From the Trenches

Got VCB? Time to Switch to VDR!

Today we have another post from Arun Pandey, a Tech Support Engineer in Bangalore, India. Today’s topic revolves around VMware’s announcement to end support for VMware Consolidated Backup and what Arun recommends you do about it.

 

Though VDR has been there for more than a year, I still see threads in our Community Forums where customers want to use VCB and seem unaware about its end of availability.  Hopefully this blog post will be helpful for you in planning your backup strategy as there are a few competitors (Veem, VizionCore, ShadowProtect, and more) in this space.

If you are using VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) for your virtual machine backups, here is an important update for you.

“New major or minor versions of the vSphere platform beyond vSphere 4.1 will not be supported with VCB.” For more information, please see VMware vSphere 4.1 Release Notes—ESX Edition

I have been working with VCB for quite a long time, but have always had the following “Wish List” and was hoping that these requirements could be added in the backup software that I would use for my Virtual Infrastructure:

  • Eliminate the need to have a Windows physical/virtual machine which would act as a proxy for the backup.
  • Though I am not opposed to using CLI with VCB, a GUI interface with more options (creating backup jobs, selecting data and time, virtual machines) would be great alternative.
  • File Level backups for Linux virtual machines.

VMware offers a wide range of products to manage your Virtual infrastructure; VMware Data Recovery (VDR) is one of the applications from the VMware arena that can be used as a backup solution for your entire Virtual Infrastructure.

VDR is a part of these editions:

  • vSphere Essentials Plus
  • vSphere Advanced
  • vSphere Enterprise
  • vSphere Enterprise plus

VDR is available as a Virtual Appliance, which can be downloaded and imported; once the appliance is imported and powered on, it can be configured in a few easy steps as follows:

1. Add Destination

2. Create a Backup Job

(i) Select the Virtual Machines to be backed up

 

(ii) Select the Destination where you want to save the image. If you have multiple options, you can sort them based on how critical the virtual machines are:

(iii) Select the backup window:

Isn’t VDR easy to configure and use compared to VCB? I am now spared from having to use the “automount” and “vcbMounter” commands to configure and backup the virtual machines. Nice!

More options to choose the Destination

The destination to save the backups can be configured easily because VDR provides Disk to Disk backup, where you may choose from a wide range of options (DAS, iSCSI, FC, CIFS shared as target directly to the appliance, VMDK on NFS). This is an advantage, because in VCB the only option was to use the volumes presented to the backup proxy server.

Ease of manageability with multiple VDR appliances

Using VDR 1.2, you can now manage multiple instances of VDR appliances. I use one appliance configured for Production and other for Test environments.

Leveraging the Deduplication functionality

VDR uses data deduplication to store virtual machine data in the dedupe store. Same files in multiple images get stored only once. For example, if 30 virtual machines run the same copy of Windows 2003, without deduplication, the base OS would be stored 30 times. However, with deduplication only a single copy of the OS data is stored.

Just imagine the amount of space you would save when using VDR as compared to VCB!

Using Changed Block Tracking in VDR

Using Changed Block Tracking (CBT), VDR can identify the blocks that have changed since the last backup and backs up only those blocks that have changed. This reduces the amount of data to be checked and transferred. This is a new feature in VDR and was not available in VCB.

Hot-Add feature

The Hot-Add mechanism on the VDR appliance allows the appliance to attach a VMDK directly from the target virtual machine to the VDR appliance. This mechanism does not need a helper VM like the VCB hot-add mechanism and decreases the backup time to a great extent because it eliminates the need to copy over the network. For more details on this, see our Knowledge Base article VMware Data Recovery 1.0 and Essentials Plus licensing (1012295).

Backup and Restore

VDR supports incremental, differential, and full virtual machine image backup options for Windows and Linux Guests. The first backup is always a full backup and the subsequent backups can either be incremental or differential.

Fast Image and File level restores are much simpler and faster in VDR when compared VCB. To restore virtual machine backups using VCB, I would have to rely on VMware Standalone Converter or use the not-so-user friendly vcbRestore command.

NOTE: The faster you restore the backup, the less the downtime and more $$$ you save

To do a Image Level Restore:

(i)Select the Restore Point

You have an option to Rename the virtual machine and select the Datastore when you restore the virtual machine image.

VDR also provides an option to do an easy file level restore option for Windows and Linux Guests for this and many more information about VDR, please see the VMware Data Recovery Documentation.

I hope this short introduction to VMware VDR gives you some insight into its clear advantages over VCB. I for one, am pretty excited about this evolution in our backup solution.

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