Lately various backup vendors announced support for backing up virtual machines running in a vCloud Director environment. Also some announcements were made about backing up your virtual machines to cloud based storage like Amazon S3.
In this article I will discuss some challenges that come when backing up virtual machines in a vCloud scenario. It will also show where backup vendors like Veeam, Commvault and Symantec are working on and/or already have available in the cloud space.
vCloud backup versus vSphere backup
You might think what is so different in backing up virtual machines in a virtualized environment compared to backing up virtual machines in a vCloud Director based environment?
In case you doing guest OS level backups, the difference is not that big. Things are getting interesting when you want to do a backup of your virtual machine data from the virtualization/cloud layer. There are serveral important differences between backing up virtual machines in a virtualization versus vCloud scenario:
Ownership of the virtualization layer/cloud
Depending on the cloud scenario (private, public, hybrid) the question is who the owner is of the virtualization/cloud layer.
In case of a virtualized environment your both the user and administrator of vSphere and thus you can connect your backup solution to the virtualization layer without any problem.
When you’re using public cloud (leveraging vCloud Director in the case of VMware) and you’re just a tenant in the cloud, you’re not the owner of the cloud…and certainly not owner of the virtualization layer. This means you cannot connect a backup solution to the virtualization layer, neither to the cloud layer: you have to look for a different approach.
Note: In case of a private cloud scenario you can be the owner of both the cloud and virtualization layer. In this case you can connect you’re backup solution to both layers.
Although vCD vApp/virtual machines seem to be “normal” vSphere virtual machines in the end, vCD virtual machines do have some additional properties.
When backing up vCD virtual machines you should not only backup the virtual machine itself, but also the vCD properties including vApp definition, vApp properties (e.g. startup order), the used storage profile/organization vDC and information about to which tenant the virtual machine belongs.
A vCD enabled backup solution should be aware of all these properties. Just backing up the virtual machine from the vSphere layer is not sufficient in this case. You will miss some information when restoring virtual machines to the cloud.
Self Service Backup
One of the key advantages of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) is self service provisioning. So…what about a self service backup?
Self service backup means there’s a centralized/shared backup solution which enables cloud users to create their own backup schedules and execute their own backup & restore actions through a self service portal for the vms running in their organization vDC. Of course things are depending on the cloud scenario (private, public, hybrid), but self service backup is certainly an option to consider.
At this point I would certainly advise you to read this article by Massimo Re Ferrè, who is explaining more about the challenges of backing up consumer workloads in a vCloud environment. Continue this article to learn more about what backup vendors are offering right now in the cloud space.
Veeam Backup & Replication v7 is vCloud Director aware
During VMware PEX 2013 Veeam announced support for vCloud Director based workloads. Using the vCloud Director API, Veeam will display the vCloud Director infrastructure directly in Veeam Backup & Replication, backup all vApp metadata and attributes, restore vApps and VMs directly to vCloud Director, and support restore of fast-provisioned VMs. You can backup entire vApps or indivual virtual machines. Veeam also supports granular recovery for these virutal machines: restore of both individual files or exchange items.
Veeam is not offering a self service portal at this moment, so the solution is more suitable for a private cloud scenario. There’s a video online explaining vCD support or just read the full press release.
Backups of vCloud Director virtual machines will be available in version 7 of Veeam Backup & Replication which will be launched by the end of March.
Veeam is also offering support to backup both VMware & Hyper-V virtual machines to cloud based storage like Amazon, Azure, Rack Space and 14 other offerings. Veeam Backup & Replication Cloud Edition is currently available, more information on the Veeam website.
Commvault Simpana 10
With the launch of Simpana 10, Commvault also supports backup of vCloud Director based virtual machines. The advanced policy-based approach to data management in Simpana 10 ensures fine-grained control of resource pools to support multi-tenant deployments.
Simpana 10 is offering a multi-tenant web portal for restoring virtual machines which is pretty cool:
“Users have direct access to the CommVault Simpana environment via a secure HTTPS web portal to perform data management tasks. Users can access existing data management policies and schedules. User can securely access data for which they have the required permissions. In addition, admins can create a self-service catalog that gives users the ability to select their own service level and scheduling agreements.”
On top of this Simpana 10 also offers reporting and chargeback functionality, which is of great value a multi-tenant deployment.s Full details are available in this whitepaper which is worth a read.
Symantec Netbackup 188.8.131.52
Symantec Netbackup is offering very limited support for backing up vCloud Director virtual machines:
“NetBackup 7.x can protect virtual machines that are provisioned by vCloud Director (vCD). At present, NetBackup is not directly integrated with vCloud Director, but NetBackup can back up and recover vCloud virtual machines within vSphere.”
This is not really vCD support but just backing up the virtual machine from the vSphere layer. Restoring a vCD virtual machine requires a lot of manual labor: first restore the virtual machine to vSphere, after that import the virtual machine to the vCD environment. It looks Netbackup is currently not backing up the vCD properties of the virtual machine.
This concludes this article, I hope the article gave you some insights on backing up vCD workloads. In one of my next articles I will do some additional investigation on the vCD backup options offered by Commvault and Veeam. So stay tuned!