I work in a small company which is getting bigger all the time. We have out grown our old backup system (a Small NAS box and Sugar Sync) and would like to move to something better...

We currently have 3 servers, 2 Win2k3 boxes and a 2k8 box. One of our servers is running SVN with all our code on it, and this is the most important machine to get backed up. We also have SQL boxes, Oracle instances and MySQL installed too...

I have been looking at offsite backup plans, and have been thinking about the following:

  • Take all the machines we currently have and Virtualize them using the P2V tools in System Center Virtual Machine Manager.
  • Have the VHDs stored on a Nexenta or Solaris machine using ZFS and iSCSI.
  • Using ZFS's snapshot tools, we can take a snapshot of the instances while they are running and back them up to Amazon S3 or similar. then just backup the changes between nights.
  • if a machine fails, just replace the physical box and add it to the HyperV pool. copy the VMs on (copy is not the right word, given the files are stored on iSCSI, but hopefully you know what i mean).
  • As long as the SAN is built correctly, we should be ok for a disk failure (ZRAID or ZRAID2)
  • since everything is backed up to S3, if we loose the office (Fire, Meteor Strike, Aliens, etc) we can get our data back (as long as Amazon still exists).

What do you think? Is this a feasible solution?

PS: advantage i just though of using ZFS: Data Deduplication should (in theory) mean we store less on the iSCSI box. If we upgrade all our machines to 2k8R2, we only need to store one real copy of it... the rest are de-duplicated...

  • This is sort of how VMware Site Recovery Manager works. They tie into your storage system to have it create snapshots that are replicated to your failover site. They thought it was important to somehow quiesce the VMs before doing the snapshots though, so it might not be safe to implement your solution without something similar. – JakePaulus Aug 3 '11 at 15:06
  • don't really want to start a flame war, but think we will be staying away from VMWare after all their shenanigans in the last few weeks with their Virtual Memory Tax... But i will look into it... Thanks. – TiernanO Aug 3 '11 at 15:44
  • I definitely wasn't advocating you use vmware. I was just suggesting that you might look into a method to pause your VMs while you take the snapshot to ensure your data is consistent...or determine for sure that it isn't necessary. – JakePaulus Aug 3 '11 at 16:20
  • You should keep in mind that taking snapshots of databases will lead to inconsistent databases which may not come back online after a restore unless you are VERY careful or VERY lucky. – mrdenny Aug 3 '11 at 17:17
  • @mrdenny: Good point... Might just backup the DBs to an iSCSI device and back that up... – TiernanO Aug 4 '11 at 9:49

Take a look at MS Data Protection Manager if you're already using SC and planning on Hyper-V. It's a pretty good backup product. I personally run this and a secondary offsite copy of it to backup my primary DPM server. It works pretty well if you've got a heavy investment in Microsoft already.

Taking a SAN snapshot of a running VM particularly with a DB running can be questionable at best. Without quiescing the VM you'd run the risk of trashing your DB. Basically the snapshot would be as if you pulled the plug on the server. It might work but it might not. It would depend on your requirements whether that would be acceptable or not.

  • thanks for the tip. Will look into it. I know DPM does offsite backup, but who is the cloud provider for them, and how do you enable it? This is something i still havent figured out yet... – TiernanO Aug 11 '11 at 13:41
  • IronMountain supposedly integrates directly with DPM. I hadn't looked too closely into it because I imagine it's pricey. I have my DPM server at another site of ours so I didn't have to look into it. There's another partner as well but I can't think of them off hand. – Tim Aug 17 '11 at 19:48
  • I found the following article (tinyurl.com/DPM-and-Dropbox-by-Yegor)[translated from Russian] which shows you how to setup DPM using something called FileStreamer (Virtual Tape drive) to backup to DropBox... Seems like it could be tweaked to use something else... FileStreamer seems a bit expensive for our needs, but the idea is correct... Now to do more research... – TiernanO Aug 18 '11 at 9:39
  • +1 -- I highly, highly recommend the DPM for backup and DPM Cloud Backup through Iron Mountain (actually now it's run by Autonomy and soon HP). We've been backing up our DPM server and 6 Win2k8R2 servers running various services (Exchange 2k10, SQL 2k8R2, file server, dc, etc) and it's been flawless. Pricing is not cheap at around $1.25/GB (especially when compared to Amazon), but it's true enterprise offsite backup. You get 90 days retention standard and in the event of a disaster, they'll ship you all your data on a NAS to restore from. – John Galt Sep 1 '11 at 16:42
  • DPM is looking good... Looking at using a Virtual Tape Library with DPM, and backing up the "Tapes" off site... We are looking at a provider here in Ireland which do backups offsite... First backup is done onsite, and the drive shipped to their data center. then its incremental backups from there. – TiernanO Sep 6 '11 at 9:06

We are a small company with a small VMware ESXi cluster (2 hypervisors with about 15 VM's, both Windows and Linux) and use Veeam Backup & Replication to backup all virtual machines. We currently backup daily to a large local disk and copy that backup file to tape weekly for off-site. Another supported method is to write directly to a remote Veeam server (either your own or from a provider). Recently Veeam has also added 'cloud'-backup so you can backup directly to various cloud storage, like S3, Azure, etc.

We're pretty happy with it. Efficient, compressed, de-duplicated and fast. There are multiple levels of recovery possible, such as full-VM, virtual disk, individual file or even individual records (for Exchange and AD). For fast recovery one can boot the VM directly from the backup storage (with reduced I/O performance) and move to production storage later. A downside is that Veeam's limited to virtual machines. VMware and HyperV are supported, but no physical servers.

  • Thanks @martijn that looks interesting. And iirc Veeam works on hyper-v now too... Will look into it. – TiernanO Aug 13 '14 at 12:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.