With VMworld 2019 right around the corner, we wanted to share a recap on some of the powerful things that VMware has in their armoury and also discuss how Veeam can leverage this to enhance your Availability.
This week VMware announced vSAN 6.7 Update 3. This release seems to have a heavy focus on simplifying data center management while improving overall performance. A few things that stood out to me with this release included:
- Cleaner, simpler UI for capacity management: 6.7 Update 3 has color-coding, consumption breakdown, and usable capacity analysis for better capacity planning allowing administrators to more easily understand the consumption breakdown.
- Storage Policy changes now occur in batches. This ensures that all policy changes complete successfully, and free capacity is not exhausted.
- iSCSI LUNs presented from vSAN can now be resized without the need to take the volume offline, preventing application disruption.
- SCSI-3 persistent reservations (SCSI-3 PR) allow for native support for Windows Server Failover Clusters (WSFC) requiring a shared disk.
Veeam is listed in the vSAN HCL for vSAN Partner Solutions and can protect and restore VMs. The certification for the new Update 3 release is also well on its way to being complete.
Another interesting point to mention is the Windows Server Failover Clusters (WSFC). While these are seen as VMDKs, they are not applicable to the data protection APIs used for data protection tasks. This is where the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows comes in with the ability to protect those failover clusters in the best possible way.
What is SPBM?
Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) is the vSphere administrator’s answer to control within their environments. This framework allows them to overcome upfront storage provisioning challenges, such as capacity planning, differentiated service levels and managing capacity resources in a much better and efficient way. All of this is achieved by defining a set of policies within vSphere for the storage layer. These storage policies optimise the provisioning process of VMs by provisioning specific datastores at scale, which in turn will remove the headaches between vSphere admins and storage admins.
However, this is not a closed group between the storage and virtualisation admins. It also allows Veeam to hook into certain areas to provide better Availability for your virtualised workloads.
SPBM spans all storage offerings from VMware, traditional VMFS/NFS datastore as well as vSAN and Virtual Volumes, allowing policies to overarch any type of environment leveraging whatever type of storage that is required or in place.
What can Veeam do?
Veeam can leverage these policies to better protect virtual workloads, by utilising vSphere tags on old and newly created virtual machines and having specific jobs setup in Veeam Backup & Replication with specific schedules and settings that are required to meet the SLA of those workloads.
Veeam will also back up any virtual machine that has an SPBM policy assigned to it, as well as protect the data. It will also protect the policy, so if you had to restore the whole virtual machine, the policy would be available as part of the restore process.
Gone are the days of the backup admin adding and removing virtual machines from a backup job, so let’s spend time on the interesting and exciting things that provide much more benefit to your IT systems investment.
With vSphere tags, you can create logical groupings within your VMware environment based on any characteristic that is required. Once this is done, you are able to migrate those tags into Veeam Backup & Replication and create backup jobs based on vSphere tags. You can also create your own set of vSphere tags to assign to your virtual machine workloads based on how often you need to back up or replicate your data, providing a granular approach to the Availability of your infrastructure.
VMware Snapshots – The vSAN way
In vSAN 6.0, VMware introduced vSAN Sparse Snapshots. The snapshot implementation for vSAN provides significantly better I/O performance. The good news for Veeam customers is if you are using the traditional VMFS or the newer vSAN sparse snapshots the display and output are the same — a backup containing your data. The benefits are incredible from a performance and methodology point of view when it comes to the sparse snapshot way and can play a huge role in achieving your backup windows.
The difference between the “traditional” and the new snapshot methodology that both vSAN as well as Virtual Volumes leverage is that a traditional VMFS snapshot is using Redo logs which, when working with high I/O workloads, could cause performance hits when committing those changes back to the VM disk. The vSAN way is much more similar to a shared storage system and a Copy On Write snapshot. This means that there is no commitment after a backup job has released a snapshot, meaning that I/O can continue to run as the business needs.
There are lots of other integrations between Veeam and VMware but I feel that this is still the number one touch point where a vSphere and Backup Admin can really make their life easier by using policy-based backups using Veeam.