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Can Backup Exec be installed & run from a VM?

Created: 30 Apr 2013 • Updated: 22 May 2013 | 6 comments
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I have been tasked with redesigning our backup systems and I'm looking for a little guidance.  We have our central Backup Exec 2010 R3 server in our data center backing up to an Exagrid system and several Backup Exec servers in our remote sites on servers which backup to varying types of LTO.  Some are single tape drives and some are autoloaders.  All the remote sites are running different versions of BE ranging from version 10d to 2012.  I have suggested building out a completely new Backup Exec server in our data center due to the fact that our current server is also running vSphere and is the central manager for our ESX environment.  We have a spare blade server but I'd hate to waste something that powerful just for backups so I'm wondering if it is against best practices to run Backup Exec 2012 from a VM inside our ESX environment?  In other words I'd like to build out a Windows 2008 R2 x64 virtual server on our ESX environment and install Backup Exec on it and run it from there, rather than using a whole blade server or having to order an additional server to install it on.  Additionally I'd like to install the CASO option on this server and have it be the hub for all the remote sites.  Any help, advice, criticism, etc., would be greatly appreicated.

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CraigV's picture


yes, it's against Symantec's recommendation to run BE on a VM, especially when connecting to tape drives. VMware would use SCSI pass-through, and while you can connect the library to a VM using this, it becomes a nightmare to troubleshoot once something goes wrong...I've been down this road and it becomes a mess.

What happens if you need to Vmotion the VM? You need to physically disconnect the library, Vmotion the VM, and connect to the other host for instance.

I suppose backing up to disk would be OK, but to get support from Symantec, you'd need to prove the same issue you were experiencing could be replicated in a physical environment.

Running a VM with BE and the CASO option installed is definitely doable, and something I've done. My CASO never ran jobs so I was in the clear and it works well.


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shamee's picture

Hi Craig,

If i want to use this server as CASO (only CASO role for managing other BE servers), what items do i need to select in custom installation? Can i select only CASO under Enterprise Server Option or any other items?


teiva-boy's picture

I believe SCSI Pass-through has been deprecated, or at least improved now in vSphere...  That said, if tape out is what you need in the end, BE as a VM is a bit limiting as CraigV mentioned.

Outside of that, if you are just backing up to disk, even better to an OST device like the Exagrid, I think it's a perfect opportunity to virtualize your BE server.

I would strongly recommend that your ESXi hosts do have adequate bandwidth within it.  Multiple GbE links and/or 10GbE.  Since you will be moving so much data in and out of the backup server.

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

GLND's picture

Thanks so much for the quick replies.  That information is extremely helpful and it was definitely something I hadn't considered.  I do have a follow up question regarding both your comments.  So the primary server that I'll be running CASO on is going to be the primary backup server in the data center, which I'm pretty sure both of you were clear on that.  I can see what CraigV is referring to, in that trying to connect an actual tape drive to a VM would be a hassle due to vMotion, etc.  I completely agree that would potentially cause all sorts of issues and I'll definitely stay away from that hornet's nest.  However, teiva-boy mentioned that it should work without issue if utilizing an OST device such as ExaGrid.  So I guess what I'm getting at is, CraigV, would you agree that utilizing a VM for Backup Exec 2012 w/CASO when backing up to an OST device would be okay?  Just trying to get a general consensus before I make a final decision.  Thanks again to you both for your valued input.  smiley

And by the way teiva-boy, I'm fairly certain we do have enough bandwidth on the ESXi hosts but I'll be certain to verify that as well prior to making any decisions.

CraigV's picture

...I mentioned that having a virtual media server backing up to disks shouldn't be an issue, and backing up to an ExaGrid should be fine too...I personally wouldn't have an issue with this, but that's my opinion!


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pkh's picture

Before deciding use a VM, you should seriously consider the support ramifications of using an alternative configuration.

Here is a quote from the document referenced earlier

 If you experience a Problem with the Licensed Software in an Alternative Configuration or if your issue deals with script that was not developed by Symantec or an authorized consulting partner, then we may ask you to reproduce the Problem in a Supported Configuration environment. Please note we have no obligation to attempt to resolve Problems that cannot be replicated in a Supported Configuration. However, if the Problem can be replicated in a "Supported Configuration," we will investigate the Problem in that Supported Configuration and attempt to resolve it. If the Problem cannot be replicated in a Supported Configuration, then we may elect not to work on that Problem.

There are other discussions where Symantec warns against the use of a VM when dedup is involved because of the high CPU and RAM requirements.  I am not sure whether the use of an OST device will lessen these requirements.