First, for those who are not familiar with vDP (vSphere Data Protection), it is a backup and recovery tool designed for VMware environments. It utilizes EMC Avamar technology to provide superior de-duplication for all virtual machines backed-up by vDP. To provide further protection, vDP allows you to replicate backup data between vDP virtual appliances. Therefore you can provide additional protection to your backup data by replicating it offsite to another vDP appliance. There are two versions of vDP, the first being simply vDP and the other being vDP Advanced. I will talk primarily about the Advanced version in this article.
vDP does not require an agent in the guest OS to perform backup and recovery operations. It utilizes VMware Tools to quiesce the OS for OS consistent backups. For those applications that require application-consistent backups such as Exchange, SQL and SharePoint, vDP provides you with an agent that is installed in the guest OS to quiesce these applications to provide application-consistent backups. In the past, we have only supported the backup of virtual Exchange, SQL and SharePoint environments. Since we’re utilizing an agent to backup Exchange, SQL and SharePoint, there is no reason why we couldn’t also backup these same applications running on a physical server. You can now backup all your VMware virtual machines as well as Exchange, SQL and SharePoint even if those workloads are running on a physical server.
It is always a good idea to verify that you’re backups are working correctly. You want to have confidence that data can be restored successfully if the need ever arises. vDP also provides automated backup verification. A backup verification job can be created that will restore data automatically after a backup in a sandbox environment. From a restore perspective, vDP Advanced gives you the ability to restore the entire VM, an application or a particular file. An end user can restore an individual file using nothing more than a web browser. Finally, you want to backup vCenter Server with vDP but are concerned with having to restore vCenter Server… without vCenter Server. vDP allows you to restore directly to host without the need for vCenter Server.
I mentioned Replication earlier however it goes beyond simply replicating from vDP appliance to vDP Appliance. Since vDP utilizes EMC Avamar technology, you can replicate from vDP Appliance to a physical EMC Avamar grid. Think of utilizing a service provider to replicate your backup data to a provider using EMC Avamar. From a topology standpoint, vDP supports one to one, one to many and many to one. This could be useful if you have remote offices that need backup and recovery services with the need to replicate the backup data to a single site used for disaster recovery. And since we’re using EMC Avamar, vDP uses changed-block tracking technology. Therefore only changes to the VM are backed up daily (after the initial backup) and only the changes are replicated to a secondary site therefore helping save on the bandwidth needed between locations. Finally, vDP also provides you with the ability to utilize Data Domain as a backup data target. Why is this important? First, you can point multiple vDP appliances at the Data Domain and de-duplication will now take place across all vDP appliances instead of being limited to the data backed up by the appliance itself. Throw in Data Domain Boost and you can reduce the amount of data transferred over the network significantly as only unique bits are sent across the network to the Data Domain appliance.
From a scalability perspective, you can deploy up to 10 vDP appliances per vCenter Server. The de-duplicated backup capacity of a single vDP Advanced appliance is 8TB and the maximum number of virtual machines that can be backed up to a single vDP Advanced appliance is 400 VMs. Most customers will exhaust the backup capacity before reaching the maximum number of VMs.
I hope you enjoyed my first article on Virtual Insanity. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. Below are a few useful links including a helpful answer to the question, what about backup to tape?