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Backup Exec media server in a VMware virtual machine itself

Created: 24 Mar 2009 • Updated: 21 May 2010 | 10 comments
Anatol's picture

Hi!
I have read a lot about backing up virtual machines with Backup Exec and AVVI. But I am curious about a possibility  to run Backup exec media server itself in a VMware virtual machine. Is it supported. In Software compatibility list it is written that it has to be run in Windows enviroment. But it is not clarified there,  whether this environment should be virtual or real. Do you have any real experience of running BE itself in virtual machine? Is it supported?

Regards!

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ricdanger's picture

For sure it should be supported given that BE even has the "hot-add" option.
Hot-Add is something that you use when your proxy is inside a VM.

teiva-boy's picture

In a general sense, BE is not supported in a virtual environment.  I have to ask even as to why you want to do this?  Not dismising you, just that I have yet to hear a valid technical reason to do so.

Backup applications are some of the few types of apps that run on dedicated hardware and are not virtualized due to hardware support(tape support, VTL, etc), heavy I/O needs, and more...

That said, a dedicated server running BE, you can install VCB on this same box, and go to town with AVVI setup and configured.  


There is an online portal, save yourself the long hold times. Create ticket online, then call in with ticket # in hand :-) http://mysupport.symantec.com "We backup data to restore, we don't backup data just to back it up."

Ben L.'s picture

I would only suggest running BE in a VM for testing.  It does work in VM's, I currently run a few different instances of BE in VMWare Server(free version) and ESX with no issues.

Also, this statement: "In a general sense, BE is not supported in a virtual environment." is not true. We will support BE in a virtual environment. Just be aware that if something on the hardware/os level of either the VM or the host is not working correctly it will cause issue for BE.

If this response answers your concern, please mark it as a "solution"

bjash's picture

 You can run BE in a VM environment, but be aware that if your BE VM guest uses the same disk spindles as the other machines you are backing up, you performance will be greatly reduced.

teiva-boy's picture

Well I too run run BE in VMware, for testing only.

I know that ESX has a SCSI pass-through so it could work.  But it would seem that it's either not reliable, or a good how-to guide hasn't been made to detail how to do this.  The VMware forums talk about it a lot.

But at the same time I know someone that bought three identical servers, and tape drives.  all were setup the same with the same software...  And one of the three refused to work with the SCSI pass through.  

There is an online portal, save yourself the long hold times. Create ticket online, then call in with ticket # in hand :-) http://mysupport.symantec.com "We backup data to restore, we don't backup data just to back it up."

bjash's picture

I can vouch for that.  I had a VMWare-support SAS controller installed into an ESX host and it didn't handle the passthrough correctly.  Everything was supported, but we ended up offing the backups to a standalone servers because it was easier to work with than having to bring down the entire ESX host when we wanted to move the SAS card around.

Avram Woroch 2's picture

So I should be able to run a Dell (LSI) SAS 5/e (not PERC, not RAID, just SAS) controller, connected to an IBM SAS autoloader in a VM connected to the physical ESX host without an issue?

So far I've been able to get as far as:

* ESX saying the SAS 5e is supported
* Saying the tape should work
* Confirming that the SAS card and Drive/Library are seen in ESX
* Adding the Tape and Media LUN's to the VM (1:0 and 1:1) which auto-added a LSI SCSI controller
* Booted into the Windows VM, and it automatically found the IBM drive and added the driver
* Backup Exec v12.5 sees the drive and library

But I can't seem to change tapes, inventory, scan, rename, or write to the tapes.  I think I'm close, but need to be closer :)

CraigV's picture

Probably not. If it's a single server, no issues. You'll connect up your autoloader to your ESX server (physical), and present it to the VM, then add the device/drivers etc.
If you're running Vmotion, it won't work at all. It would Vmotion the VM server, but the hardware would be physically connected to 1 server, meaning it wouldn't carry across the hardware. You MIGHT get away with running 2 SCSI cables (1 to Server1, 1 to Server2), but I haven't done this (we have a SAN, but still use a physical server), and you'd have to test this.
Your issue currently looks like it's the way it is presented to the VM, so check that out, and also make sure you're using Symantec's drivers instead of Dell's.

Alternative ways to access Backup Exec Technical Support:

https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/blogs/alte...

DominikG's picture

actual this is supported, and you can do it.

BUT:

You will have bad performance
SCSI pass-through does not work very good (many problems / not recommended)
You are not able to attach storage devices directly (e.g. tape library)
You could use it with a VTL connected, which workes pretty fine.

I know that, because we had a customer asking for it, why I checked back with symantec presales cons.
I would not recommend to use this in a productive environment (because of performance), but for testing it is very good.

best regards

Dominik

Consultant
PMCS.helpLine Software Gruppe
www.pmcs.de

follow us on Twitter: PMCS_NBU ; PMCS_BE ; PMCS_EV

Avram Woroch 2's picture

Well at this point we're not worried about VMotion, etc, we can deal with that later.  I've come into this project late in the game, but the situation is this:

* ESX Host has a VM that connects to a 16TB iSCSI box for a single volume (wether that be multiple 2TB volumes striped together, etc, doesn't matter much). 
* The VM of course, needs to be backed up.
* We did get a Dell TL4000 4 head LTO4 tape auto loader which appears would do it just fine.  This has 4 SAS drives, 2 each connected to a SAS/iSCSI bridge.  The two iSCSI bridges each have 2 GigE iSCSI connections.  So all seems good.  Except the SAS/iSCSI bridge is limited to ~90MB/sec *per bridge* - not per iSCSI line nor per SAS line.  So 2 bridges, 180MB/sec total, 10,800MB/minute or 648,000MB/hr = 25 hr to back up.  Apparently we need it to be faster, so I'm told to try making the TL4000 connected directly to the ESX host with 2 2 port Dell(LSI) SAS 5/e controllers. 

VMware worked with me, and indicated it looks like everything I'm doing is right in terms of adding the controller, tape and library devices to the VM, the VM can see the devices, just seems to be having no real luck 'using' them.  I can see the tapes loaded in the drives, but can't change the tapes, can't quick erase, relable, write data to, etc. 

Personally, I'd like to see it done via iSCSI and just accept the performance as is and accomodate for it. 

I'd love to find some indication as to the problems and poor real-world performance of this type of setup.  It would go far towards me bringing that up as an "against" for the proposal.