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By David Hill

Today VMware vCloud Hybrid Service launched the next version of Data Protection, introducing significant new features to support our customers’ stringent data protection requirements.  Data Protection is an agentless, policy-driven, self-service backup of virtual workloads running on vCloud Hybrid Service.

Overview

Having a self-service backup feature provides users with the ability to fully embrace the public cloud and deploy critical applications without the worry of data loss.  Data Protection now has full self-service capability with the following features:

  • Backup scheduling
  • Defined retention periods
  • Self-service vApp registration
  • Ad-hoc backups
  • In-place restores
  • Out-of-place restores
  • Full backup and restore activity reporting
  • At-a-glance admin dashboard view
  • Encryption of data at rest

These features give the user control of what and when they backup their workloads within their Dedicated or Virtual Private Cloud instance.  It provides reassurance that their data is safely backed up, and can be recovered whenever needed in the event of data loss or corruption.

Data Protection can be enabled at a granular Virtual Data Center level, giving even greater control over what is backed up.

There are two options for enabling Data Protection: a user can select whether to enable backups for the whole Virtual Data Center, backing up all virtual machines with a defined policy for all, or enable “Self-Service”, which allows each vApp to be selected for backup and an individual policy set for each one.

How it works

Data Protection leverages snapshots to take the image level backup of virtual machines.  When a backup is initiated, a snapshot is taken of that virtual machine.  Once the snapshot is taken it is then stored on the Data Protection storage for the duration of the retention period assigned in the policy.

Note: All snapshots are quiesced to guarantee crash consistency. 

Dashboard

Let’s take a look at the Data Protection Dashboard in the vCloud Hybrid Service console.  From within the Dashboard there are 4 key areas to note at the top half of the screen.

  • Number of Virtual Data Centers Protected
  • Number of vApps protected
  • Total amount of storage consumed for backups
  • Number of deleted vApps

1)   VDCs Protected

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From within the “VDCs Protected” view, you can see which Virtual Data Centers have been enabled, and whether self-service or a fully automated state has been activated.

2)   vAPPs Protected

The next area tracks individual vApps that are being protected.  Within this view, we can see the following information.

  • vApp name
  • Virtual Machine names
  • Virtual Data Center
  • Data Protection status
  • Policy assignment, with start and end times and retention period
  • Available Restore Points
  • Storage consumed

This view gives the user an in-depth look to understand the state of each individual backup and virtual machine.

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By selecting “Available Restore Points” on a particular protected vApp, a window will show the date and time of each snapshot that has been taken.  This is the point in time from which we can restore our virtual machine.  To restore a virtual machine, we have two options:

A. Restore as New vApp or

B. Restore vApp in-place (overwrite the current existing vApp).

The user can select the restore point, and choose the option that best fits their need.

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3)   Storage Used

Another view option from the dashboard is on storage consumption. It allows the user to understand how much storage they have used for their backups to date.  This storage is separate from the storage that the virtual machines are currently running on.  This is dedicated backup storage that can only be used for retaining backup copies.

There are four key areas within the storage tab to note:

  • Current Storage Utilization
  • 30 Day Consumption Trend
  • Top 10 vAPPs
  • Top 10 Virtual Data Centers
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This storage view allows you to plan the capacity usage of your backup storage.  For example, you can see in the screenshot, that the 30-day consumption had a dramatic jump in capacity usage.  This occurred when Data Protection was enabled on a Virtual Data Center with 15 virtual machines running in it.  After that, the increases are minimal as the backups being performed are consistent nightly backups.  This provides great insight into how much storage you may need in the future.

1)   Deleted vApps

Finally, the “Deleted vAPPs” view shows the vApps that have been deleted and are only available for restore as a new vApp.  You have the same options as before, with the exception you can only restore to a new vApp.

5 When you select the restore points, you will see that “Restore as a New vApp” is the only option available.

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Summary

This new release of Data Protection offers robust self-service capabilities to the customer, and ultimately puts control of their public cloud backups in their hands.  With significant additions like encryption, customized backup scheduling and self-service capabilities this release of Data Protection offers users greater peace of mind that their workloads are protected in the event of accidental data loss or corruption.

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David Hill is currently a Senior Technical Marketing Architect in the Hybrid Cloud Business Unit. David has been a self-employed IT Consultant and Architect for around 15 years, working on projects for large consultancies and financial institutions. Dave blogs at his personal blog, Virtual-Blog.com, where he hopes to provide readers with an informative reference site when designing/deploying or troubleshooting virtualisation and cloud technologies.