Last week when I outlined a few considerations about whether to install Veeam Backup & Replication as a virtual or physical machine, a follow-up conversation reminded me of an important configuration scenario. If Veeam Backup & Replication is installed on a virtual machine with an iSCSI storage processor as the production storage for vSphere, you can configure the iSCSI initiator within the guest virtual machine. This enables Veeam Backup & Replication to access the production storage for vSphere directly.

Once you configure the iSCSI initiator, you will see your production VMFS LUNs appear in the disk management snap-in of the Veeam Backup & Replication server.  Be sure to check out this is this post from Justin’s IT Blog about this topic. This is shown in the figure below:

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This would require any zoning on the iSCSI target to include the iSCSI qualified name (IQN) of the Veeam Backup & Replication server to the storage provisioned for the vSphere (or VI3) environment. In this example, the storage is a 2 TB LUN that is formatted with VMFS. While the drive path is visible within Windows, do not try to initialize or format these LUNs within the disk management snap-in, as this could corrupt or overwrite data stored on the VMFS LUNs. Further, note that the Veeam Backup & Replication v5 and later setup automatically disables the automount feature of Windows. Automount allows for automatically mounting and assigning configuration to newly connected volumes. If you add a VMFS datastore to the Veeam Backup & Replication server, with automount enabled, the operating system may initialize and re-signature the volume. This would make it unrecognizable by the ESX(i) hosts.

Having these LUNs visible within disk management can ensure that all of the required LUNs are available to Veeam Backup & Replication, including viewing the target and LUN IDs as presented from the storage processor. Conversely, if all VMFS LUNs are not visible; there may be a zoning issue.

Direct SAN access processing mode allows Veeam Backup & Replication to communicate directly with the storage for the highest backup job performance. Further, if the backup target supports iSCSI or fibre channel; direct SAN access mode also enables a completely LAN-free backup implementation.

In the case of iSCSI storage, this usually means that the virtual machine that Veeam Backup & Replication is running on will have a presence of at least two (or more) networks (vNICs) as in most iSCSI storage networks are separated from other networks (including production networks), at least at a VLAN level. Should fibre channel storage be used as the backup target, NPIV can be leveraged to connect a virtual machine running Veeam Backup & Replication directly to the SAN fabric.

What configuration practices have you done with Veeam Backup & Replication as a virtual machine and iSCSI storage networks? Share your comments below.

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Using the iSCSI initiator within Veeam Backup & Replication in a VM, 4.8 out of 5 based on 12 ratings

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    • Hussain

      Hello,
      In my environment, I have Veeam installed on a VM and I have done this practice, but still I don’t see better performance in backing up a VM or restoring a VM. Still the speed at 10 ~ 15 MB/s.

      What could be the other issues to speed up my backup?

      Thanks,

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    • http://www.veeam.com/blog Rick.Vanover

      Hi Hussain:

      Installing the iSCSI initiator within a VM will ensure that Direct SAN mode will work.

      As for your concern about the rate, is the production storage and backup storage on the same SAN/storage processor?

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    • Hussain

      Hi Rick,

      This is a test environment.

      The storage is hosted on Windows 2003 StarWind Server, both SAN Server and ESX servers are connected to the same pSwitches. vLAN separating the traffic. Veeam VM installed on the same ESX host that the iSCSI initiator targeted.

      My configuration:

      ESX01 Server connected to Dell 2650 running iSCSI StarWind.
      Veeam VM running on the same Server ESX01
      Backup LUN .vmdk added from StarWind server via ESX01.
      iSCSI initiator configured on veeam VM.
      Backup running on VMs running on ESX01 Server
      Backup job as Direct SAN and Virtual Appliance, both are same speed. 🙁

      Thanks,

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    • http://www.rickvanover.com Rick Vanover

      I don’t have a specific baseline for how a configuration like that would perform as other factors such as SCSI/SAS/SATA and number of drives come into play as well as the makeup of the VM.

