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Backups. George Hewitt BCS Teesside - 8 th Feb 2012. Where we’re going. Why backup? Key ideas Backup/restore methods Example architecture Backup media. Context. Survey of European firms: 54% had lost data or suffered systems downtime in past 12 months

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George Hewitt

BCS Teesside - 8th Feb 2012

Where we re going

Where we’re going

  • Why backup?

  • Key ideas

  • Backup/restore methods

  • Example architecture

  • Backup media



  • Survey of European firms:

    • 54% had lost data or suffered systems downtime in past 12 months

    • 74% were ‘not very confident’ they could fully restore their networks

    • Most common cause of data loss/downtime was hardware failure

Why backup

Why backup?

  • Mitigate risk of downtime

    • Hardware failure, natural disasters etc

  • Mitigate risk of data loss

    • User/software error (including malice!) or corruption

  • How expensive is downtime/data loss to you?

  • A backup infrastructure will form part (or all) of a DR/BC architecture

Key metrics

Key Metrics

  • Recovery Time Objective(desired)

  • Recovery Time Capability(current)

  • Recovery Point Objective

  • Retention period (D/W/M)

  • An idea of what you consider unacceptable downtime will guide you towards what sort of DR/BC architecture you need

What are not backups

What are not backups?

  • RAID

  • Clustering / NLB / other HA

  • VM snapshots

  • System restore

  • Outlook PST on local machine

  • Shadow copies?

Types of backup

Types of backup

  • Full backup

  • Incremental – changes since last backup

  • Differential – changes since last full

  • Synthetic full

  • Continuous data protection

Types of restore

Types of Restore

  • Granular Restore Technology

    • Aka File/Object Level Restore

  • Bare-metal restore

Traditional backup architecture

Traditional backup architecture

Semi virtualised architecture

Semi-virtualised architecture

Over LAN

Over LAN

Traditional backups

Traditional Backups

  • Benefits

    • Single management interface

    • Direct control over backup selection lists

  • Downsides

    • No reduced costs (backup agent on each VM)

    • Slow to backup (all traffic over LAN)

    • Slow to restore (especially baremetal!)



Over LAN

Vm snapshots

VM Snapshots

Vm disk level backup

VM Disk-level backup

VM Host & Storage

Backup staging storage

LAN or Storage Network

  • LAN

  • LAN-free

    • Over storage (FC / iSCSIetc)

    • egVCB / vStorageAPI

  • BackupExec VCB, Quest vRanger, Veeam

Interesting extras

Interesting Extras!

  • Changed Block Tracking

    • Improve incremental VMware backups

    • Backup software requests changed blocks since last backup

    • eg. 500GB server taking 2hrs, now only 40mins!

  • Active Block Mapping

    • Only blocks in use by the VM are backed up

    • Software interrogates filesystem (eg NTFS)

    • eg. Deleted data is ignored

Vm quiescing

VM Quiescing

  • To enable application-consistent backups (eg for SQL, Exchange)

    • Tells the OS/Application to ‘get ready’ for a backup

  • Off = crash consistent backup!

  • However – may require additional scripting depending on application

File level restore of vm

File-level Restore of VM

Restore demo

Restore Demo

Example architecture

Example Architecture

  • Medium-size business– 200 users.

    • 10 servers

    • Active Directory, Exchange, SQL, File & Print, line of business application

    • Single VM host with local storage (all servers)

    • BackupExec installed on VM but selection lists have been restricted to data only

    • Backups completed to tape

    • RTO is 1hr. Current RTC is 2 days

Example architecture1

Example Architecture

  • Provision new physical backup server with disk staging

  • Use appropriate software to perform VM-level backups for most servers

  • BackupExec to duplicate VM backups to tape

  • Use BackupExec agents for Exchange Mailboxes and SQL server

  • Invest in HA SAN or host replication

A note on sql

A note on SQL

  • Precise method used to backup depends on your RTO/RPO (and size/number of databases)

  • SQL Agent Backup Jobs can be an option (backup to flat-file) for small number of databases

Backup media

Backup Media

Disk to disk


  • NAS / Disk shelves

  • Advantages

    • fast!

  • Disadvantages

    • expensive (consider retention period)

    • physical protection (onsite/offsite?)

Disk to tape


  • eg LTO Ultrium 3/4/5

    • LTO5 native capacity 1.5TB (2:1 compression ‘possible’)

  • Advantages

    • High-capacity, long life (15-30 years archival)

  • Disadvantages

    • slow (sequential access)

Disk to cloud


  • ie. Backup to a 3rd party over the Internet

  • Costs can be attractive

  • But… consider

    • Size of dataset (and/or, speed of link)

    • Replication vs retention

    • Speed of recovery (and/or, speed of link!)

    • Bare metal restores

Disk to disk to tape


  • Disk to Disk (backup)

    • Fast – during backup window

    • Might keep <= 2wks on disk for quick restores

  • Disk to tape (duplication)

    • Slow – during working hours

    • Tapes can then be exported and safely archived offsite

Scaling it up

Scaling it up..

  • BackupExec – does not scale as well

  • Enterprise solutions

    • EgNetbackup / CommVault

    • Better multi-platform support

    • Better management of large server numbers

    • Additional features (archiving, de-duplication)

    • Integration with other products (egvRanger) still possible

Other things to consider

Other things to consider…

  • Large static datasets

    • candidate for archiving first?

  • Storage of backup data

    • Retention periods

    • Offsite

    • ‘Critical spares’

Other things to consider1

Other things to consider…

  • Remember – a backup is only as good as the restore

  • Backups may sit alongside other processes such as replication

  • Have a DR strategy and test it!



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