VirtuCache interoperability with Veeam, Zerto, Commvault, Avamar, AppAssure. Nakivo, Actifio and Tivoli backup and replication software

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Backup software vendors use a few different types of architectures and VMware APIs. Additional configuration might be required in VirtuCache to accelerate backups, taking care that the backup data doesn’t evict ‘hot’ VM production data and that backups are application-consistent even when VirtuCache is in Write-Back mode.

  1. Backup software using VADP (VMware APIs for Data Protection) APIs: Veeam, Avamar, Commvault, Nakivo, Unitrends, Actifio use VADP APIs, and their backup software is typically run in VMs. The section below lists the different possible configurations for these backup software, and if any additional configuration is required in VirtuCache for each backup software configuration option.
    1. Backup software configured in Direct Storage Access Mode: If backup VMs are configured to read/write VM data directly over the storage network from/to the storage appliance, then this activity bypasses the VMware hypervisor. In this case, the backup administrator will need to insert Virtunet’s pre- and post- backup processing scripts. The pre-processing script moves all VMs to Write-Through mode before the backup job starts, ensuring that all writes from cache are flushed to the storage appliance before the backup job starts, and the post-processing script will run after the backup job is complete and it will move the VMs back to their original caching policy [More details on how to deploy these scripts is here ]. In addition, the backup management and proxy VMs should be in caching policy ‘Backup-VM’. For example, Veeam calls this backup architecture ‘Direct SAN Access Transport Mode’.
    2. Network Mode: In this case, the backup software initiates a VMware snapshot of the VMs to be backed up, then these snapshots are copied to the backup proxy over a LAN to be subsequently backed up to the target location. In this case, apply the caching policy called ‘Backup-VM’ to the management and proxy VMs. For example, Veeam calls this backup configuration ‘Network Transport Mode’.
    3. Hot Add VMDKs to Backup Proxy VMs: In this configuration, the backup software uses VMware’s SCSI HotAdd capability that attaches the VMDKs (after snapshot) of the VMs to be backed up to the backup proxy VMs and then VM data is read/written directly from/to the datastore, instead of going through the network. In this case, apply the caching policy called ‘Backup-VM’ to the management and proxy VMs. For example, Veeam calls this configuration ‘Virtual Appliance Transport Mode’.

Also, in any of these above configuration options, some backup software give you the option of using either VMware snapshots or storage controller snapshots. If storage appliance based snapshots are used then in addition to applying the ‘Backup-VM’ caching policy to the backup VMs, the backup administrator will need to insert Virtunet’s pre- and post- backup processing scripts from within the backup software. The pre-processing script moves all VMs to Write-Through mode before the backup job starts, ensuring that all writes are flushed to the storage appliance, before the backup job starts, and the post-processing script will run after the backup job is complete and will move the VMs back to their original caching policy. [More details on deploying these scripts are here ]

The ‘Backup-VM’ policy ensures the following:

– VirtuCache can handle the VADP related VMware snapshots that are used for backing up VMs. Using VMware snapshots is the most common configuration in various backup software.

– Backups utilize cache-footprint of the VMs being backed up if present (consistent and fast)

– Backup data does not push out VM production ‘hot-data’ (footprint) from the cache

– Supports Veeam proxy VMs that are larger than 32 TBs. When multiple VMDKs of VMs to be backed up are hot added to a Veeam backup proxy, the size of the Veeam proxy VM can grow very large.

Though VirtuCache supports all backup software configurations, our recommended configuration for your backup software is to use VMware snapshots and ‘Hot Add’ the snapshots to Proxy VMs (Veeam calls this mode ‘Virtual Appliance’ Transport mode).  VirtuCache ‘Backup-VM’ policy will accelerate backups when the backup software is configured in this mode.

  1. Backup software using vSCSI APIs: No additional configuration is required in VirtuCache. Zerto is an example of backup software that uses vSCSI APIs.
  2. vSphere Replication and VMware SRM: No additional configuration is required in VirtuCache.
  3. Agent-based backup software like Solarwinds, Carbonite, IBM Tivoli, and Dell AppAssure: No additional configuration is required in VirtuCache since these software packages deploy an agent in each VM and hence any backups initiated by these software are in the VMware context. As a general rule, if the backup is happening using an agent installed in VMs, then no additional configuration is required in VirtuCache.
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