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So I'm tasked with navigating the murky waters of Backup Exec and all it's glorious agents and licensing SNAFUs, so I turn to you, my friends.

For simplicity-sake, here's what I have:

1 vSphere Essentials host

1 Backup Exec 12.5 server (1TB RAID 1) with an LTO5 tape drive.

1 SQL Server virtual machine

1 Exchange 2007 Server virtual machine

1 2008R2 Domain Controller (and file server)

I have Backup Exec 12.5. Let's say I have all the agents I need. From this FAQ document (.PDF) from Symantec, I need:

Exchange: 1 VMware agent, 1 Exchange agent, since the VMware agent handles the image-level backup, the application-ware agents like SQL and Exchange ensure that the application data is in a consistent state, logs are committed, etc.

SQL: same thing.

2008 R2 DC: VMware agent and Windows Server agent(?), but essentially same thing: image-level backup and file/application-level backups respectively.

Couple of things:

  1. Do you normally run two jobs per server here? i.e. one job for Exchange to do the image-level backup and one to do the application-level backup (or vice-versa) one after the other?

  2. Saw this, not really sure how it fits in with what I have above (which itself was what I gleaned from the same PDF):

  1. How do I protect and recover entire Guest virtual machines that run applications or databases like Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, etc?
    Answer- Applications that utilize the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) framework on Windows 2003 and 2008 can be protected as part of an image-level backup of the entire Guest virtual machine with AVVI using a “VSS Requestor/Provider” that must be installed inside of the Guest virtual machine running the application. There are two options for obtaining a VSS “Requestor/Provider” for your Windows Guest virtual machines running Windows 2003 or later:

    • A generic version can be obtained as part of ESX 3.5 Update 2 from VMware

    • A BackupExec specific version can be obtained as part of Backup Exec 12.5 AVVI on the Backup Exec 12.5 CD. Please see your Backup Exec 12.5 Administrator’s Guide for more details on how to install the VSS “Requestor/Provider”

    • Each VSS Requestor/Provider should be installed separately and never on the same system at the same time. Please select one or the other.

If your application is not “VSS aware”, this information does not apply. Check with your application or database vendor to confirm its VSS capabilities.

So on top of the other two agents, I need to install the "VSS Requestor/Provider"? Umm what?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It would appear from reading that document that your assumption is correct if you want to perform VM guest level backups and also perform application level backups. In order to properly backup Exchange and SQL (in order to manage the logs and facilitate GRT) then you need to perform an application level backup which can only be accomplished with the relevant agents while performing a typical OS level backup of the guest machine with the appropriate applications selected (Information Store, SQL databases, etc).

If you perform only a guest level backup then that will of course facilitate the restore of the OS, Exchange, and SQL as a whole as they'll be part of the guest backup. I'm assuming they'd be in the same state they were in when the guest backup was performed, which is to say they'd probably be fine, but I'm not sure I'd trust it for Exchange and SQL and it won't manage the application logs or allow for GRT restores of the applications.

An alternate method might be to perform guest level backups with another utility, like VM Explorer to facilitate the restore of the guest and then use BackupExec to bring the OS and applications back to their most current state. This is what I do. I perform a weekly guest backup with VM Explorer to give me an image I can restore quickly at the host/guest level and then use BackupExec to restore the OS and applications to their most current state.

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VM Explorer looks interesting: have you done any test restores of guest VMs? Any deduplication? Doing further reading, I think the weekly image-level backups are fairly common to, as you say, get you up-and-running in a disaster scenario with a recent copy of the guest VM. –  gravyface May 19 '11 at 12:08
    
I haven't really looked in to deduplication but I have used VM Explorer to restore a guest and it worked pretty flawlessly. –  joeqwerty May 19 '11 at 12:43

Another option would be to move to vSphere Essentials Plus and get their built-in Data Recovery file/image-level backup (and vMotion, etc.).

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We use this with commvault simpana, and it's very good. I'd still want to be backing up then likes of exchange and SQL with an appropriate agent though. –  RobM Jun 5 '11 at 6:22

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