Tag Archive: dedupe


 

If you are at a virtualisation conference and talking about backup technologies with someone in a green shirt , then there is a 50% chance you are having a conversation with the PHD Backup team. The product ,PHD Virtual Backup, which grew out of the innovative esXpress Backup product has recently hit version 5.1 promises to deliver a reliable , self contained backup solution that makes exceptionally good use of available disk space.

The approach that PHDVB takes differs from its competitors in that it deploys as a ready to run virtual appliance rather than an application. This means that you don’t have to invest in any additional hardware to maintain your backup platform , though you should plan for a little additional overhead to your Virtual Infrastructure to allow for the PHD Virtual Appliances to run.

I was able to get hold of some trial keys for the software and have managed to give it a bit of an extended tyre kicking session – I’d have liked to try and run it against a larger environment than my PoC lab , but didn’t have anything available at the time , though I’m told they can scale up to larger environments , the majority of their client base is SME – (note I suspect this is the US definition of SME so up to 1000 Users ! )

I’m not going to cover the step by step, screen by screen install / setup procedure as its been done by some of my fellow bloggers , but I will link to them at the end of the post.

I deployed the PHDVB appliance , which was very straightforward , then linked it to the VI client plugin. Setup was very easy & I was able to configure a backup within a few minutes.

As a backup target I configured a CIFS file share on my lab storage , a Netapp FAS2020. I’d set a reasonably low retention policy given the small size of file share I’d allocated (100Gb). The backup job was set to backup a total of 8 VM’s and a couple of templates , with a mix of Windows server 2003/2008 and windows 7 operating systems, with a virtual ESXi host & Linux appliance too.

I’m impressed to say that I have on average 5 backups of each VM in the catalogue which if restores would need 1.3Tb,via the mechanisms of Changed Block Tracking , compression and deduplication this is bought down to 45Gb of Data , which then gets an additional 5% space saving thanks to the Netapp dedupe. This gives a dedupe ratio of about 30:1 which isn’t to be sneezed at. I’m hoping to run the trial for a little bit longer to see if that ratio changes when I start to deploy a larger workload in the lab. With the numbers of VM’s I’m currently backing up I’m not worried about the backup window , but have seen this start to become a problem when the VM count goes up. The PHDVB appliance can scale up as well as out , simply by allocating more resources to the VA and eventually deploying multiple appliances.

The VI plugin does a respectable job of managing multiple appliances ( the current rule of thumb is that you should probably deploy 1 VBA per cluster but of course , YMMV ) but I’d like to see a better way of extracting reports from the system, be it from scheduled email or powershell integration. I spoke with some of the guys at PHD about this – currently you are limited to email reports , but I’m told this is due to be addressed shortly. I look forward to being able to tell you more about it as an when its available.

The other big card PHD has up its sleeve is that it can also bring the same backup technology benefits to those running Xen server – many shops run a multi hypervisor environment and I can see it being a huge benefit to be able to use the same software to back both of them up. I also liked the ability to “present” the backups via a share on the Appliance – this makes exporting to another product quite straight forward. You can also replicate the backup store to another location and attach a VBA to it for a cold standby solution for disaster recovery.

In conclusion I have to say I liked the product, and I think it is a great fit for that SME – the per Host licence strategy keeps it simple and for a 2 socket host it comes in at a similar price to its competitors ( who may also wear green shirts ) .If you don’t have space or licencing available to either run a physical backup host , or host a backup application on a windows based server, then PHD may well be the product for you.

Other Reviews of the product:

http://ict-freak.nl/2011/03/17/review-phd-virtual-backup/

http://www.vladan.fr/review-of-phd-virtual-backup-5-1-for-vmware-vsphere-esxi/

Try the product for yourself at www.phdvirtual.com

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Just when you thought it was safe to release something without prefixing with a “v” , Veeam have announced the name of collection of new features in the next version of their flagship backup & replication product.

Today’s webcast by Doug Hazleman gave a quick overview of Veeam backups history of firsts, including Instant file level recovery, Inline dedupe and ESXi replication support . Version 5 brings a whole new set , including 3 patent pending technologies

- Run VM directly form Backup file

- U-AIR ( universal application item recovery)

- Recovery Verification

 

Looking at the recovery verification piece , Veeam commissioned a survey ( results to be published in September )  on backup verification and found the following key points :

- Only 2% of backups are tested for recoverability

- Average time to test backups was 13 hours

- Median cost of failed backups in excess of $400,000 per year.

