Wednesday, 24 November 2010

VMWare backup comparison

Looking for a suitable backup program for our use. Our systems are 3 dual socket VMWare ESXi servers with direct attached storeage running a selection of virtual machines. One is a windows 2003 SBS server running exchange and some file shares. We also have a NAS storage box with windows file shares and NFS file shares which other systems backup to.

We purchased an LTO3 tape drive + tapes with backup exec 2010 for small business which works well except that it can not backup the whole windows SBS virtual machine when running inside the virtual machine which was something I explicitly asked for with exchange granular restores when talking to BT Businessdirect sales support. I was hoping it would create a snapshot then backup from the snapshot or something but no such luck.  UPDATE: Currently negotiating with BT Businessdirect to get a refund as we purchased that program based on them saying it would work 100% in exactly this setup and I can't really afford/justify the extra £1k to get the full version of Backup Exec 2010.  So option 1 below has been eliminated.

  1. Full backup exec with agents for exchange etc which I could then install on a seperate server. More expensive and not sure what server I could use... Waiting for prices.
  2. Trilead VM Explorer - Does not seem to support Exchange granular restores. Or Exchange at all on its features page. Does have a completly free version with a few limitations.
  3. Veeam - Looking fairly good. They do a "Veeam Essentials" bundle which tallys closely with the VMWare Essentials bundle - 3 servers with 2 sockets per server etc. For non VMWare virtual machine backups it has the ability to copy files to/from any location which is visible to the server as a network share/local drive/iSCSI drive etc.
    Veeam does not backup to tape - would need a seperate process to do this for offsite backup. Could experiment with replication to offsite ESX hosts but that would need a more expensive licence. Could use something like Backula to go from hdd backup to tape fairly easily or just use old copy of Backup Exec or similar - at this point it is just copying files to tape, no fancy open files or anything to worry about.
  4. vRanger - Another promising possibility, requested quote a few days ago and not heard anything yet.
  5. Arkeia - Possibility, not investigated too much yet. They provide a free version which is limitied to two VM backups etc.

Friday, 5 November 2010

VMWare with Adaptec 29320 and Tandberg LTO3 tape drive

Just installed VMWare 4.1 (and later ESXi 5.0.0 U1) on a server with a new Adaptec 29320 SCSI card and Tandberg HH LTO3 external tape drive and VMWare reports the tape drive as dead. Nothing shows in the devices section under storage controllers but on the paths screen there is a dead path shown. I know the card is good because the same SCSI cart has a Certance LTO2 tape drive connected which is working fine. Whoot. Half hour of slightly concerned googling later and I come across these posts which explain a quick workaround.

Basically use the troubleshooting section of the local console to enable local tech support, logon via Alt-F1 and enter the following command:
# esxcli nmp satp addrule --satp VMW_SATP_LOCAL --driver="aic79xx" --description="Specific rule for Adaptec Card"
NOTE: for ESXi version 5 the above command does not work - the syntax has changed slightly. The following command worked for me though:
# esxcli storage nmp satp rule add --satp VMW_SATP_LOCAL --driver="aic79xx" --description="Specific rule for Adaptec Card"
Reboot server and the tape drive is live and good to assign to a virtual machine.

No idea why this happened for this specific hardware, assume it will be fixed in a future release of VMWare. For some reason the ESXi host does not know which driver to load for the Adaptec SCSI card and the line above forces ESXi to load the correct driver. (UPDATE: Unfortunately not yet fixed in ESXi 4.1U1 or ESXi 5.0.0U1)