A VMWare backup will protect your new virtualized environment so that you can restore the server image as quickly as possible. As a Canadian business you probably also want to keep that backup in Canada, and you’ll want both an onsite and off-site recovery method. All this is possible with some easy configuration and planning.
Onsite AND Off-site
In a business environment you want absolute protection, along with easy recovery methods. Having an onsite backup and an off-site backup gives you the advantage of both.
Your onsite backup is your first point of recovery and because that backup is contained within the same network both the backup times and the recovery times will be the fastest – something you’ll appreciate when management or staff is asking; “it is back up yet?”.
However your backup planning always needs an off-site component for disaster recovery purposes so that in the event of a full-on disaster and the loss of the use of business premises (think fire, flood, etc) you’ll be happy you also have another copy elsewhere.
Onsite VMWare Backup
Here’s some considerations when planning your onsite VMWare backup.
- You want your onsite backup to be close, and fast, but not too close
- The backup should not be contained in the same drive array or cluster. If things go south and you lose access to the array you’ve also lost your backup
- Forget about redundancies, plan on a worst case scenario.
You want to put the backup on a separate system, NAS, or SAN that will be available to your if your primary systems are down. That way you can rebuild the system and quickly pull the VM image back.
Off-site VMWare Backup
Your VMWare image is probably a few hundred gigabytes, maybe more. This is a lot of data to push out to the Internet so you need a cloud backup provider that can offer you a “seed load”.
A seed load is a way to store you first backup onto a removable drive and have that drive uploaded directly to the cloud backup server. This way you eliminate that first full backup and only need to deal with the incremental backups that follow.
You have an off-site backup available to you much faster.
Plan your scheduling times keeping in mind you are performing each VMWare backup twice. Multiple VM’s means multiple backups. Check completion times of your onsite backups first as they will be the fastest and you will probably want to be running them first. Follow up with the off-site backups and make sure the total time required fits within your time frames for availability.
Your VM is likely a critical piece of the company, so you’ll want to know everything is working. Most cloud backups offer some sort of reporting. With ours we send you an email after every backup telling you whether the backup succeeded or failed, and a log to review the details. Strange things do occur with backups periodically so under no circumstances should you just assume you’ve got it all set up and running and you don’t need to check any further. Murphy’s Law says the backup will only fail when you need it the most.
I heard a story a while back about a tech who diligently backed up every night and put the tapes in a safe. Next day he would take the next tape out in the rotation and do that days backup, and so on. Then disaster struck first thing next morning. He removed the previous nights backup from the safe, only to discover it was blank. He pulled the next one – blank too. All the tapes were blank, even though the backup system was telling him each backup was being completed successfully. The culprit? A powerful magnet on the other side of the wall where the safe was, wiping out the contents on each tape as it was put there.
As the saying goes; “Never, never assume…”
Periodically restore something, anything. You don’t need to restore it to it’s original location necessarily, but you do want to do a restore. You want to do this for two reasons: One, you know the backup is working, and two, you know and understand the restore process so you’re not trying to figure it out in the middle of a disaster when you’re stressed out.
With a little planning and scheduling you’ll sleep better, knowing that even in the event of a catastrophe you have somewhere to turn to for your solution, all is not lost.
We of course offer all the features I’ve described and so at this point I’ll blatantly promote our Cloud Backup solution, give it a try, sleep better.