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Category Archives: Uptime

vSphere Replication Appliance Failure Prevention and Recovery

vSphere Replication is an excellent host-based, per-VM replication solution that is included with vSphere Essentials Plus Kit and higher editions. That’s right – if you have vSphere Essentials Plus or higher, you have vSphere Replication. There are several use cases for vSphere Replication: Migrating VMs from old hardware to new hardware, migrating VMs between data centers, and disaster recovery – with or without vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM) – to name a few. When talking with customers, we tend to cover the features and benefits for starters and move on to how it works – and then what happens when issues such as hardware failure, administrative mistakes, etc. occur.

In this article, we will not discuss all of the details around how it works, but at a high level, changed data for each protected VM is replicated from vSphere hosts at the source location to one or more vSphere Replication virtual appliance(s) at the target location. The vSphere Replication appliance(s) then write this replicated data to vSphere storage at the target location. This often raises questions about what happens if these vSphere Replication appliances go offline or are lost. That is what we will cover in this article.

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Virtual SAN Backup with VDP – New White Paper

Hot off of the press: A new white paper that discusses backing up virtual machines running on VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) using VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP).vsan_vdp_white_paper These are the main topics that are covered:

  • VDP Architectural Overview
  • Virtual SAN Backup using VDP
  • Factors Affecting Backup Performance

The paper details test scenarios, how backup transport modes affect CPU and memory utilization of the VDP virtual appliance, and how the vSphere hosts management network is impacted when the Network Block Device over Secure Sockets Layer (NBDSSL) transport mode is utilized. The paper concludes with a summary of observations, recommendations when deploying the VDP virtual appliance to a Virtual SAN datastore, and some discussion around transport modes and running concurrent backups. A special thank you goes to Weiguo He for compiling this data and writing this paper!

Click here to view/download VMware Virtual SAN Backup Using VMware vSphere Data Protection

@jhuntervmware

Automatic Backup of VMs Migrated by SRM

A question came across my desk a few days ago around being able to automatically back up VMs that have been migrated by vCenter Site Recovery Manager (SRM). After a bit of thought, it seems this is fairly simple to solve. With SRM, I migrate VMs to a resource pool at my recovery site. Why you might ask? This resource pool is configured with shares set to “High”. This has no impact during normal operations, but when I migrate or fail over important workloads, I want to be sure these workloads have priority if there is contention for CPU and memory. However, this also creates a secondary benefit when it comes to backing up migrated VMs…

srm_resource_pool

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vSphere Data Protection Replication Target White Paper

With the release of VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) 5.8, a new type or “identity” of VDP appliance was introduced. It is called VDP Replication Target. When deploying previous versions of VDP, you were presented with the option to deploy VDP, which does not require a license key, or VDP Advanced, which requires a license key. A question commonly asked is “Do I have to deploy and license VDP Advanced at the replication target location even though I do not intend to perform backups there?” With VDP Advanced 5.5, you do have to deploy a VDP Advanced appliance to serve as a replication target, but VMware provides a “zero-CPU” license at no additional charge to enable an appliance to serve as a replication target for VDP Advanced. More details can be found in this blog article. While this was a pretty good workaround, the process for deploying an appliance as a replication target has been improved with the introduction of the VDP Replication Target identity in VDP 5.8. Naturally, you can find more information on the new VDP appliance identity in the VDP Administrator Guide, but Mohan Amarnath and Suraj Vithalkar from EMC have provided an excellent white paper that covers VDP Replication Target in detail including use cases and best practices. Click here to download the VDP Replication Target white paper.

VDPRT_graphic@jhuntervmware

 

Patching the Shellshock Vulnerability in vSphere Replication 5.8

I am sure most of you have heard about the “Shellshock” vulnerability – if not, you can read about it here. Seeing that the vSphere Replication 5.8 virtual appliance is running Linux, a patch is required. This short blog article shows how to fix this issue in vSphere Replication 5.8. To review more details on this security advisory, please see this page.

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vSphere Replication to vCloud Air Disaster Recovery

With the release of vSphere Replication 5.8, it is now possible to replicate virtual machines from a vCenter Server environment to another vCenter Server environment and to vCloud Air Disaster Recovery. Please understand that does not mean you can replicate the same VM to both, but rather you can configure replication for a VM to one destination or the other using the same vSphere Replication 5.8 user interface. Before vSphere Replication 5.8, you could deploy version 5.5 for replication between vCenter Server environments or deploy version 5.6 for replication to vCloud Air Disaster Recovery, but not both.

