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Exchange 2010 backup to appliance over backup network

Created: 04 Apr 2013 • Updated: 04 Apr 2013 | 9 comments

Among others, I've reviewed the technote Marianne vdB mentioned in this post.  But I must not be understanding the process properly.  I have a new appliance (5220) just for Exchange backups. This is the first non-Windows backup device in my environment.

The Exchange 2010 DAG member servers have the client installed. I just upgraded my existing Windows Server 2008 master and media servers just yesterday.  The appliance is running as well.  

Originally the appliance was configured to only communicate with the mailbox servers over the backup network.  The backup job was ending with status 26 until I added the prod IP for the DAG to the appliance.  Now the appliance can successfully query the DAG but the data will only move over the prod network. 

The DAG only has a prod IP. The Exchange team says a second IP cannot be added to the DAG.  I have NIC's configured on each mailbox server for the backup network.  Host file entries for the appliance and its backup network IP are on the mailbox servers.

What am I missing?

Operating Systems:

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RLeon's picture

Saw your thread and followed you here.

What am I missing?

This whole lot:

And also this Microsoft TechNet article:

In short, since Exchange 2010 DAG no longer officially support backup-networks (unlike Exch2003/2007), you will have to implement alot of workarounds if you want the backup traffic to go through the backup-network, regardless of the backup software being used. (So this is not just a NetBackup problem.)

If you follow the workaround configurations from the two links, make sure you completely understand every step, how it works and why it is done the way it is.
It will work, and the backup traffic will go through your backup-network, but unless you fully understand how and why the workaround works, the whole setup will be a nightmare to admin, maintain and troubleshoot. OH lawd the troubleshoot.

General best practices dictate that, if you need to implement a workaround for something to work, Stop. Just do it the proper way.

I would personally recommend just backing up your DAG via the production network, which is the Microsoft official supported way.
If you are worried that the backup traffic might affect the Mailbox servers' production network performance, you can configure NetBackup to only backup from the passive dbs to mitigate this effect.
(Only mitigate, because if a server running passive dbs also runs other active dbs, then they are still affected.)

Maurice Byrd's picture

Thanks RLeon.

I had already tried the steps in the technet post.  So either I'm not doing it right or there are other configuration issues.  

And where are the posts from folks who have successfully implemented a backup network for Exchange 2010 using an appliance?

RLeon's picture

For NetBackup, you should follow the Symantec technote (first link) instead of the MS TechNet post.

The MS TechNet post is just to give you a reference to the fact that what you are trying to do is not really supported by Exchange 2010, but there can be many "workarounds", all non-standard.

Also, if you reread the MS TechNet post, it does not exactly apply to your enviornment, which means you shouldn't have followed it anyway.
In your original post, you said that the your Nbu servers do not have network visibility to the production network. The MS TechNet method relies on the fact that the backup server has visibility to both the production and backup network.

If you go through the Sym technote again, you should realise that it does not recommend the MS TechNet's method of relying on DNS because "it would affect the Exchange users whose traffic should not be on the backup network".
Instead, it recommends implementing this tweak by only using hosts files.

Depending on your environment, you can either follow the Hostname Resolution Modification Method, or the Required Interface Method in the technote.

If you insist on backing up your DAG via a backup network using any of these workarounds, don't forget that the restore procedures will also need to be tweaked/changed.

I still do not recommend backing up DAG over a backup network. The workarounds look like crude duct tape solutions that make an otherwise standardised hostname resolution environment... unstandardised; which in itself could lead to all sorts of other problems - technical or not.

Good luck.

Maurice Byrd's picture

Thanks RLeon. I think you may have misread what I submitted earlier. Maybe I'm having a bad week but your response seems a bit snarky.

I tested both methods as best I could in my environment. Granted I couldn't modify the DNS entries for Exchange.  Neither method worked for me.  Maybe other folks will have better luck in their environments. Though I've still not found an online post where someone indicates they were successful. 

I'm going back to the drawing board with Symantec and our VAR to determine how best to utilize the appliance for backing up Exchange.  There were two major selling points for the appliance - 1) moving the backup data off the production NetApp filers and 2) the ability to move the backup traffic to a dedicated network. 

Bottom line is I think we will have to come up with a different approach. 

RLeon's picture

I am sorry to hear that it came across that way. I can only tell you that it was not my intention.

What I did intend to convey, was that I would not want to be asked to implement this for I would not touch this idea with the longest pole; and I certainly would not wish this task to befall on anyone.

Going back to the original thread, I did mistake you for the thread's creator, and I applied his situation to your case, my bad.

Certain types of backups - such as file level backups and MS SQL application level backups - can indeed be done entirely on a dedicated backup network, with full vendor support and NetBackup support.
Other types of backups - such as Exchange DAG and Sharepoint farms - do not have support from one or both parties for this kind of backup methods.

Perhaps it would have been better if I had also offered some ideas on "a different approach".

Since the 5220 can be used as a FT Media Server, you might want to consider trying out SAN Client. (I.e., client to send backup traffic via FC SAN to the media server.)

From the Nbu OS compatibility list:
* SAN client does not support the following types of backup:
- MS SharePoint
- Enterprise Vault
- Exchange DAG or CCR backups through a passive node of an Exchange cluster
- All other Application and DB Agents are supported with the SAN Client.

I have not tried it, but the above seems to imply that SAN Client mode would work if you backup from the active nodes in a DAG. However, I must add that I don't think I have seen a post where someone has successfully configured SAN Client with Exchange DAG.

Another possibility is to simply enable client-side-deduplication on all DAG nodes. This is my recommended option.

Maurice Byrd's picture

RLeon it's cool... thanks for your suggestions.  

I found out that separate from my efforts, that the Exchange admins had worked with NetApp to setup Snap Manager for Exchange. So I was able to convince the stakeholders that we needed to go a different direction. Now I'll be using the appliance to capture the snaps SM is creating.  This way I'll be able to keep the backup traffic off of the prod network and pull the data directly from the filer via NDMP.

RLeon's picture

No worries, it's good to hear you've found a solution. Let us know how it goes.

Maurice Byrd's picture

It took some doing, but we have an NDMP backup configured to capture the snaps created by Snap Manager. The traffic flows over a dedicated 10Gb fiber network and is pulled directly from the NetApp filers. Now the backups complete in 1/8 of the time as before. 

RLeon's picture

Glad to hear it worked out. Hopefully we will be able to do the same using NetBackup Replication Director soon.

If this slide from a Sym Vision 2012 presentation is anything to go by, then we should have this feature in the version after 7.6. (VMware Exchange gets it sooner.)

Shouldn't be too many years from now.

Replication Director Peek.jpg