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Access fibre-channel tape library through RMAL?

Created: 19 Décembre 2012 • Updated: 02 Janv. 2013 | 10 comments
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We have a requirement to move our BE2010R3 installation (physical machine with fibre channel HBA) to a new virtual machine on BE2012 and I am aware that VMware ESXi does not support FC-connected robotic libraries.

If I put a simple Linux distro on a physical host with HBA connected to the SAN, can I use the Remote Media Agent for Linux to act as a gateway to the library?

I know RMAL simulates a tape library, but can it give access to a real SCSI tape library?

If this is not possible, what is the recommended way of accessing an FC tape library from inside a VM?



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l'image des Kiran Bandi

I know RMAL simulates a tape library, but can it give access to a real SCSI tape library?

Yes, it can.

From Admin guide: The Remote Media Agent for Linux (RMAL) lets you back up data from remote

computers to the following devices:
■ The storage devices that are directly attached to a Linux server.
■ A simulated tape library on a Linux server.

But, i feel moving media server to a virtual machine is not at all a good idea espesially when you have tape devices in backup infra.

l'image des pkh

No.  You cannot do this.  You cannot backup another remote machine to any devices connected to a RMAL server, unless it is another Linux machine with RALUS installed.

l'image des Kiran Bandi

Extract from Admin Guide:

You can then back up data from the Linux server or from supported remote computers to the devices that are attached to the Linux server.

RMAL supports operations for the following agents:

Agent for Windows

Agent for Mac

Agent for Oracle on Linux or Windows Servers

So, you can backup Windows, Mac, Linuc and Oracle DBs on Windows/Linux through RMAL. If you have any things other than mentioned, then you will be in trouble.

I beleive it is worth mentioning again and agian, not a good idea to move BE media server to virtual machine.

l'image des Colin Weaver

It has been passed over to the documentation teams for a reset.

This does mean RMAL should not be used as a proposed way to bypass our limitations for media servers running inside virtual machines and we therefore continue to recommend that your media server is physical and NOT virtualized.

l'image des teiva-boy

Vmware does supporrt PCI pass through, thus you can have a guest access a SCSI card or HBA to get to a tape library.  Your information is a bit outdated.  So you can virtualise a server, and access tape.  You will not however be able to vmotion that server.

Note, while possible, i've found you lose some 10-20% of the overall throughput when doing this.  Froma  performance aspect alone, 2U and 4U servers make the BEST backup platform to date.  As you can add as many additional PCI cards needed for RAID, HBA's, and Ethernet.

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."

l'image des gdhgdh


Many thanks for your considered responses - I'm just back in the office after the Christmas break and am looking over the feedback.

RMAL is not the way forward, so I'll update our design based on that - thank you for the information.

The general advice of 'don't virtualise the media server' is news to me - is there any specific advice on that?

Hope you all had a peaceful and fruitful Christmas and New Year :)



l'image des Colin Weaver

The key advice for "do not virtualize the media server" relates to hardware access of storage devices used as backup targets. We do not test or certify any passthrough technology as a target device connection. - This means SCSI, FC, SAS, USB connected drives (tape or disk) that are passed through may experience unpredictable timeouts etc that cause problems.

Storage inside a vmdk held in a datastore and (in theory) iSCSI storage should be OK.

If doing VMware backups you cannot use SAN transport mode inside a VM (not supported by VMware) however HotAdd Transport actually requires the media server to be a VM (which is probably the only reason to virtualize your media server)

Also if running deduplication because the overheards can be large against disk read/write performance, CPU and Memory requirements it is also recommended that physical harwdare is used so that the resources are not affected by sharing with other (virtual) servers.

l'image des gdhgdh

Great stuff - the advice regarding RMAL is strong enough to demand a rethink of our design, but the additional risk of support issues with an 'Alternate Configuration' provide the final nail in the coffin.

Cheers, Colin - and have a great day.