I have recorded a few short videos – less than two minutes each – to demonstrate using vSphere Replication to replicate virtual machines to both a vCenter Server environment and to vCloud Air Disaster Recovery. These videos do not have audio, but it is easy to understand what is happening in each video thanks to the simple interface vSphere Replication provides us.

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Encrypted Data at Rest with vSphere Data Protection and EMC Data Domain

I recently received an inquiry about whether vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced could send backup data to an EMC Data Domain appliance with encryption enabled. This scenario was easy to set up and test. In my lab, I am using a Data Domain appliance running Data Domain Operating System (DDOS) 5.4 along with VDP Advanced 5.8. First, I verified everything was working properly (before encryption) by running a few backups jobs and performing both image level (VM) restores and application level (database) restores. Then, I enabled encryption on the Data Domain appliance when I was sure there were no VDP backup jobs, integrity checks, etc. running. After encryption was enabled, I again ran backup jobs and performed image and application level restores from restore points created both before and after encryption was enabled. All of these worked fine, as expected.

More blog articles on VDP Advanced with Data Domain

@jhuntervmware

SRM install error: Failed to Clear Inventory Service Registration

If you see this message during an SRM 5.8 upgrade, chances are you are doing what is a moderately rare type of an SRM install that has caused you some problems.

The given scenario that will lead to this situation:

  • You had a previous SRM install
  • You uninstalled SRM but left the old SRM database in place
  • You have installed a new vCenter and inventory service (or simply wiped and refreshed the inventory service database itself)
  • You are installing a new SRM instance
  • You chose to overwrite the SRM database as part of the new install

This was the scenario that brought me to run into the error “failed to clear inventory service registration” at the end of the SRM install.  Retrying does nothing, and the only option is to cancel the install and roll back.

So why is this?

SRM tries to handle inventory service registration intelligently; in this case since it has found an existing database, the assumption is that you have re-installed SRM, but it knows nothing about the vCenter/IS components.  SRM stores its UUID in its database, and then registers to inventory services with that UUID.  If you were to reinstall SRM, the old UUID registered to IS would no longer be valid, so during our current situation it tries to remove the old registered UUID in order to use the new one with IS, the one it is putting into its new database.

In this scenario, what has happened is that when overwriting the SRM database during the install, SRM has tried to clean up the old SRM registration to Inventory Services by removing the UUID found in the old database.  It does this to avoid conflicting SRM registrations in IS (e.g. if you were simply re-installing SRM alone.)

Since, however, you have a new vCenter and/or a new inventory service, that old UUID is no longer present, and the SRM install fails as it cannot find and unregister the UUID from IS that it finds in the old SRM database.

The solution can be one of two:

  1. Retain the old SRM database instead of overwriting it.  This may lead to some cleanup activities you’ll need to do if you purposefully needed to get rid of the old database information (which presumably is why you were overwriting it in the first place!).
  2. Wipe out the SRM database before doing your install and start with a clean slate, instead of overwriting it.  This is probably the easiest, and given that you were going to overwrite it anyway just takes a few moments up front.

This is likely a rare sort of scenario where you’re starting from scratch with everything but the SRM database. Most likely you’ll come across this in a lab/testbed environment where you run through installs and upgrades on a regular basis.

So not a big deal, but hopefully this helps save someone the time that it took me to find it!

 

vSphere Data Protection Linux File Level Restore

Both editions of VMware vSphere Data Protection – VDP and VDP Advanced – feature the ability to perform a file level restore (FLR) with nothing more than a Flash-enabled web browser. There is no need to install additional backup software, an agent, etc. VMware Tools is required, but this is present in nearly all virtual machines (VMs) by default. FLR works for Windows and Linux VMs. After a moment, you may be thinking that using a web browser is no big deal with Windows – most Windows VMs have at least one web browser installed already – however, that is not the case with Linux VMs. So how can we work around that? Let’s dig in…

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Site Recovery Manager 5.8 is now GA – What’s new?

Yesterday VMware announced the GA of Site Recovery Manager 5.8. There are a number of great additions and improvements and I’m going to cover them here briefly.

Full Web Client Integration

SRM-Site-Summary

The most visible change is that SRM 5.8 is fully integrated as a plug-in with the vSphere Web Client. In addition to not having to use two different interfaces to manage your environment improvements were also made to a few workflows making it easier and simpler to map arrays, networks, folders, etc by having SRM handle the reciprocal instead of having to do it manually.

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