We’d all love be to able to say that all of our backups will work 100% of the time and having that piece of mind would most certainly prevent the sinking feeling of hours spent to retrieve a tape containing a failed backup , which is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. With Surebackup technology , every single VM level backup you take can be started up and verified that it’ll boot.

 

The core feature of all of the patents is the ability to mount a virtual machine directly form a series of backup files via an NFS datastore directly to a host. That machine can be booted up like a “space-save” tyre. It’ll work but don’t expect it to be all that fast. The recovered VM can then be storage vmotioned out of the recovery datastore back into production , should a more permanent restore be required. It would also be possible to use the replication functionality of Backup  & Replication ( clue’s in the title folks ! ) to replicate that VM to another host , although there would likely be a brief outage during cutover . The instant restore process also extends to file level restores , covering 15 different file systems without the use of VMplayer. Those running a windows shop are extra pampered by an instant indexing service across all backups.

 

U-AIR is all about doing an instant recovery of a VM or set of VM’s that comprise an application , booting them up inside a ring fenced environment the pulling an item out of that backup. Veeam claim to support “any” virtualised application for this , although personally I would add the caveat that the application needs to also have all of its dependencies virtualised – this would include any authentication piece an application uses. If you do have applications that meet those requirements however , you are in for a treat. Application item recover can be user led ( via outlook web access for example for exchange ) or admin led via a series of wizards for AD , Exchange and SQL. In addition to application item level restores , the U-AIR functionality can be used to generate an on-demand snapshots of an application , not too dissimilar to one provided by VMware’s own lab manager. This would be ideal for patch testing in an application where it may not be possible to run a full set of lifecycle environments.

 

After the brief slide deck , Doug moved onto a live demo of the system which looks at first glance pretty much like version 4.x but with the addition of a couple of extra tree items.

The surebackup node is where you define an application group , this can be defined within the product , or can pull in data from existing vApps configured in your infrastructure. Once a datastore is configured to hold any changes to the VM’s during verification, the proxy appliance is set up to allow connectivity between the application and the outside world. this builds a resource pool and vswitch on the host –it would be interesting to see if this will talk to a distributed switch to allow surebackup to run over multiple hosts. You can also see the NFS datastore mounted by the Veeam server. The surebackup job is linked to the application group and its related backup job and is separate to that backup. It can be set to run after the backup completes. The job can be configured to boot all the VM’s in the application group up then run a series of tests on them , namely boot , ping or custom scripts.

 

The Restore node in the tree is also a change from v4 – offering a nice looking wizard that I was able to get a few cheeky screen grabs of.

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When restoring a virtual machine , it is possible to specify a delta datastore to hold updates to that VM, so that the Veeam NFS store is only used for reads , but that would prevent you from doing a storage vmotion. Still , its there as an option if you had to get a machine up and running a bit faster than limp home in a hurry. The demo showed that the VM was mounted pretty much instantly , but didn’t actually boot it up.I’d like to have seen the difference in running speed between a VM and one mounted through the backup.

 

As well as changes to the core product , there are also changes to Enterprise manager , a web based service that allows a Veeam administrator to track and report on a number of Veeam backup servers. As a current user of the product I’m looking forward to a more in depth review of EM , and would love to see it move from a rollup reporting server to a central admin console for the product. What does look to be news is that EM is the central point for searches over those indexed files within a windows backup , allowing you to search your entire environment for files form a single point. I had concerns as to how this might impact the performance of the EM server , which is a pretty small VM in my environment , but was assured that all the indexing goes on at the backup server level. The Lab manager like functionality is also enhanced with EM allowing servers to be temporarily restored from backup , into that ring fenced environment and being removed after a certain period of time.

 

After the live demo , there was a brief Q&A session – in which the different SKU’s where covered ( there will be an Enterprise & Standard edition , with Standard missing a few features – it wasn’t said which ones. ) and a quick point on the requirement for trusts to be place for U-AIR to work in a multi domain environment , not a huge issue for most , but could be if you run multi tenant / forest.

 

If you’d like to view the whole webcast , I believe it will be available shortly at http://www.veeam.com/go/vPower-webinar