NetBackup 7 Configuration for VMware vStorage Backups

This lesson will describe how to configure NetBackup to perform VMware vStorage method backups. To use this feature, your environment will need to consist of NetBackup v7.x and VMware ESX 3.5.2 or higher, or VMware vSphere 4.x or higher.

NetBackup for VMware – Single File Restore

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NetBackup 6.5.1 introduced an innovative single file restore technology that preserved fast and easy virtual machine restores while maintaining back end storage efficiency. NetBackup 7.0 builds on the patent pending Granular File Restore technology  and provides significant advantages that no competitor can match including:
– Write to any form of backup destination including disk, tape, VTL or deduplication target.
– Instantly search for and restore any individual file. No need for time consuming entire virtual machine restore to disk.

Present SAN Volumes to the NetBackup Windows Media Server (Backup Host)

In order for NetBackup to use the VMware vStorage method of snapshotting the VMDK files and using that snapshot to backup the virtual machines, the SAN volumes that contain the virtual machines must be presented (or shared) with the NetBackup Windows Media Server.

Before presenting these volumes to the Windows server, you must instruct Windows to not automount disks, as this could potentially cause issues with the volumes that contain your virtual machines. To make this change on Windows, please follow the below steps:
1) Open up a command prompt (choose to "Run as Administrator" on Windows 2008/R2 hosts).
2) Type in: diskpart
This will start the diskpart command line utility.
3) Type in: automount disable
This will tell Windows to disable the automatic mounting of new volumes/disks.
4) Type in: automount scrub
This will tell Windows to "forget" any previous automatic mounts that it has created.
5) Type in: exit
This will exit diskpart.

You can now present the volumes that contain your virtual machines from your SAN to your NetBackup Windows Media Server and then proceed with the following NetBackup configuration.

Configuring NetBackup for VMware vStorage Backups

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To configure NetBackup to perform VMware vStorage method backups, go into the Master Server properties (by right clicking on the Master server under Host Properties) and then select the "VMware Backup Hosts" section (1). Click on the "Add" button (2) to add the NetBackup Media Server that will be performing the VMware backups.

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Enter the name of the NetBackup Media Server that you will use to perform the VMware vStorage method backups.

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Now that the VMware Backup Host is added, choose the "Ok" button to proceed.

Adding the Virtual Machine Server Credentials

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Next, we will need to add the login credentials for the VMware environment to NetBackup, so that it can log into the VMware environment, get a list of virtual machines and gather the necessary information so that it can back up the virtual machines.
Expand the "Media and Device Management" section, expand "Credentials" and then choose "Virtual Machine Servers".

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Right click on "Virtual Machine Servers" and choose the "New" option.

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Type in the name of your VMware vCenter server and press the "Ok" button. (You coud also type in the name of each ESX/vSphere server however I typically just use the vCenter Server as it’s easier in the long run).

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Choose what type of server you entered in the previous step. If you entered your VMware vCenter Server (aka VMwareVirtual Center) then choose that option from the dropdown box (1).

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Verify that "VMware Virtual Center Server" is selected in the first dropdown box (1). Then, type in the Windows username that you want NetBackup to use in order to connect to the VMware Virtual Center Server (2). Type in that user’s password as well as the verification of the password (3). You can choose to leave the "Validate Credentials" checkmark box selected (4) unless you still need to do something with the permissions for the username you typed in, which if that is the case, then I’d deselect this option. Then to proceed, select the "Ok" button (5).

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Now you will see your VMware Virtual Center Server added, as shown in the above screenshot.

Creating a VMware vStorage Backup Policy

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To create a VMware vStorage type of backup policy, you will need to use the "snapshot backup policy" within NetBackup. Choose your Master Server as shown in the above screenshot and then choose the "Create a Snapshot Backup Policy" wizard listed on the right hand side of the screen.

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At the welcome screen, click on the "Next" button to continue.

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Next, choose your Policy Name (1). In our example, we chose "Virtual_Machines" as the policy name. Next, select the "VMware" Virtual Machine Type of backup as well as the VMware Backup Host that we setup earlier in this lesson (2). Then click on the "Next" button to continue.