      Curiously, is StarWind installed as a VM or directly on the Dell 2650?

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    • Wesley

      Hi Rick,
      I have Veeam Backup 5.0.2 running on standalone Windows 2008 R2 64Bit server.
      The server is directly attached to SAN through SAS cables, there is nothing between the SAN and the Server. The VMFS LUN’s are visible in Disk Manager. Everytime I try to run Backup using the Direct SAN Access it always fails over to network. Any ideas why this happens?

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    • http://www.veeam.com/blog Rick.Vanover

      “Through SAS cables” concerns me. If it is SAN, the connectivity must be iSCSI (Ethernet) or fibre channel (HBA).

      What is the storage product in use?

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    • vmcreator

      Hi wesley,

      SAS cables?. Are you using something like a HP P2000 directly attached. If so, check “Explicit Mapping” etc

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    • http://iSCSIPerformance Hussain

      Hi,
      I have changed the setup a bit and now veeam v6 installed on a VM 64bit Ent with 2 vCPUs quoad core each and 6 GB memory.

      Veeam is installed on one of the LUNs that comes from EMC AX4-5i and all the VMs resides on this SAN Storage.

      1 LUN Target attached to the Veeam VM via iSCSI Initiator from EMC SAN.

      2 LUNs target attached to Veeam VM via iSCSI Initiator from IBM DS3500 SAN.

      1 LUN target from OpenFiler attached to the Veeam VM via iSCSI Initiator.

      Veeam VM has 4 vNICs connected to the iSCSI Portgroup on the iSCSI vSwitch in ESX.5.0.

      All the LUNs where the VMs resides are presented to the Veeam VM and they shown in the Disk Management.

      How can I increase the performance? I can see that performance is really slow. Is there a way or tricks to make it faster?

      Thanks,
      Hussain

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    • Rich

      I too have a EMC Ax4-5i which all the VM’s reside on. I have configured my Veeam Backup Servers ISCSI Initiator (2008 R2) to see the VMFS LUNS but it still cannot connect via direct san access. Besides the normal EMC stuff do I need to do anything special to get the VMFS LUN’s to be accessable on the Veeam backup server for the direct SAN Access?
      Thanks,
      Rich

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    • http://www.veeam.com/blog Rick.Vanover

      Hi Rich, can you see the drives in Server Manager? Then we should be good. You can open a support case at cp.veeam.com!

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    • http://iSCSIPerformance Hussain

      Hi,
      The disks are showing in the Disk Manager of Windows 2008, but some of them as Unknown and some of them are Online. They must be all as online BLUE Disks or Unknown as BLACK Disks?

      H

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    • http://www.rickvanover.com Rick Vanover

      They should be offline, further, properties of each disk will help you determine where it is coming from (SAN-wise).

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    • http://iSCSIPerformance Hussain

      The disks are offline and Veeam gives Warning “Unable to establish connection to SAN”

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    • http://www.rickvanover.com Rick Vanover

      Hi Hussain – you may want to check with support to see if they can give you more information on the situation.

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    • Neadom

      I think the issue I have with this is that this post does not give the configuration where this applies. This does not work for a HOST running “Local Storage” I have a client that has a IBM Blade Center S with Local Storage. My Backup Target is my SAN over iSCSI and I am running ESXi 5. I have to setup my Veeam Backup Server (Virtual) to connect to the iSCSI with the Microsoft iSCSI Initiator and map the drive to a letter so that Veeam will see the drive and I am able to backup to it. This configuration is ONLY for Backing up LUN based VMs so that Veeam / Backup Proxy can READ the Guest VM Data from the LUN Directly.

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    • Boon Hong

      When you said direct SAN access, do you mean the iSCSI storage is NOT map into ESXi as VMDK and present to the VM with Veeam installed as local storage? But using Microsoft iSCSI inside the VM and map directly to the iSCSI storage, bypassing the ESXi completely?

