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Netting Out NetBackup

NetBackup 7.1 Features - VMware Intelligent Policy (VIP)

Created: 14 Mar 2011 • Updated: 22 Jan 2013 • 10 comments
Dave High's picture
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Welcome to NetBackup 7.1! This series of blogs will provide additional information into the features of NetBackup 7.1 starting today with VMware Intelligent Policy (VIP).

Historically backups have been defined and referenced by the hostname of the physical system being protected. This has worked well when the relationship between the physical host and the operating system was a direct, one to one relationship. Backup processing impact was limited to each physical client and the biggest concern was saturating the network with backup traffic. This was easily managed by limiting the number of simultaneous client backups via a simple setting within the NetBackup policy.

Virtual machine technologies have changed this physical hardware dynamic. Dozens of operating systems (virtual machines) can now reside on a single physical (ESX) host connected to a single storage LUN with network access through a single NIC. When using traditional policy configurations, backup processing randomly occurs with no regard to the physical location of each virtual machine. As backups progress, a subset of ESX servers can be heavily impacted with active backups while other ESX systems sit idly waiting for their virtual machines to be protected.

The impact of this is that backups tend to be slower than they need to be and backup processing impact on the ESX servers tends to be random and lopsided. Standard backup policy definitions simply do not translate well into virtual environments.

The NetBackup VMware Intelligent Policy feature is designed to solve this problem and more. With VIP backup processing can be automatically load balanced across the entire virtual machine environment. No ESX server is unfairly taxed with excessive backup processing and backups can be significantly faster. Once configured, this load balancing automatically detects changes in the virtual machine environment and automatically compensates backup processing based on these changes. VIP places virtual machine backups on autopilot.

Beyond load balancing across the ESX servers, VIP offers a number of other benefits:

  • Virtual machine auto discovery - Newly introduced virtual machines can be automatically selected and protected. This includes virtual machines that have been cloned, created from template or have been migrated into the VMware environment.
  • Storage affinity - With the advent of advanced VMware storage technologies such as Storage VMotion, virtual machines can not only be moved across ESX servers but they can also be moved from datastore to datastore. Virtual machine Intelligent Policy can automatically detect this movement and adjust backup processing accordingly.
  • Protecting advanced VMware technologies - VMware has created sophisticated virtual machine technologies such as VMware high availability (HA), cluster pools, resource pools, vApps, distributed resource scheduling (DRS), VMotion and many others. Virtual machine Intelligent Policy can be configured to automatically detect and protect virtual machines based on any combination of these VMware-specific designations.
  • Virtual machine logical definitions - Virtual machines can also be automatically selected for backup by logical definitions including VMware datacenters, folders, resource pools, virtual machine power state and more. Simply associate a virtual machine to one of these attributes and it is automatically backed up. This provides the ability to automatically prioritize virtual machine backups based on a specific or mission critical VMware attribute.
  • Faster backups - By spreading the backup load evenly across the physical VMware environment backup processing can be much faster because more simultaneous backups can be safely applied without unduly impacting any physical component.

These are just a few of the selection methods that can be used to protect virtual machines. Virtual machines can be selected for backup based on over 25 different VMware attributes.

How does it work?  Before the virtual machine backup policy begins, VIP queries the vCenter server and obtains a detailed and current snapshot of the virtual machine environment. Any changes to the environment that may have occurred since the previous backup run are automatically detected. Once collected, VMware Intelligent Policy uses this information to determine which virtual machines will be protected. If a virtual machine has been added, moved or changed in any way, these changes are detected and virtual machine backups are automatically adjusted to take this new information into account. VIP automatically adjusts for any other changes that VMware technologies such as Distributed Resource Scheduling (DRS), VMotion, Storage VMotion, etc. have made to every virtual machine.

VIP also throttles and evenly distributes backup jobs across the entire ESX environment. This works for environments with either single or multiple vCenter servers. When each backup job is initiated, VIP automatically limits backups based on six different VMware objects including the vCenter server, ESX server, ESX datastore and VMware cluster.

By defining simple backup instructions, virtual machines are automatically selected and backup processing is evenly distributed across large and complex VMware environments. Backup load on each ESX server is minimized yet overall backup performance is maximized. Fewer backup servers can protect more virtual machines in shorter backup windows.

Hopefully this information on VMware Intelligent Policy has been helpful. Join us tomorrow for a look at another major NetBackup 7.1 Feature – Auto Image Replication.

Comments 10 CommentsJump to latest comment

scored_well2's picture

This blog needs an editor. The title suggests the acronym should be VIB and not VIP. Also, by putting the 'm' from VM into lower case just to support the new name of VIP, rather than VMIP, makes it all sound a little desperate.

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Dave High's picture

@Simon - Sorry about that. I have fixed it. The official name is "VMware Intelligent Policy" not "Backup".

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Shazzam's picture

If only to weed out useless responses... >:]

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Henry PAN's picture

Hi Dave,

I'm POC NBU 7.0.1. Should I upgrade to NBU 7.1?

How many users had deployed NBU 7.1?



Henry PAN

Data Storage Eng
Iron Mountain Digital
(425) 802-3975

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Dave High's picture

Hi Henry,

I always tell customers that if their environment is working, and they dont need a feature, to stick with what they have. That being said, if you are only at the POC stage, then yes, I recommend NBU 7.1. Some nice functionality that will be available should you chose to use it.

I dont have the informaiton on how many customers have deployed 7.1 however we had over 500 customers in our FA program so I would assume quite a few have upgraded. I have not seen a jump in support cases for 7.1 which means it is a very stable release.

Hope this helps.


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Roderick's picture

 Excatly what gets backed up? (the VM's .vmdk file) or the VM's OS files/folders?

Does the VM backup process require the creation of new VMware snapshots?

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qak's picture

I have same question as Roderik. is there any way to backup other than vmdk file - thanks


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SiyabongaM's picture

This sounds like a feature that would help me, we backing about +-300 vm a night, every morning there is a snopshot left behind, mean that vm is not being backed up.

Is there a guide we can follow to implement this

Thank for putting such a great post

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halo's picture

How does NetBackup dynamically determine the physical location (hostname) on which the VM to be backed up is currently running?  

The backup host is running on the mgmt cluster (ESXi), the VM to be backed up is running on another host in the prod cluster (ESXi). Is the backup host querying Virtual Center for the location of the VM? Or how is this achieved?

How does NetBackup know which VM is to be backed up through which Backup host? Does it first detect where the VM is currently running and in case it finds out the VM is running on a host in the opposite data center, the backup proxy hands off this backup task to the backup proxy in the other data center? Or is the association backup host to VM hardcoded (pre-configured)?

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Peter_E's picture

A Symantec employee has a great blog onVMware and NetBackup.  Here's a link with some helpful information.

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