Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices (Part 3)

Source: Veeam

I’m enjoying this series of blogs! This is a great way to share information about the best practices for the VMware backup experience. This post will now vary slightly from the other two and talk about the backup repository. This was another breakout session at VeeamON 2015 (those who attended were lucky to get the live experience) and will surely be a great one to catch in 2017 in New Orleans. This will be written in mind of Veeam Backup & Replication v9, but can be a starting point to making good changes in your environment.

Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices

Backup Repository General Considerations

There isn’t a single choice that is the best for all situations such as change rates, sizes, expectations, budgets, etc. Don’t underestimate the importance of a performant backup repository, it’s one of the most commonly reported sources of slow backup performance. This will also be an issue on the restore job, so RTOs could be impacted. I’ve written a long time ago on “The Ultimate VM Backup Storage Architecture” with Veeam, and many of those principles apply. Here’s a look at the latest view of the Ultimate VM Backup Storage Architecture:

Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices

There are few key characteristics of this architecture that are important, regardless of the pieces and parts in your environment and source data profiles:

  • There is fast, reliable primary-class storage for the fastest backups and restores (and it has low latency to the source data)
  • You can control the number of restore points on the primary backup storage resource (say 2 or 3 restore points and no synthetic full backups on disk)
  • Must have at least one copy of the backups elsewhere, such as on a deduplication appliance
  • Then selectively put the data on tape, in a DR (disaster recovery) site or in a cloud

Key things to avoid

Based on user experiences and practical implementations, here are a few things to avoid when it comes to backup repositories:

  • Avoid low-end NAS and appliances: If you have one unavoidably, use iSCSI instead of NAS protocols.
  • Generally avoid CIFS and SMB: If it is a share backed by an actual Windows Server, add that instead.
  • Avoid placing backups on VMDKs on VMFS volumes: There are many steps on the data path which can introduce corruption and it requires vSphere to do a recovery (inception).
  • Watch the scalability of Windows Server 2012 deduplication: The official language is that “Files approaching or larger than 1 TB in size” are not supported. Going into the future Windows Server 2016 has significant improvements, so this is a short-term recommendation now.
  • Generally making deduplication appliances the primary backup repository.

Raw disk and backup job considerations

We often get the question on what RAID levels should be used for backup repositories when dedicated storage is used to hold Veeam backups. Generally speaking, the following attributes apply to standard RAID levels:

RAID Level Characteristics
RAID 10 Use whenever you can (2x write penalty, but capacity suffers)
RAID 5 Use as the next economical choice (4x write penalty, but greater risks)
RAID 6 This has the most severe performance overhead (6x write penalty)

There are also a few points on stripe sizing if you can configure this on your RAID volume. Typical I/O for Veeam is 256KB to 512KB, Windows Server 2012 defaults to 64KB, some arrays to 32KB. That’s a lot of wasted I/Os! A stripe of 128KB is recommended. Additionally, use as many drives as possible to avoid expansion at a later time (which divides performance across RAID arrays).

In regards to the file system, NFTS is commonly used. The larger block size doesn’t affect performance but it can help avoid excessive fragmentation; therefore a 64KB block size is recommended. Use the format with /L option for larger file records. There was a 16TB max file size limit before Windows Server 2012 (which increases it to 256 TB). This information applies to v9 and earlier; but watch for updates on Veeam Availability Suite 9.5.

In regards to the job settings, there is always a trade-off between performance and disk space. This can also be amplified by the different types of data in use (high change rate environments for example). The reversed incremental backup job mode carries a 3x I/O cost per block moved; making the forever forward incremental backup mode more attractive.

Keep in mind the concurrent job setting to set a reasonable amount of inbound data to the backup repository as well as the ingest rate setting for backups from SAN-based backups (which can move fast).

Deduplication Appliances!

