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Hot Spots: VMware opens door for next-gen backup apps

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Integration with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB). VCB, new in VMware Infrastructure 3, is VMware's answer to consistent backups without the need to install an agent in each virtual machine. The traditional backup agent resides on a proxy server and communicates with VCB. At a scheduled time dictated by the backup app, the backup agent instructs VCB to initiate a backup. The OS is quiesced and VCB takes a snapshot of the data, which is then copied to the backup proxy server. The backup agent communicates with the traditional backup engine to write the copy to disk or tape.

Using VCB to back up at the virtual machine level provides file-level recovery; eliminates the backup window by offloading the backup process to the proxy server; removes backup traffic from the LAN; doesn't require a backup agent in the virtual machine; and allows for full, incremental and differential strategies. Disadvantages include:

  • Windows-only support (file-level backup and incremental strategies aren't available in non-Windows guest OSes)
  • Needs a Windows-based proxy server (connected to networked storage with access to the LUNs where data is stored)
  • Requires integration scripts or VCB-aware client agents (where integration scripting is hardwired) from the backup vendor to control the multistep VCB process
  • Doesn't support enterprise apps such as Exchange,

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  • Oracle and SQL Server
VCB performs a live backup of virtual machine files, which appear as new files every day. Deduplication reduces the burden on the backup proxy server by eliminating unnecessary workload and data via subfile incremental backup.

Direct backup of .vmdk files. The .vmdk file can be backed up via a backup client agent installed in the VMware service console. This offers the advantage of virtual machine backup and recovery in one step. The disadvantages are:

  • No file-level recovery
  • The virtual machine requires shutdown and restart
  • The virtual machine will be suspended when the .vmdk backup occurs

This was first published in September 2007

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