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Optimizing VMware protection with HP and Veeam


Executive Summary 

VMware administrators know how important a reliable and flexible data protection strategy is. Traditional backup methods are not optimized for VMware environments. These traditional methods are adequate when making the transition to a VMware infrastructure, but as more workloads and critical workloads are moved to virtual machines, VMware optimized backup and recovery solutions are needed.
Data protection software and hardware need to provide an effective solution that protects VMware files, images, templates, and applications running on virtual machines by integrating directly into VMware’s rich feature set while offering features such as backup data deduplication and replication. Hewlett Packard and Veeam Backup software offer VMware optimized protection solutions for virtual data center administrators.


Key points:

  • - For VMware-centric environments, Veeam Backup is an excellent application to manage backup and recovery to HP StoreOnce D2D appliances.
  • - Using Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode provides for faster incremental backups and allows for leveraging synthetic full backups.
  • - Both the Veeam Backup and the HP StoreOnce D2D appliances offer backup data deduplication. Highest backup performance is achieved by enabling both the software and hardware deduplication.
  • - Veeam Backup has no native backup to tape support. For longer term protection and archiving, backup data can be copied to tape using a simple scripted integration with other backup applications.
  • - Backup to HP StoreOnce D2D appliances can be configured and run in less than 20 minutes with the Veeam Backup Job Wizard.



This technical brief provides an overview of the latest VMware data protection technologies available and their recommended best practices when configuring the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance with Veeam Backup.
This paper focuses on the recommended settings to be used when configuring an HP StoreOnce D2D appliance with Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode with Synthetic Full. By following these recommendations, the VMware data protection solution can achieve optimum results.
The technical information in this brief has been tested and certified by both HP and Veeam Backup.


Technology overview 

Technologies covered include VMware Change Block Tracking, VMware vStorage APIs, Veeam Backup inline source-side deduplication, HP StoreOnce D2D appliance target-side deduplication and HP StoreOnce replication. When used together, this delivers a data protection solution that can be implemented in any VMware environment.


VMware vStorage APIs and Change Block Tracking

Change Block Tracking (CBT) is a feature that was introduced in VMware vSphere 4.0 that keeps track of blocks of data stored on a virtual disk that have been changed since a certain point in time. CBT is a VMkernel feature. Access is via the VMware vStorage APIs. By default, CBT is not enabled due to the slight (1–2%) overhead incurred when using this feature.

The vStorage APIs are a set of interfaces exposed for third party hardware and software integration with the VMware storage features. A subset of these is specifically for backup and recovery software vendors to optimize VMware data protection. These are known as the vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP). The VMware recommended method of backup and recovery is to use products that support VADP. Veeam Backup fully supports VADP.

Veeam Backup queries the VMkernel through the VADP, to identify the blocks of data that have changed on the virtual disk since the last backup, which greatly improves the performance of incremental backups.

The first full backup of any virtual machine results in all the data being transferred to the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance, but all incremental data consists of only the changed blocks as identified by CBT.

The use of CBT requires VMware virtual hardware 7 for virtual machines.


Veeam Backup source-side deduplication

Inline deduplication performs deduplication processing during the backup process before writing data to the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance. This reduces the amount of data packets sent across a network while increasing storage utilization. The scope of the deduplication is the data in the backup job. Deduplication is a configurable option for the backup job.

Inline deduplication works by cataloging and comparing the processed data to data previously backed up data. Duplicate data is skipped while unique data is sent to the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance.

Veeam Backup inline deduplication uses resources on the client machine or the Veeam Backup server. The hardware needs to be sized to provide the required resources for the deduplication process and not impact other applications running. Veeam Backup inline deduplication block sizes are configurable from 256 KB to 1 MB. These block sizes are optimized for the distance to the backup storage from the virtual machine. Setting the storage target to a WAN target results in a block size of 256 KB, 512 KB for LAN targets and 1 MB for locally attached targets.


HP StoreOnce D2D appliance target-side deduplication

Target-side deduplication is performed on the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance that has been configured as either a Virtual Tape Library (VTL) or NAS share and is presented to the backup application. A major benefit of target-side deduplication is that the backup storage appliance removes the processing I/O from the backup server or clients enabling the dedicated hardware to use finer deduplication chunking, which improves deduplication ratios and storage utilization.


Combining Veeam Backup inline and HP D2D target-based deduplication

The HP and Veeam recommendation is to enable Veeam Backup inline deduplication along with HP StoreOnce D2D appliance target-side deduplication. Both deduplication techniques provide complementary benefits.
Veeam Backup’s inline deduplication reduces the amount of backup data sent over the network, but works only within single backup jobs. The HP StoreOnce D2D appliance uses smaller blocks to identify repeated data across single and multiple backups produced by different Veeam backup jobs. This further reduces the amount of data to be physically stored, thus greatly improving storage utilization.


HP StoreOnce D2D appliances and Veeam Backup

This paper focuses on best practices and techniques for using the Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode in conjunction with the HP StoreOnce D2D appliances. Veeam Backup’s other backup mode— Reversed Incremental is not covered in this paper since this mode is designed for backups to general purpose disk storage. Testing has confirmed that this backup mode may impact performance when used with deduplicating backup appliances such as the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance.

When Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode is selected, Veeam Backup creates a full backup file (.vbk) at the first run of the backup job. At subsequent backups, it only saves changes that have taken place since the last performed backup (whether full or incremental) and saves them as incremental backup files (.vib).

As well as being optimized for deduplicating backup appliances, the Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode is the best choice if regulation and policies require you to regularly move a backup file to tape. With the Incremental backup mode, only incremental changes, not the full backup file, are moved, which takes less time and requires less tape. Tape copy is not supported directly by Veeam Backup, but it can be scripted as a post-process activity. More detail on this feature is provided in a later section.


An appliance vs. general purpose disk for data protection

There are many reasons why the HP StoreOnce D2D disk appliance more robust and easier to manage for data protection than general purpose disk:

The HP StoreOnce D2D appliance is a single purpose machine, optimized for backup. It is robust, and access is limited to prevent unwanted deletions and data corruption. There is a dedicated management interface to control and report on all the data protection features. General purpose disk is cheaper to buy but much more expensive to manage and less robust.

  • - The HP StoreOnce D2D appliance has the added benefit of reliable performance with fine-grain chunking and Sparse Indexing (Intellectual property of HP that reduces memory and disk I/O requirements, enabling efficient deduplication for all workloads) resulting in higher deduplication ratios thus achieving better utilization of storage capacity.
  • - Consolidating backups onto an appliance enables deduplication across backup jobs resulting in increased backup data deduplication and improved storage utilization.
  • - With smaller deduplication blocks than available in the Veeam Backup, deduplication ratios are higher and replication from D2D appliance to D2D appliance is more efficient by sending smaller data packets, thus utilizing a smaller amount of bandwidth.

With Veeam Backup Incremental backup mode, you must regularly perform either Synthetic (build from incremental data) or Active full backups to maintain a specified retention policy. Multiple full backups will not consume significant storage space, because all similar blocks will only be stored once by the HP StoreOnce D2D appliance.



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