Backups are a good profile for deduplication, especially when many full backups are on disk. There are significant benefits on lowest cost per TB with global deduplication (but many devices implement it differently). The real pain is the random access performance (of a restore) as deduplication appliances are built for sequential I/O generally speaking. Additionally, getting data into (and out of) a deduplication system generally isn’t as fast as its general purpose counterparts. Lastly, there can be significant upfront cost.

That being said, there still are significant gains to be had. Veeam has three integrated targets for deduplication and they are built right into the user interface:

Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices

This makes a few specific recommendations for leveraging Veeam with deduplication appliances:

  • Leverage the integrations we have with deduplication appliances!
  • Use backup modes without full backup transformations
  • Use Active Full backups vs. Synthetic Full backups if possible (the random reads…)
  • Consider VTL modes
  • Note that parallel processing may impact your deduplication ratios slightly; limit to 1 task instead of disabling parallel processing
  • In backup jobs, use the 16TB+ option for 4MB blocks (new in v9):

Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices

One guiding principle here is to give yourself lab time and a predictable I/O pattern to run these options and recommendations through to see what kind of difference they make in your environment. This is especially relevant if you don’t have one of the vendor specific integrations with Veeam. This is a great opportunity to test the Backup Copy Job retention performance when synthetic full backups are made. Since v9, the ability to do an Active Full option in the Backup Copy Job can help in performance here.

One important thing to make sure is that the dedupe-friendly compression setting is used in backup jobs. This will help performance of the backup job with little trade-off on the deduplicated target. Many people ask if Veeam’s deduplication (in the backup job) should be turned off; and it generally is fine to leave on.

The most significant recommendation with deduplication is to not overdo it however. Don’t get the deduplication ratio super-high, in the end they just take up more CPU and processing time for marginal space savings.

The Scale-out Backup Repository

v9 introduced the Scale-out Backup Repository for Veeam Backup & Replication. It’s a great way to simplify the backup storage and job management, reduce storage hardware spend and improve backup storage performance and reliability. Check out the whitepaper from Luca Dell’Oca on the Scale-out Backup Repository, which was written after v9 went available and some practical feedback was implemented into the recommendations in this whitepaper.

Stay tuned for more posts in this series! Until then, here are some resources you can use to supplement this blog post:

The post Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices (Part 3) appeared first on Veeam Software Official Blog.

Backup repositories: VMware backup best practices (Part 3)

Open Pay: Redefining Financial Flexibility & Unlocking the Growth Potential

Source: Cisco
Co-Authors: Frank Palumbo, SVP, Global Data Center Sales and Kristine A. Snow, SVP, Cisco Capital Digital transformation is no future state. It’s happening now. In fact, according to Gartner there are 125,000 enterprises in the U.S. alone that are now launching digital transformation projects involving companies of all sizes from nimble startups to global conglomerates. […]Open Pay: Redefining Financial Flexibility & Unlocking the Growth Potential

Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire ContainerX

Source: Cisco
I’m excited to share that today Cisco announced its intent to acquire ContainerX, Inc., Cisco’s first acquisition in the rapidly emerging container market. ContainerX is an early stage, privately held company focused on building technology to help enterprises manage, orchestrate and integrate containers across data centers. Many of our customers are starting to use containers […]Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire ContainerX

Why fast virtualized application recovery is key to the hybrid cloud journey

Source: Veeam

Considering that many VMworld attendees are front-line IT system firefighters, a nightmarish scenario could unfold. While roaming the casino halls at some ungodly hour, a critical business system could suddenly crash and burn. How many of these folks are confident in their ability to quickly extinguish the flames through rapid VM recovery capabilities?

It is estimated that businesses lose $16M annually due to application downtime. Between lost revenue, lost productivity, lost business opportunity and lost credibility, the consequences of application service disruptions are enormous.

Perhaps it is no surprise then that in a recent IDC research report, over 80% of 1,200 IT users surveyed, indicated that faster recovery was the top reason for investing in VMware virtualization solutions.

While many industry observers often point to lower costs as a prime business reason for betting the house on virtualized infrastructure, faster recovery, server consolidation and increased agility trumped cost savings by a large margin in IDC’s survey.

