VMware Virtual Machine Backup with Avamar Deduplication Solution (Installation How-to #Fromthefield)

Initially, our customer had a huge challenge backing up his virtual environment. He had to treat his VMs as physical machines. Due to the long backup window of “backup to tape,” the customer was only able to a get a full backup on the weekend. As we all know, backup to tape is the cheapest; but with VMware establishing itself as an industry standard, tape can no longer be our primary backup target.

At first, he attempted to backup to a SAN partition mounted to a VM—although this improved his backup window, the customer found a new challenge of moving the data from disk to tape. Unfortunately, moving the data off the SAN partition to tape was still taking too long and he didn’t have enough space to accommodate a second day’s backups. Given that, he opened up to the suggestion of moving toward backup to disk as part of an Avamar deduplication solution.

The installation was very straight forward. Once I initialized the nodes, we started by deploying the Avamar VM image client. The proxy is a self-deploying VM; once we load the OVA, we simply go through this 4 step process.

  1. Networking (IP, DNS, Hostname)
  2. Time zones
  3. Proxy type Windows or Linux (what type of VM you will be backing up)
  4. Register client to main Avamar node

Take note, this is very important: if you will not be installing a genuine certificate for your virtual center, you must modify the mcserver.xml file as follows.

[framed_box bgColor=”#7b0000″ textColor=”#fefefe” rounded=”true”]You have log in as admin

type ssh-agent bash

ssh-add ~admin/.ssh/admin_key

dpnctl stop mcs

<text editor> /usr/local/avamar/var/mc/server_data/prefs/mcserver.xml

Edit this line and set to true as shown in example

<entry key=”ignore_vc_cert” value=”true” />

Once you’ve modified the file type dpnctl, start mcs[/framed_box]

This will allow you to add the virtual center server to Avamar and import clients.  Trust me, if you don’t complete the above importing, the virtual center will fail.

Once we’ve imported the clients and enabled change block tracking, Avamar has a default policy group that includes all of your VM clients. Simply add the schedule and retention of your liking, and your VMs are ready for backups. Utilizing the proxy agent, Avamar will back up the entire virtual machine (.vmx, .nvram and .vmdk files).

The benefit of backing up the server as a Virtual Machine is that it will allow you to restore a server seamlessly, without having to load an OS and an application. We were able to seed the VM to Avamar within 12 hours. The next backup ran for about 15 minutes. Avamar was finding between 99.5 and 100% of common data.

Once we converted all the VMs backups to Avamar, the customer was able to perform full backups of over 25 machines daily. And in order to comply with offsite media, we replicated all of the data on Avamar to a secondary Avamar node, which, after a three day seeding window, would take less than 4 hours to replicate the changed blocks over the WAN.

Leveraging Avamar to backup VMware will increase your productivity, RTO and RPO. And guys, it’s just plain simple to use! DOWN WITH TAPES!!!

[Photo credit to SandiaLabs on Flickr]