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The next screen will show the different backup options while performing a VMware type of backup. Typically, most customers will want to perform the "Full virtual machine using Windows Flashbackup" method of backing up their virtual machines. You will probably also want to select the "Allow Individual file restore" for the backup. This policy will perform "vmdk" level backups of your virtual machines and by having the "allow individual file restore" option selected, this will open and scan the "vmdk" while it’s being backed up. NetBackup does this through the vStorage API for VMware as well as Symantec’s Granular Restore Technology (GRT). This allows you have to a "single pass" backup of the "vmdk", while providing you both full virtual machine level restores as well as individual file level restores, all from the same backup.
Click on the "Next" button to continue.

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This screen contains the options for the VMware vStorage backup. Typically, not many of the options will need to be changed.
For the "Client Name Selection", if you choose "VM hostname", it will reference the virtual machine as it’s DNS hostname.
For the "Transfer Type" setting, you will need to choose "Try SAN then nbd". I have found this is generally the best selection as it will try to use the SAN connection to mount and transfer the data from the VMware based snapshot (thus the SAN method type) and if for some reason it cannot use the SAN to perform that feature, then it will try and move the data over the network connection (thus the nbd method type). If you select just the "san" option, if something doesn’t mount right from the SAN or if the SAN connection gets lost on your backup server, then it will fail the backup. I use the "Try SAN then nbd" to make sure the backup is attempted the best and most possible ways in order to get a good backup.

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Here’s an overview of both of the transport methods, as discussed in the previous step and the data path diffferences between the two.

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Here’s a best practice setting to make sure you select "Remove NBU" under the "Existing snapshot handling" area. This will provide greater chances of your backup succeeding and not failing with a status 156 (snapshot error).

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For the best deduplication rates, make sure you select "VM Mapping Enabled" under the "Virtual Machine Backup" setting.

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Once you’ve selected the options you would like to use, choose the "Next" button.

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Next, you will need to add virtual machines that you would like to have backed up. Click on the "Add" button to browse for your virtual machines.

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Choose the "Browse and select Virtual Machines" (1) radio button which will then populate the bottom section. This is basically telling NetBackup to go out to vCenter and gather all of the information regarding your hosts and virtual machines (2). You can go through and select entire hosts or just the virtual machines you woud like to backup (3). Once you’ve picked the virtual machines that you want to backup, click on the "Ok" button (4) to continue.

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Sometimes you will get the above screenshot when adding virtual machines. Typically it is nothing to worry about however you might want to go into VMware vCenter for the listed virtual machines and verify that they do not already have a snapshot allocated to them, as I’ve seen where this will cause this message to be shown. You can also proceed even if you do get this message.

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Now the Virtual Machines that you selected will be shown in the list. To continue, click on the "Next" button.

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Under the "Backup Selections" area, it is recommended that you keep the default setting of "ALL_LOCAL_DRIVES". This tells NetBackup to backup all of the virtual disks associated with the virtual machine, which would be required to restore the entire virtual machine.

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Using the VMware vStorage method of backups, you can perform "full" backups on the virtual machines as well as "Differential" or "Cumulative" backups. For the different between the two, please see the section entitled Introduction to Symantec NetBackup 7 located at the beginning of this guide.
Choose the type of incremental backups that you would like performed and select the "Next" button.

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Now choose both the frequency and retention for both the full and incremental backups. You’re freqency and retention (how long you keep the backup) will depend on what your requirements are.

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Now, choose the Start Window. This is a time based window that defines when your backups can start. As long as the backup started during the start window, they can continue to run outside of the window (eg: if the backups take that long or if there was some kind of problem that delayed the backups from running).

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At the summary screen, click on the "Finish" button to continue.

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Now a process will be started that will go and perform a verification on the configuration. This might take awhile so be patient. However you can perform other actions in the NetBackup Administration Console during this time.

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Sometimes you will get the above screenshot when adding virtual machines. Typically it is nothing to worry about however you might want to go into VMware vCenter for the listed virtual machines and verify that they do not already have a snapshot allocated to them, as I’ve seen where this will cause this message to be shown. You can also proceed even if you do get this message.

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Now for the policy to run according to the configuration that you specified, you may have to right click on the newly created policy and choose "Activate".

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Also verify that the policy is pointing to the correct Storage Unit (eg: a Disk based storage unit), since you used the wizard to make the policy, it will normally select "Any Available", which is usually not want you want selected.

Wait for Backups or Run Manually

Now that the policy is created and scheduled, you can wait for backups to run based on the start window that you specified, or you can perform a manual backup of the policy.

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