I have five performance tips to help you make sure you’ve done everything right to optimally configure Veeam Backup & Replication with Microsoft Hyper-V so they work better together!
1. Virtualized off-host proxies
There are two approaches for handling Hyper-V backup with Veeam. You can use either on-host or off-host backup methods. If you take a look at the on-host backup method, you see that VM data is handled on the source Hyper-V host and where that VM resides. Because processing operations here are performed directly on the source Hyper-V host, on-host backup might result in high CPU usage and network overhead on the host system. To avoid these issues, an admin should consider using an off-host backup mode (refer to pic.1).
Off-host backup means that the process is moved from the source Hyper-V host to another dedicated server, the off-host backup proxy. The off-host backup proxy runs the Veeam transport service, which retrieves VM data from the original datastore, processes it on this server, and then transfers it to the destination storage. This is why the off-host proxy is called a “data mover.” This backup type has very little impact on the Hyper-V host. Resource-intensive backup operations are performed on an off-host backup proxy, and production hosts are not affected.
That said, some users still prefer to take advantage of an offhost proxy to reduce backup impact on the production system. Yet, these users must not forget that it’s still a requirement for an off-host proxy to be physical. (Well, technically speaking it’s possible but not recommended) Please consider this recommendation and find additional information about the off-host backup at the Veeam Help Center.
Pic. 1 Off-host backup
2. Microsoft System provider limitations
Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is a specific service that provides transaction consistency for data being backed up. VSS coordinates the backup process and has a few dependent components, such as VSS provider, which can either be software (from the OS) or hardware (from the hardware-storage appliance). VSS provider creates and handles all shadow copies of OS data. Depending on which Microsoft Hyper-V version and VSS provider you use, there might be some limitations.
For example, with Server 2008 R2, it was only possible to process one VM at a single point in time using VSS provider. It is also not possible to use VSS provider in off-host backup mode. It’s true that there are fewer limitations with newer Hyper-V versions such as Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V. However, you will still need to be careful.
It’s a good idea to find out which providers are available for your configuration and also how you can overcome provider limitations, if any. Read VSS Providers for more information.
3. Relevant integration services
Hyper-V Integration Services is a package of utilities in Hyper-V that are designed to improve the VM guest’s OS performance. Hyper-V Integration Services tunes the drivers of the virtual environments to result in the best possible performance. When installed on a guest machine, you are able to make sure that VSS processing is handled properly at the guest level.
The package improves virtual-machine management by replacing generic operating-system driver files for machine devices and components. Please note that Integration Services should be installed on a guest VM right after it has been deployed. The process requires an additional step during deployment: insert Integration Services disk.
Needless to say, outdated Integration Services software will not provide the best performance. In addition, this could also cause you to experience difficulties while creating backups. In order to prevent these issues, check out the KB article that explains how you can check the Integration Services version, update it, find a compatibility list for various versions and troubleshoot the simplest issues.
4. MPIO alignment
Multipath I/O (MPIO) is a framework developed by Microsoft that’s specifically designed to mitigate the effects of a host bus adapter failure by providing an alternative data path between storage devices and a Windows operating system. If you use a hardware vendor that provides MPIO, make sure you use that same MPIO for all hosts. When there is a vendor-built MPIO that’s specific for that hardware, there is no need to use Microsoft MPIO. The performance of your host won’t be completely optimal though, especially when you compare it to what it would be with proper MPIO usage. The most common problem encountered here is when you have the correct MPIO selected for one or more nodes in a cluster, but they are not all using that hardware.
5. Hyper-V Host NICs
I have no doubt, that a few NICs have been installed on your Hyper-V VMs, and that one of them is dedicated only to management traffic. It is important here that you check to see if your NICs drivers are updated. It’s important to use updated drivers all of the time. For Hyper-V VMs, outdated drivers can drastically reduce the impact performance and cause communication problems when dealing with the host NICs. By updating the drivers, you’ll improve the situation and allow the drivers to take full advantage of the version’s enhanced program code.
I also wanted to remind you that Veeam Backup & Replication for Hyper-V became compatible with Microsoft Hyper-V 2012 R2 after Veeam Backup & Replication 7.0 R2 update. My bonus advice here is to double check Veeam version (open Veeam GUI, click “main menu”, “help” and “about”) and make sure you have an up-to-date version (should be build 220.127.116.111 or newer).
I hope you found these tips useful, regardless of whether you plan to deploy a Hyper-V environment or just tune an existing one. And remember, Veeam + Hyper-V = Better Together! If you think that your personal best configuration practice is missed here, please share your tips via Twitter and tag @veeam in your twit so we can discuss it together.