  It seems this would make the backup approach a whole lot simpler as I could use the LINUX host OS functionality for backing up both the guest OS and data to whatever media I choose (External USB Hard Drive, Network,etc.)  I have already been using a similar setup at my home for several months, except that my host is Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit.  However, I obviously don't want to go that route for a business environment.

Being still pretty new to VMWare, there's a good chance there are some disadvantages to this approach that some of you more experienced folks could point out.  Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Again, thanks in advance,

Chris Silvester

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7 Replies
lowteck
Enthusiast
Enthusiast

One big dis-advantage that I can see is that you will have to shutdown your VM to back it up.

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csilvest
Contributor
Contributor

I know in the VM Server for Windows product I can take a snapshot while the VM is running - I assume the LINUX version can do the same?  Will this suffice as a backup?  If so, can it be scheduled instead of triggered manually?  If this isn't a sufficient backup, can't I just schedule the VM to shutdown while a backup is performed via the host?

Thanks,

Chris

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lowteck
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Hi Chris,

I only use snapshots as a quick failsafe for anytime I patch/upgrade or make significant application changes on my running vm's.

Snapshots will not save you from hardware failures on your host server.

In my past experiences with vmware server free version, to copy the folder that contains a vm, you need to shut it down, and then use an application or scripting to copy the vm folder off of your vm server and onto  a tape,ext HD, network, etc...

Best of luck,

low

csilvest
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the reply, and I'm sure you're probably right.  Also, to somewhat answer my own question, I realize that if I do go the route of shutting down the guest and performing a backup of the VM files via the host, I won't be able to do any kind of incremental backup, which is also less than desirable.  Do any of the paid backup solutions for VMWare perform incremental backups?  Or does this pretty much have to be done from within the guest?

To extend the idea a little further of using LINUX as the host OS running VMWare server for virtualization, perhaps a solution is to also run SAMBA on the host for making file systems available to the Windows guest, and then incremental backups of the guest data could be performed from the host OS.  To make this work, the Windows VM's would have to be setup so that only a minimum of user and server data is written to it's system partition and everything else is written to seperate data partitions which actually reside on the SAMBA server from the host.

Am I spinning my wheels here, or does this actually seem workable to anyone happening to read this?

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lowteck
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as this is vmware's free product, there really are no incremental back-up apps that I know of.

You could do the offline entire vm folder back-up and then do incremental file backups off the guest OS. (that's what I have done in the past)

The samba /partition solution sounds interesting, but, it seems like a lot of work to try and do incremental back-ups off a free vmware server...

good luck,

low

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Edmod209
Contributor
Contributor

How about using the standard backup software of SBS 2008 to backup on a Virtual USB Drive over the network? Only limitation I can see is that hardware devices like AnywhereUSB only supports 100Mbit over the network making it quite slow but at least you can do your incrementals. Its quite cheap if you don't ind secondhand on eBay. Also to restore an entire image, its a case of recreating a blank virtual machine for the image to be loaded back on. If anyone knows of a network USB that can do 1Gb, let me know

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lowteck
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please award correct or helpful answers .

thanks....

low

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