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    • http://www.veeam.com/blog Rick.Vanover

      Hi Boon – yes, the iSCSI initiator in this configuration would be directly to the VMFS volume on the SAN. Here is a related post: http://www.veeam.com/blog/direct-san-access-tips-for-iscsi-vmfs-volumes-and-backup-proxies.html

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    • Dan

      I had the same issue with a Dell MD3200 install he tools from the resource CD and reboot backup server that should sort it for you

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    • Anthony Montes

      I must be totally missing something but I don’t know what. I have a Windows 2k8 R2 server with 2 NICs and a lot of local storage. One NIC is a 1G on our 10.139.x.x net which all servers/PC/s/etc access. The other is a 10G NIC on a 10.140.x.x net which storage and the ESX Servers, and the Veeam box are on. (The ESX’s, Veeam, and 2k8 box are also on the 10.139 net) Since the 2k8 Server and the ESXs are on the 10G backbone and the source VM is on ESX, the destination for the Veeam backup is on the 2k8 Server, I am looking for the fastest avenue of transport from source to target. I thought that if I installed MS iSCSI Target software on the 2k8 box and created an iSCSI target from the local storage on it and then configured Veeam with iSCSI initiator software to access that target, it would improve throughput. On the Veeam box I have added the iSCSI target ( the 2k8 box). Now I can see the Target under Storage manager on the Veeam box but cannot figure out how to add it as a repository so that I can backup to it. Maybe I am going about this all wrong but there is probably somebody else out there as clueless as me that needs help. What would be the best way to take advantage of this 10G backbone to backup from ESX to the 2k8 box? Simply adding the 2k8 box as a Windows drive letter to the Veeam box only gives me about 39M throughput. I know I can get faster than that. Thanks for tolerating my newbieness

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      • Rick Vanover

        Hi Anthony – there are a number of things. I’d recommend giving Veeam support a call. they can take the right look at your options, it looks like you have the pieces right – just got to get them sorted.

        You can call, go to cp.veeam.com or go to vee.am/help for info on how to make a case.

        Cheers.

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    • Rick Vanover

      Hi DZak, in that situation, I’d put the iSCSI intiatior on the guest VM that will be the repository server. The proxies would communicate to the repository server directly.

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    • Nate Cartwright

      So, Windows 7 SP1 won’t install on a system with automount disabled. You get error “The boot configuration data store could not be opened.
      The system cannot find the file specified.” Microsoft’s recommendation to fix this is to re-enable automount. So, how does one install SP1 with iSCSI and Veeam running on a system without ruining the LUNs? Remove all of them, install SP1, and re-add them?

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    • Rick Vanover

      Hey Nate: Take the system off the iSCSI network, enable automount, do the update, re-disable automount, put it back on iSCSI network…

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    • Flux Blocker

      What if the Veeam backup and replication server is on a physical Windows Server, with a backup proxy residing on a VM that is attached to and using SAN storage? We have a small deployment of vSphere with a 3-host cluster and I am just trying Veeam for the first time but I am almost certain we will buy the license. It is the fully-functional trial that I am working with now. With this setup, am I better off putting the Veeam server in a VM that uses the SAN storage, or is the setup above, (with the Veeam server on a physical Windows server and a backup proxy in a VM) just as good? Is there a “best practices” blog post somewhere you could refer me to? I want to make sure I set this up the most optimal way. I plan to also use a single ESXi host server with local storage, (in a remote DR site) and keep a copy of the backed-up VMs so that they can be powered on in the event of a loss of access to the production SAN, but right now I just want to make sure I set up the main site with the SAN the best possible way. Many, many thanks!

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    Rick Vanover
    Author: Rick Vanover
    Rick Vanover (MVP, vExpert, Cisco Champion) is the director of Technical Product Marketing & Evangelism for Veeam Software based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick’s IT experience includes system administration and IT management; with virtualization being the central theme of his career recently.
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    Published: April 12, 2011