Perhaps even more telling is that those IT respondents with a higher degree of confidence in the resiliency and recoverability of their application environment, were likely to be much further down the path of being fully virtualized. And herein lies the key to accelerating the journey to private and hybrid cloud – a key initiative for many businesses.

The last mile of virtualization typically consists of mission critical platforms like order entry systems, business revenue generating applications, messaging systems, etc. These are typically the last hold outs to get converted over from physical to virtualized systems. The conventional thinking is that by dedicating physical (non-shared) resources to a critical application, performance and availability can be better ensured.

The irony is there may be a false sense of security with walling off critical applications into dedicated, silo’d infrastructure. For instance, the CPU and storage resources assigned to an application today may be woefully inadequate for that system tomorrow. Having the ability to quickly and non-disruptively migrate an application, via VMware’s server vMotion feature, to a system with more resources, is a decided advantage over a physical, “lift and shift” environment.

Likewise, if a mission-critical application were to go belly up, there are faster, more efficient and less painstaking ways to recover an application residing on a virtualized machine than one configured on a   dedicated server.

In fact, there are VMware integrated recovery solutions, like Veeam Availability Suite, that can quickly spin up new VMs on premise or in the public cloud, while providing very low recovery point and recovery time objectives (RTPO). And from an IT administrative perspective, it doesn’t have to be a stressful, panic-stricken fire-drill.

In addition, through Veeam’s automated application recovery testing capabilities, IT organizations can demonstrate to their business stakeholders that critical applications, whether physical or virtualized, will continue to meet service levels even in the event of an outage.   

And while the IT team is in Vegas, the last thing you want to do is roll the dice on the ability of your applications to quickly recover following an outage. You want this process to be smooth, fast and predictable.

Perhaps it’s easy to see then that application recovery, or better put, application availability, plays an integral role in any organization’s virtualization strategy. Now if we could only recover as quickly from a Vegas fueled night out on the town.

While at VMworld, please visit Veeam at booth #1731 to learn how you can improve the Availability of your mission-critical applications while simplifying IT operational management. And if you would like a chance to win a free ticket to VMworld Europe in Barcelona, click here.

The post Why fast virtualized application recovery is key to the hybrid cloud journey appeared first on Veeam Software Official Blog.

Why fast virtualized application recovery is key to the hybrid cloud journey

Migrating on-premises SharePoint sites to the cloud (TechNet Radio Session)

Source: Microsoft
TechNet Radio host Yung Chou welcomes David Johnson, Senior Program Manager, to discuss how Microsoft IT migrated more than 185,000 on-premises internal SharePoint sites and portals to the cloud. Learn how Microsoft IT approached its move to the cloud as David shares best practices, tips and tricks, and lessons learned that you can take to your own IT environment.
Migrating on-premises SharePoint sites to the cloud (TechNet Radio Session)

Cloud at Microsoft (SME roundtable June 2016)

Source: Microsoft
IT Showcase brought together subject matter experts from our Cloud at Microsoft course to answer questions about how Microsoft IT designs, develops, implements, monitors, and supports cloud solutions at Microsoft. In this session, they discuss evaluating applications for PaaS or SaaS, monitoring your cloud infrastructure, migrating to Office 365, and using SharePoint Online compliance and records management—and lots more!
Cloud at Microsoft (SME roundtable June 2016)

Fast recovery with NetApp snapshots and Veeam

Source: Veeam

Let’s face it, for an IT administrator, recovery is a big part of your world. Over the years, I’ve seen exhaustion and fatigue on the faces of IT staff struggling to recover their business applications and data after unplanned system disruptions. In the IT arena, ever-increasing demands and expectations are setting the bar higher, and fast recovery is a key to success.

Veeam’s deep integration with NetApp enables businesses to leverage storage snapshots to create application consistent backups to fast SAN/NAS based repositories. As a result, IT administrators avoid the pain, frustration and exhaustion often experienced when in “recovery mode.”

