Backup Strategies with Virtual Machines in VMware using Veeam
Posted on January 24, 2011
A recent tweet from @win2ksrv and then retweeted by @veeam reminded me that I was going to write about the most recent backup strategy that I’d put in place using Dell EqualLogic SANs, VMware and of course, veeam, it went like this:
What is everyone’s Veeam backup strategy? What do you backup to & how do you get it offsite? Where do you place Veeam itself?
The basic setup looks like this:
The Production site has a Dell EqualLogic array and a local NAS box (that’s the black thing), the backup site which is connected via a 25mbps internet-based VPN simply has a larger NAS box (it deals with multiple sites). VMware has been used to create all the file server disks (they are .vmdks) and veeam is installed in another virtual machine using appliance mode to access the SAN.
There are essentially two main risks that we want to mitigate against here:
- Accidental deletion / corruption of files
- Complete site wipeout (i.e. full blown disaster)
To deal with these risks there are three separate stages of backup in place:
1: EqualLogic Snapshots
Plain and simple, as you’d expect, the SAN takes snapshots once every three hours for about 8 days, this is the primary way of restoring individual files with granularity over the times required.
2: Local veeam Backups
Next, daily (well, nightly) veeam backups of the VMWare machines and their disks are taken – these are stored on the local NAS box for about 14 days. Veeam is configured to do a full backup every other Monday night.
3: Offsite veeam Backups
Then, once a week, a backup is taken offsite over the 25mb internet line. I won’t lie, the first time I did this it ran for 40 hours (which is what I expected for the amount of data in question), but veeam seems good at compressing data and in the advanced options you can specify what sort of storage you are backing up to (LAN/WAN etc) and veeam adjusts accordingly. I’m utilising the “synthetic full” features of veeam to perform a “full” backup once every month without clogging up the link for another 40 hours and so far things are going well!
But Steve, what are the NAS boxes? How much data?!
- the smaller, local, NAS boxes are Iomega StorCenter Pro NAS ix4-200r, they offer up about 5TB of storage once RAID’ed and have a single NIC – to be honest, I’m pretty unimpressed with them in terms of reliability, they seem to require a reboot every now if you use them “too much”, but since I’ve ONLY used them in the setup described above they’ve been okay. Update: don’t buy these if you have large backup files!
- the large, central NAS box is an Iomega StorCenter ix12 – I’ve added some extra disks to it so at the moment it’s offering up 11TB RAID’ed – has room for 4 more disks – this thing has 4 NICs and has been CONSIDERABLY more reliable than the smaller nas boxes, but it is more pricey.
- the backup consists of 12 virtual machines, all with local hard drives ranging from 10-40GB, the file servers are the same but each have 3 x 256GB file server shares on them, making the initial 40-hour offsite backup about 2TB in size in total.