FlashRestore and vPower: Lower that RTO

20 09 2010

 

VEEAM and Vizioncore (vRanger) both have a feature in their newest backup products that lets you “instantly” restore a vm, so users can get back to work on the machine right away.  Both technologies spin up a vm from the backup right on your backup media.  You dont have to wait for anything to be copied back across the network.  Sweet! 

http://www.veeam.com/go/vPower?ad=backup

http://vizioncore.com/sites/default/files/Flash%20Restore%20Datasheet.pdf

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Proactive Tip of the Day: Disk Space

17 09 2010

Running out of disk space, especially on your boot drive can really create some problems.  If your organization is not actively monitoring space usage on drives, they should be.  Here is a quick way to run a query using the VMWare Community Powerpack and PowerGUI to be the hero and warn server admins about low space on your vms.

Grab PowerGUI here…

http://www.powergui.org/index.jspa

And grab the powerpack here…

http://www.virtu-al.net/2009/12/18/vesi-powergui-powerpack-v3/

To install the powerpack, go up to file and Powerpack management in PowerGUI.

 

Now keep an eye out for a query called VM Guest Disk Sizes under the Virtual Machines folder of the community PowerPack.

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Click on that query to let it run, and once finished, select the Disk0FreeSpace column to sort by the lowest number first.  Scroll on down to where you start getting numbers.  These numbers are free space on the C: drive in MB.  Personally, I think anything below 1GB is a red flag.  Alert the proper admins to clean up the drives and be the hero!

If you really want to go the extra mile, point the admin to a tool called Spacemonger.  This is a tool that hasn’t been updated in awhile, but still offers a great graphical view of the entire hard drive.  The larger the block, the larger the folder or file.  Grab it here…http://www.sixty-five.cc/download/.  Look for the Free Software tab and scroll down to SpaceMonger v1.4.0  Its a zip file, but the actual program requires no install.  You just run it, select Open, then select the drive you want to look at.  Be careful deleting things!

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Inconsistent VM names and folder names.

17 09 2010

This topic has been covered elsewhere, but from time-to-time I need a reminder.  As you may know, vm file and folder names are derived from the name you use when the vm is first deployed.  A lot of organizations try to match up the computer name with the vm name in virtual center.  The problem comes in if that name ever needs to change.  You can click on the name of the vm in virtual center and change it, but this DOES NOT change the name of the files and folders that make up that vm.  Fortunately, there is an easy way to fix this.  Storage vMotion.  If you perform a Storage vMotion on the vm, the folders and files will be changed to match the current name of the vm.  Make sure you get all the drives when you do the Storage vMotion, and click advanced if you need the drives to go to different datastores.  Once everything is moved to a different datastore, the names will match up again.

How do I know if my existing vm names, folders and files are consistent?  For a large number of vms, the easiest way is to grab PowerGUI and the PowerGUI power pack.

Grab PowerGUI here…

image http://www.powergui.org/index.jspa

And grab the powerpack here…

http://www.virtu-al.net/2009/12/18/vesi-powergui-powerpack-v3/

To install the powerpack, go up to file and Powerpack management in PowerGUI.

There are a ton of useful queries to run on your infrastructure, but keep an eye out for the VMs & Templates with inconsistent folder names query under the Virtual Machines section of the Powerpack.

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vRanger and VEEAM: Scale Issues

16 09 2010

 

I manage the backups for about 400+ vms on a daily basis.  We are using a mix of vRanger and VEEAM to backup our vms both at our main site, and at a couple of smaller branch sites.  We use vRanger for our main site and VEAAM for the branch sites.  As far as features, vRanger and VEEAM have flip-flopped in the past, with VEEAM usually taking the lead and vRanger following suit 6 months to a year later with certain features (CBT support for instance).  The main differentiator that caused us to choose one over the other for the our production site is SCALE.

vRanger is our choice for VM backups in our production site.  As we must fit all 400 of these backups into reasonable backup windows, we are using the limits available for tasks running per datastore, host, and backup Groups.  By using jobs based on backup groups composed of small numbers of hosts, we dont have to constantly edit jobs to exclude new vms, and we have a small number of jobs to deal with.  The limits per host and datastore ensure that we are running multiple vm backup tasks at any given time.

image  This is the key differentiator from VEEAM.  VEEAM only processes vm backup tasks one at a time.  So if I have 30 vms to be backed up in a job, it will plod through them one at a time.  If it hits a particularly large backup, you are stuck waiting.  On the flip side, with vRanger we can often have 6-8 vm backup tasks all running at the same time.  Sure, it will still take some time to backup the larger vms, but it is working on several others at the same time.  I talked with VEEAM at VMWorld about this a couple of weeks ago, and their answer was to setup additional backup servers to run things simultaneously.  Wrong answer.  Who wants to add another box you have to manage and try to schedule all that out?  No thanks.  The other option presented was to make a job for each vm.  HA!  Don’t even get me started on why that is a nightmare.

 

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VEEAM is our choice for the smaller branch sites.  These have a small number of vms (about 10).  They all have CBT enabled.  These 2 factors mitigate the sequential nature of VEEAM, as the backups all finish in the nightly backup window just fine.  The killer features that made us use VEEAM for the branches is the Enterprise Manager and the Virtual appliance mode.  Enterprise Manager lets us see all of our backups and history for multiple installs of VEEAM across our branches from a single web page.  Very nice.  Virtual appliance mode will hot-add the vm disks to the VEEAM virtual server installed at each branch for backup, making them faster.  This is much easier to do than trying to “mount” the vmdk’s on a physical box like VCB used to be.

 

What are your thoughts?  How are you backing up your vm infrastructure both big and small?