I wanted to give some insight into how Avamar protects VMware virtual machines. I have been using Avamar 6.0.x and most of the management and configuration from a Mac. Since the operating systems running on the Avamar servers and proxies are linux, having a terminal comes in handy. Plus the management using Avamar Administrator uses Java so it can be used on Windows, Mac or Linux. If your on a Windows system the Avamar Administrator console is a bit more attractive but offers the same functionality. The management of Avamar needs a bit of work and from the grape vine I hear the next release, which is coming soon, will fix a lot of the issues I’ve complained about in my previous post. Either way data protection and recovery with Avamar is pretty solid once you have all the pieces setup and ready but if your looking for easy, look elsewhere. PHD Virtual Backup fits the bill for easy but it only covers VM backups where Avamar can do both physical and virtual.
First, let me give a short tour of the components we’ll need to protect a VMware vSphere environment with Avamar. This only includes the components for data protect or recovery and assumes you already have the VMware vSphere environment configured with vCenter, ESX hosts, with shared storage.
As far as the Avamar Servers and Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) are concerned you only need one or the other for a single location. They are the backend that stores all the backup data. The Avamar VM Proxy is used to do image level backups and the Windows File-Level VM Proxy is used to do file-level restores from the image backups. This removes the need for backup agents in the virtual machines. This is how the environment layout would look.
I found the documentation very good and easy to follow but here are the basic step you’ll have to do in order to backup and restore VMware virtual machines.
- Setup the Avamar Server with AvFS
- Deploy and configure Avamar Image Proxy appliance
- Setup vCenter Server in Avamar
- Setup Avamar Image Proxy in Avamar
- Deploy and configure a Windows File-Level Proxy
- The Avamar Image Proxy in it’s current 6.0.x version has to be configured to protect either Windows or Linux.
- I have seen the resolve.conf not be configured properly a couple times so you may want to check them if you have issues.
- When adding the Avamar Image Proxy to Avamar don’t forget to select the VMFS datastores it should protect.
- The Avamar Image Proxy can do only one VM at a time so you will have to deploy and configure multiple proxies for parallel processing of VM backups.
- Make sure change block tracking is used which means virtual machine hardware needs to at version 7 or higher.
- Image level backups leverages vStorage APIs for Data Protection which uses snapshots so it’s important to make sure datastores have plenty of free space.
- By default, only a single vCenter Server can be added to the Avamar Server. You can override this if required but I think the max is 10.
Once all the setup is done you can start protecting the VMs for that vCenter Server which you’ll see in the Avamar Administrator as a domain with a Virtual Machines sub domain. Restores are pretty easy from the Avamar Administrator whether it’s for a single file or a full virtual machine. The documentation shows the process for both very well so I will not try to recreate it here. Image based backups with Avamar have been unmatched compared to agent backups. I see more successful backups without the open file errors from agent backups.