Over the last few months, I have become intimately familiar with the UCS C3160 server. (See Figure 1.) This high-density rack server has 62 drive bays, holds 60 large form factor (3.5”) hard disk drives and has room for two SSDs. Dual Intel Xeon processors, up to 512 GB of RAM and all of that storage in a 4RU form factor — WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE? The C3160 also has a VIC (virtual interface card) with four 10 GbE ports and a nice RAID controller, with up to 4 GB of battery-backed, write cache. This thing is built to be a performer!
My first thought about this server was that the C3160 would make a great all-in-one Veeam backup/proxy/repository server. So I decided to test it and wrote the resulting deployment guide, which can be found here: Veeam Availability on UCS: Deployment Guide.
During my testing, I found that the CIMC (Cisco Integrated Management Controller) (See Figure 2.) was easy to use and offered both a web UI and a CLI interface. There’s also a built-in KVM tool that you can access via the web UI. We also tested and validated all of our Veeam® solutions as Cisco compatible.
CIMC Web UI
After installing Windows Server on the SSDs, I deployed Veeam Backup & Replication™ and setup my RAID group (details and recommendations are in the Veeam Availability on UCS: Deployment Guide). After some time testing with the box, I found the combination of Veeam + C3160 to be an excellent solution for larger environments and for service providers. There is enough performance to run multiple concurrent jobs. I was impressed! The two SSDs made for a great place to install the base Windows Server OS and Veeam Backup & Replication.
Although UCS C3160 is great, it might also be too much for your virtual environment. If so, no problem because there is a smaller configuration that leverages a UCS C240 M4. The C240 pre-configured server also has dual Intel Xeon processors, 32 GB of RAM, a VIC with dual 10 GbE connectivity, a RAID controller with 1 GB cache, 12 large form factor near line SAS drives and one SSD. The suggested configuration can be altered to suit your own needs. The C240 is managed a little bit differently than the C3160. It is managed using Cisco’s UCS Manager. For those of you that already have UCS servers in your environment, this will be very familiar territory. (See Figure 3.)
Leveraging SSDs for your vPower NFS folder will give a performance boost when performing restores that leverage vPower® technology and this is what it’s really about for me: restore performance. Multiple backup streams across a 10 GbE connection make for fast backups, but having many spindles of near line SAS drives also make for great restore performance. Why would I focus so much on restore performance? Well, with Veeam Backup & Replication I am able to use the repositories for more than just holding backups. Performing Instant VM recovery runs the VM or VMs directly off of the repository, so having a high performing repository offers an advantage.
In addition, testing with SureBackup® or our On-Demand Sandbox™ environment can run several VMs directly off of the repository. Being able to leverage your backups and provide recoveries in less than 15 minutes requires that you take into account the performance of the repository where you are housing your backups. It’s no longer just about how much space you need or for how long you can keep your backups. With the Veeam’s availability with the UCS solution, it’s about how long before your data or application is available again?
Cisco liked this joint solution and now the Veeam availability and UCS solution is available for order through your Cisco partner. Partners can order these directly from the Cisco commerce workspace, which is already pre-configured according to the reference architecture. There are currently three different configurations available, ranging from the C240 M4 up to three C3160s. These configurations should cover just about any environment because the baseline reference configurations can be altered to your liking. After selecting and ordering one of the pre-configured servers, your partner will pre-install Windows and Veeam Backup & Replication onto the server. When the server arrives, it will be ready to drop in a rack, auto-discover your entire virtual environment and take backups quickly. If you are looking for high availability for your virtual infrastructure, look no further!