Best Practices for VMware vSphere Backup

Best Practices for VMware vSphere Backup

Alex Tray

VMWare vSphere virtual environments need to be regularly backed up to ensure vital data is protected. For busy IT teams with limited budgets, any resource or cost savings can be a welcome boost. This article provides some best practices for VMWare vSphere backup.

Utilize the power of your VMs

Using virtual machines in your organization is a strategic decision. However, backing them up effectively requires IT teams to think differently to physical server backups.

Backing up physical servers involves running an agent to capture data. This is a resource-heavy approach and is not suited to VM backups.

A better alternative for virtual environments is to do so with image-level backups. This is accomplished with a backup solution designed specifically for VMs. Doing so minimizes resource utilization and keeps VMs optimized for critical user functions.

Reduce the impact of backups

Lessening the impact of backups on VM workloads is also made possible by using vSphere’s vStorage APIs.

APIs work by reducing backup demands on the host server. Using a solution that uses VMWare’s innovative ‘Changed Block Tracking (CBT) throttles the resources needed for backups. Only those ‘blocks’ of data that have been changed are backed up, which reduces the workload by limiting the need to search for changed data.

The resulting lighter and faster backups mean resources can be diverted to servicing user workloads as a side effect.

Preparing your applications to be backed up

Email servers and databases are two examples of applications that can slow down VM backups. The technical term for this is backup is ‘application-consistent’. In other words, find a backup tool that pauses outstanding tasks to optimize the VM for its backup.

While this cannot be done for all types of applications, following this approach ensures no data is lost if the virtual server needs to be recovered.

Have the right infrastructure in place

It may sound obvious, but VM backups work best when the right infrastructure supports them. Specifically, it is important to prevent backup servers from bottlenecking resources. If this is the case, recovery time objectives can be jeopardized by a lack of available bandwidth.

When planning CPU and resource requirements, bear in mind that backup processing is not just about transitioning data from the host server to cloud or physical storage machines. Data deduplication and compression also contribute to the resource demands on the system but add their own benefits that make them worthwhile.

Snapshots have a use – but do not confuse them with backups.

While it may be tempting, using snapshots from your VMs as your main backups is not the right approach. This is because each snapshot negatively impacts the performance of VMs.

Storing your backup data in this way also ties up space in data stores. The danger of this is that if all data stores become saturated, an entire VM environment can shut down. In short, snapshots should be used selectively and should be deleted as soon as possible.

Pay attention to scheduling.

By definition, virtual environments are designed around shared resources. Therefore, carefulInstead, coordinate planning of backup schedules is essential to avoid resource bottlenecks.

When scheduling, try to avoid backing up several VMs on the same host server simultaneously. Coordinate your backup schedule to spread resource utilization evenly; otherwise, your whole system could be slowed down during every backup window.

Testing your schedule is also a must. This will tell you if, despite your best planning, there are resource bottlenecks. It will also help to anticipate any recovery issues and identify any issues with backup tools.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket.

Backups that work at image level run by creating snapshots to virtual disks. This offers baked-in failover by utilizing separate VMs.

Products designed for VMWare recognize this and enable block-based data to be backed up from both the backup VMs.

Efficient VMWare backup

NAKIVO Backup & Replication facilitates all these best practices. It is a backup solution built specifically for VMWare, check more info here. It works using an efficient block-based approach on an image level to support the efficiency gains covered in this article. In addition, coordinated is built to leverage VMWare’s CBT to identify incremental changes that took place since the last backup.

The post Best Practices for VMware vSphere Backup appeared first on Datafloq.

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