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VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced is able to perform true application-consistent backup and recovery of tier-1 applications – specifically, Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint. This functionality is enabled by the VDP Advanced application agents for these applications. With these agents, administrators can back up and restore individual databases, enable multiple backup streams, truncate database logs, and restore individual Exchange mailboxes. Up until now, these agents were only supported for applications running in virtual machines. I am happy to report that it is now possible to offer the same level of data protection for these applications running on PHYSICAL servers! I repeat – VDP Advanced can now backup and restore SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint running on physical servers. Keep reading for more details…

The process for installing the agents, managing backups, and performing restores is the same for virtual and physical machines. During application agent installation, the fully qualified domain name of the VDP Advanced virtual appliance is entered, which registers the agent with that VDP Advanced appliance. The agent installs a “Backup Agent” Windows service to facilitate the application database backup and recovery of SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint.

The Exchange agent supports restoring individual mailboxes. Make sure the Exchange GLR option is enabled when installing the agent to enable this functionality. The Exchange agent also requires the creation of an Exchange user account. The agent installation process streamlines the creation of the account and assigns the necessary permissions through group membership.

exch_user_acct

Details on what groups the account is added to can be found in the VDP Advanced Administrator Guide.

Once an application agent is installed, backup jobs can be created using the VDP plugin in the vSphere Web Client. When creating an application backup job, the first step is choosing whether to backup up all of the application databases (“Full Server”) or individual databases (“Selected Databases”). When using the “Selected databases” option, you choose specific databases to back up.

select_db

As mentioned earlier, using the VDP Advanced application agents provides additional options for performing backups. The screen shot below shows backup options for SQL Server.

sql_backup_options

When restoring databases or mailboxes with these agents, there are several options available. One option is to restore to another location. For example, it is possible to restore a SQL Server database on a virtual machine that was originally backed up from SQL Server running on a physical machine.

You may be wondering how backup of an application on a physical server is licensed. One VDP Advanced license per physical server operating system instance is required. Here is an example scenario:

  • A vSphere cluster with four 2-CPU hosts.
  • 2 physical Windows servers – one running Exchange, the other running SQL Server
  • The vSphere cluster, Exchange, and SQL Server will all be protected by VDP Advanced

This scenario would require a total of 10 VDP Advanced licenses:

  • Eight licenses for the vSphere cluster (four hosts x two CPUs (sockets) each)
  • Two licenses for the physical machines (one license for each OS instance)

Note that protecting applications running in virtual machines is covered by the VDP Advanced licenses assigned to the vSphere hosts on which these virtual machines are running. Additional (per operating system instance) VDP Advanced licenses are not required for protecting applications running in virtual machines.

To recap it is now possible to backup SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint application databases with VDP Advanced regardless of whether they are running on virtual machines or physical machines. One thing I forgot to mention is the agents include client-side deduplication. This typically reduces the amount of backup traffic that is sent across the network from the source to the VDP Advanced virtual appliance. Hopefully, most (all) of you are running these applications in virtual machines, but for those still on physical machines, VDP Advanced can now protect that precious data, as well.

@jhuntervmware