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Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup from Storage Snapshots

Veeam DellEMC Unity backup integration allows the option to run backup of VMware virtual machines directly from storage snapshots. In a previous set of articles it was covered the Veeam DellEMC integration steps and also the latest update for the UnityVSA firmware (at the time of writing) which is fully supported by the latest release of Veeam Backup 9.5u4b.

Veeam Backup can do a lot more. Can run Backup and Restore jobs directly from Storage Snapshots sitting on the DellEMC Unity storage. These snapshots can be existing ones or even new ones created by the Veeam Backup Server in a manual fashion. This is adding extra flexibility including the ability to further reduce the RPO and RTO times. Typically backups are taken once a day. DellEMC UnityVSA allows to take storage snapshots, for example hourly. RPO is now set to 1 hour or less depending on the frequency the storage snapshots are taken. Of course Backups and Storage Snapshots together offer the peace of mind even for the most demanding use cases.

The purpose of this article is to show how to configure and run a Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup from Storage Snapshot. In this particular case a Linux Ubuntu machine running on a VMware 6.7  Datastore on top of a UnityVSA storage.


Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup from Storage Snapshot job

From the Veeam console and in the Backup section the option to create a new Backup Job. In this particular case the job has already been created with the name of VMware – Backup from DellEMC Unity Snapshot. Optionally the ability to add a a quick description as well.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

From the Virtual Machine section the option to select the objects and their exclusions (eg. disks) that should be part of the backup scope. When multiple objects are selected there is also the option to prioritize them in a specific order.

When adding objects (read VMs) these can be manually selected from the virtual infrastructure, individual ones for example by name, sitting on particular VMware datastore and even using the vSphere Tags. The best practice from both VMware and Veeam perspective is to leverage these as they add more flexibility.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

In the Storage section the option to choose which Veeam Proxy and Veeam Backup Repository will store he backup data. For the Proxy configuration it is important to make sure the Transport mechanism is either selected to Automatic (default) or Direct Storage Access as covered in a previous article.

From the Advanced settings > Integration the option to enable the Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup from Storage Snapshot. This option is available with the Enterprise Plus edition of Veeam Backup. When selected also provides to limit the number of VMs that should be processed per Storage Snapshot. Interestingly enough if the Direct Storage Access is not available it is possible to automatically fail over to standard backup method (hotadd) and even Network mode.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

At this point it is also possible to choose and enable the application aware processing which allows to take application, file and crash consistent backups for Enterprise applications. This means that application consistent backups happen for Active Directory, SQL, Oracle, Exchange,SharePoint and many others.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

For each VM part of the backup scope is possible to choose a specific behavior.

Veeam allows the option prepare applications for consistent backups (VSS for Windows based, Scripts for now Windows and Linux based) and backup the transaction logs (Exchange, SQL, Oracle) as well.

Last but not least the options for the desired schedule. The best practice is to combine this one with the Storage Snapshots shedules for better RPO and RTO times.

And finally a summary section with the main information for the backup job.

Everything is now ready to run the job. The following screenshots show the stats for the  backup job executed with the storage integration using the DellEMC Unity Storage Snapshots.

In the first one the creation / deletion of the VMware hypervisor snapshot which takes less than 2 seconds.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

As soon as the VMware snapshot has been created Veeam will trigger a Storage Snapshot on the DellEMC Unity. As per screenshot below it takes 15 seconds (this is from current homelab. In real production environments it might be quicker!). As soon as the Storage Snapshot has been taken Veeam will send the message to VMware to delete the hypervisor snapshot which takes another 2 seconds or less (at least in this environment). VMware has only 15 seconds (worth of changes in the REDO log file) to merge back to the base .vmdk file. At this point Veeam can run the backup directly from the DellEMC unity Storage Snapshot. The Veeam Proxy mounts (in read-only) the Storage Snapshot and copies only the pertinent VM data blocks. Veeam leverages the native VMware CBT filter driver when enabled. It requires VMware tools (or equivalent in case of Linux) to be up and running.

domalab.com Veeam DellEMC Unity Backup

About the author

Michele Domanico

Passionate about Virtualization, Storage, Data Availability and Software Defined Data Center technologies. The aim of Domalab.com is sharing with the Community the knowledge and experience gained with customers, industry leaders and like minded peers. Always open to constructive feedback and new challenges.

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