What is the best tool to backup your virtual environment?


In today’s business, we use big environments for all types of activities. Whether it is for holding data, applications and services or simply to increase our productivity, we rely on our technology to store the information. Thus, in order to avoid some disaster or data loss, we need to work with backup solutions designed to keep your data and application intact in case of some crash. Likewise, when we are talking about virtual environments where we have a lot of resources working together to provide a big solution, it can be worse than physical servers grouped considering the size and criticality.

Regarding virtual environments specifically created using VMware technology I can list several good solutions to be used, like:

  • VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB),  VMware Data Recovery (VDR),  vSphere Data Protection (VDP) and VMware vSphere 5.1 – Replication Protection
  • Veeam Backup and Replication
  • Quest (Vizioncore) vRanger Pro
  • Trilead VM Explorer
  • PHD Virtual esXpress
  • vBackup
  • IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments – TSM Proxy (TSM4VE)

Depending on the version and size of VMware vSphere used in your environment, there would be differences in which tool would be the best approach. Let’s assume that for an environment built using the last version, vSphere 5.1.For vSphere 5.1, we can use vSphere Data Protection (VDP).

vSphere Data Protection (VDP) is replacing VDR. VMware has been actively working on improving data protection and disaster recovery with enhanced backup and replication solutions. This led VMware to introduce a new, more robust product in the form of VDP. It is an entirely new VMware product co-developed by VMware and EMC. It was designed specifically to be integrated with vSphere and packaged with vSphere 5.1 (Essentials Plus and above).  In addition, VDR is not supported by vSphere 5.1 and the way in how to migrate older data used in vDR to VDP is a mystery.

About VMware vSphere 5.1 – Replication Protection is an additional feature provided in vSphere 5.1 which can be used to eliminate third-party replication costs and create a more flexible disaster recovery plan using built-in vSphere Replication. It replicates powered-on virtual machines over the network from one vSphere host to another without needing storage array-based native replication. Also, it works changing blocks in the virtual machine disk(s) for a running virtual machine at a primary site are sent to a secondary site, where they are applied to the virtual machine disks for the offline (protection) copy of the virtual machine.

On the other hand, we have an effective IBM tool more that serves as a solid alternative to VMware’s backup solutions; mainly, talking about working with external devices like tape.

Tivoli Storage Manager’s off-host support of VMware virtual machine file level and full VM data provides simpler installation and configuration, and it uses automation built into TSM.  Monitoring is easily done from TSM server.  The proxy becomes a single point of troubleshooting backup related issues. The proxy solution should provide better performance for the protected virtual machines.  Using a virtual machine as the proxy removes the need for a physical host to act as the proxy. The proxy will be setup as a central point of backups for each customer environment. This takes the backup I/O and CPU consumption away from protected virtual machines.  The centralized proxy solution is an easily manageable backup solution, automating on-line snapshots of virtual machine disks and storing the data to TSM.

Detailed instructions for installing and configuring the TSM Backup Proxy can be found here: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/tsminfo/v6r2/index.jsp?topic=/com.ibm.itsm.client.doc/t_bac_usingvcb.html

Instructions on how to use the backup VM command can be found here: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/tsminfo/v6r2/index.jsp?topic=/com.ibm.itsm.client.doc/r_cmd_bkupvm.html

Instructions on how to schedule file-level backups can be found here: http://publib.boulder.ibm.com/infocenter/tsminfo/v6r2/index.jsp?topic=/com.ibm.itsm.client.doc/t_bac_usingvcb.html

By gathering more information about tools to be used in your backup solution, you can decide and choose the best approach according to your environment, size, investment, support, risk, importance and so on. Just make sure to ensure that your data is safe, protected in case of crash.

Comments: 3
Diego Rosa Castilho

About Diego Rosa Castilho

Diego has been working as a senior project resource on cloud projects since 2009. He has built many environments from scratch using VMware technology. Diego is a VMware certified professional (VCP).
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3 Responses to What is the best tool to backup your virtual environment?

  1. If I were to make a full system backup of a virtual machine in VMware, could I then restore that backup to a main system (non-virtual machine)?

    • Franz Liebinger says:

      To answer the question you would need to be a little more specific, as there are some considerations in making a virtual to physical migration (v2p).
      For a quick overview of p2v migrations from vmware you can check http://www.vmware.com/support/v2p/
      Overall, depending on the application you used to make the backup, you may have different options to recover the image into a physical system.

  2. Flavio Angelino says:

    Hey Diego, nice and useful post. Thanks!

Comments are closed.