At this point, I think it is important to recognize that fast recovery has a lot to do with backups. Think of good backups as the preparation required of a world-class athlete. It is often said the race is won before it starts. A competitor’s ability, training and confidence all factor into the winner’s success before the gun goes off.  Fast recovery is only as good as your pre-crisis preparation, ability to recover and confidence in the integrity of your backups.

NetApp snapshots orchestration

For Veeam, the starting line is our orchestration of NetApp snapshots. Veeam Backup & Replication sits on top of the FAS storage system, to control and automate application consistent snapshots for local fast recovery point objectives (RPO). By taking backups from storage snapshots, Veeam reduces the impact on the VMware vSphere environment. By directing the backup copy to a secondary storage target, Veeam offloads backup overhead from primary storage where VM’s are running. It is a great way to follow the 3-1-2 rule of three copies of data on two media types and keeping one in a different location.

3-2-1 Rule

Veeam, for example, can orchestrate and schedule these application-aware snapshots to a secondary NetApp FAS array. From there, Veeam backup from SnapMirror and SnapVault leverages a secondary FAS system for backup and reduces the impact on not only the vSphere environment, but also on the primary FAS system. With orchestrating snapshots locally and then replicating them to a secondary FAS system, Veeam delivers backup to a secondary media type. This is a good example of how Veeam can achieve a high return on your SnapMirror and SnapVault investment.

Fast recovery with Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots

Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots allows IT admins to browse into these NetApp snapshots and perform fast granular recovery of files and application items even though the snapshots are in a crash consistent state.

Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam

By avoiding the complexity and spinning up time required to restore full VMs, restoring from snapshots drastically reduces the recovery time and allows IT to move on to the next event. What was a marathon-like effort, is now merely a short sprint back to productivity.

Veeam Explorer for Storage Snapshots can be used to view historic snapshots or snapshots that have not been orchestrated by Veeam but still enable file level recovery options.

Below you can see the view from a snapshot that is created and orchestrated by Veeam.

Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam

You can also see the options available for this virtual machine, which has been snapshotted in an application consistent state.  Veeam provides application, item-level recovery from storage snapshots—all without the use of software agents and from an easy-to-use interface.

Veeam Instant VM Recovery with NetApp

Veeam Instant VM Recovery is another good example of how we work with NetApp storage to overcome the hurdles of recovery. You can immediately restore a VM from secondary storage back to your production server.

Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam

The steps below show the process to run an Instant VM Recovery for a storage snapshot from the Veeam management console. The final step (see the bottom right shot) is for the backup admin to use vSphere tools such as Storage vMotion to migrate from the mounted snapshot to its original datastore.

Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam
Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam

Veeam’s Virtual Lab

Another great way to avoid injury of your production environment in the first place – and thus avoiding the need to recover — is Veeam On-Demand Sandbox for Storage Snapshots. This Veeam feature requires NetApp FlexClone, and again is an excellent added value to your NetApp investment.

FlexClone is a great technology from NetApp that gives IT admins a fully functional snapshot version of their production data with production-quality storage performance. Veeam enables the automation of the entire process, including the creation of the FlexClone snapshot, presentation, provisioning and automates clean-up operations when testing and development is completed.

Fast Recovery with NetApp Snapshots and Veeam

 

This feature can provide a full performance virtual lab without using any further production storage and, as of Veeam v9, can leverage both primary and secondary tier FAS systems. Use it for not only reducing setup time and testing time of new patches and applications, but also for training and development.

 

Without Veeam, the effort needed to recover from service disruptions often leaves you doubled over, out of breath and seeing stars. Especially when a business line manager is screaming at the service desk because mission-critical application SLAs are continually missed.

Learn more about how Veeam delivers Availability for the Always-On Enterprise with efficient and fast backup and recovery with NetApp.

The post Fast recovery with NetApp snapshots and Veeam appeared first on Veeam Software Official Blog.

Fast recovery with NetApp snapshots and Veeam