Hyper-V Backup and Recovery: DPM: Back me up, I'm going in...

Author by Nathan Lasnoski

Are you wondering how to protect your virtual environment?  How are you protecting your applications?  Do you have one-too-many backup tools?  Are you sick of swapping tapes to get yesterday's file back, or dealing with a backup tool that deals with disk the way it deals with tapes? If you use Hyper-V, you should absolutely use Data Protection Manager 2010.  Here's how it fits in to key infrastructure questions: "I have too many backup tools?" Data Protection Manager can backup almost anything Microsoft has, including:
  • Hyper-V virtual machines
  • Active Directory / System States
  • File Servers
  • Exchange
  • SharePoint
  • SQL
  • Dynamics AX 2009
  • SBS 2008
  • Workstations (XP through 7)
  Using a single backup tool for all of these workloads makes for:
  • Easier management of backups
  • Backup storage efficiency
  • Single interface for backup and recovery
  • Centralized reporting and management
  • Cost efficiencies, especially when used with the System Center Management Suite
  "How do I backup my virtual machines? Data Protection Manager can protect Hyper-V virtual machines using VSS based live backups.  The capabilities include:
  • Backup and recovery of virtual machines and their settings to original or different hosts
  • Recovery of files from within VHDs
  • Replication of virtual machines to other sites using DPM's built-in replication
  • Protection of virtual machines at any recovery interval you desire
  "Should I use disk, tape, or something else?" Data Protection Manager supports many different storage types.  Typically, you'll start with disk, as DPM is principally built to effectively use disk resources for short and long term storage.  This includes benefits like single instance storage, block level change management, and calendar based recovery. In DPM the disk based storage ends up being the source for 99% of recoveries, with a tape being only used in rare instances.  This is because (1) DPM handles disk very efficiently and (2) large disk storage is becoming very affordable.  As an example, I've been using the Dell R510, which can hold 24 TB of disk for DPM for usually under 9k.  That's pretty amazing when you consider the amount of storage necessary to protect a mid sized business.  That model easily scales to serve enterprise storage as well. If you want a secondary protection mechanism, you can duplicate the DPM data to another DPM server, or even a third or fourth DPM server.  If you want something other than DPM, you can duplicate your storage to tape, or a cloud based storage solution.  DPM supports what you'd expect, such as tape encryption and tape lifecycles. "What about the cost?" The cool thing is that DPM 2010 is included in the System Center Management Suite.  If you're deploying Hyper-V you likely would have purchased this suite, as it give you Virtual Machine Manager, Operations Manager, and DPM. The neat thing is that it is licensed on a host level, rather than per VM.  I've found this significantly decreases costs vs. even the standalone backup solution. http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/management-suites.aspx "What if I only have one or two Hyper-V hosts?" I've had this question come up a lot.  There are many companies virtualizing even small environments.  So, how do we protect them?  If you only have a couple Hyper-V hosts, I've found that using Windows Server Backup on the host system is a pretty reasonable solution.  You can configure Windows Server Backup to make a nightly copy of all the VMs to a removable storage device, or another Hyper-V host. Here's how you configure it: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/958662 In this case, you'll still need to run secondary backups inside the VMs, but it provides a good way to allow for VM recovery on another Hyper-V host.  You'll need to make sure your configurations are documented, as you'll need to mount the VHDs within a newly created VM. If you have the opportunity, you could also setup DPM in a VM or on a utility server to provide some of these capabilities to even a small environment. For more information on the upcoming DPM 2012, see this post: http://www.concurrency.com/blog/dpm-2012-features-and-hyper-v/ I hope this helps everyone to better understand the options around backup in a Hyper-V environment.  Happy recovery! Nathan Lasnoski
Author

Nathan Lasnoski

Chief Technology Officer