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Chapter Description

In this sample chapter from Implementing Cisco HyperFlex Solutions, you will review the HyperFlex HX Data Platform disaster recovery feature and configuration steps needed to enable replication between two HyperFlex clusters.

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Implementing Cisco HyperFlex Solutions

Implementing Cisco HyperFlex Solutions

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HyperFlex Backup

The Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform is a purpose-built, high-performance distributed file system that delivers a wide range of enterprise-class data management and optimization services. This platform redefines distributed storage technology, expanding the boundaries of hyperconverged infrastructure with independent scaling, continuous data optimization, simplified data management, and dynamic data distribution for increased data availability. This agile system is easy to deploy, manage, and scale as your business needs change, and it provides the first level of data availability. However, as with most other systems, a second layer of protection that is equally agile is recommended. HyperFlex can therefore integrate with third-party solutions such as Veeam Availability Suite, Cohesity, and Commvault.

Veeam Availability Suite

The Cisco HyperFlex system and Veeam Availability Suite solution is flexible, agile, and scalable infrastructure that is protected and easy to deploy. Building on top of the Cisco HyperFlex HX Data Platform’s built-in protection tools, Veeam Availability Suite expands data protection with local and remote backups and VM-level replication.

Veeam Availability Suite enables backup and replication of infrastructure VMs on Cisco HyperFlex clusters located in the same data center. Veeam Availability Suite, which includes the Veeam Repository, Veeam Proxy, and Veeam Backup Server, resides on a single Cisco UCS S3260 storage server, which provides up to 600 TB of raw storage capacity. Replication of the application VM is executed to a separate Cisco HyperFlex cluster.

Figure 6-24 provides a high-level view of Cisco HyperFlex with a Cisco S3260 storage server and Veeam Availability Suite and illustrates the following:

  • Replication of application VMs across Cisco HyperFlex clusters through Veeam Availability Suite

  • Backup of application VMs on a Cisco S3260 storage server

  • Management endpoints for Cisco HyperFlex, a Cisco UCS S3260 storage server, and Veeam Availability Suite


Figure 6-24 HyperFlex with Cisco S3260 Storage Server and Veeam Availability Suite Backup Solution

The Veeam Backup & Replication application operates at the virtualization layer and uses an image-based approach for VM backup. To retrieve VM data, no agent software needs to be installed inside the guest OS. Instead, Veeam Backup & Replication leverages vSphere snapshot capabilities and application-aware processing. When a new backup session starts, a snapshot is taken to create a cohesive point-in-time copy of a VM, including its configuration, OS, applications, associated data, system state, and so on. Veeam Backup & Replication uses this point-in-time copy to retrieve VM data. Image-based backups can be used for different types of recovery, including full VM recovery, VM file recovery, instant VM recovery, file-level recovery, and application item recovery.

The image-based approach allows Veeam Backup & Replication to overcome shortfalls and limitations of traditional backups. It also helps streamline recovery verification and the restoration process; to recover a single VM, there is no need to perform multiple restore operations. Veeam Backup & Replication uses a cohesive VM image from the backup to restore a VM to the required state without the necessity for manual reconfiguration and adjustment. In Veeam Backup & Replication, backup is a job-driven process in which one backup job can be used to process one or more VMs. A job is a configuration unit of the backup activity. Essentially, the job defines when, what, how, and where to back up. It indicates what VMs should be processed, what components should be used for retrieving and processing VM data, what backup options should be enabled, and where to save the resulting backup file. Jobs can be started manually by the user or scheduled to run automatically. The resulting backup file stores compressed and deduplicated VM data. Compression and deduplication are done by the Veeam proxy server.

Regardless of the backup method you use, the first run of a job creates a full backup of a VM image. Subsequent job runs are incremental; that is, Veeam Backup & Replication copies only those data blocks that have changed since the last backup job run. To keep track of changed data blocks, Veeam Backup & Replication uses different approaches, including VMware’s Changed Block Tracking (CBT) technology.

Changed Block Tracking

To perform an incremental backup, Veeam Backup & Replication needs to know which data blocks have changed since the previous job run. Figure 6-25 shows Veeam full and incremental backups.


Figure 6-25 Veeam Full and Incremental Backups

For VMware VMs with hardware version 7 or later, Veeam Backup & Replication employs VMware vSphere Changed Block Tracking (CBT), which is a native VMware feature. Instead of scanning Virtual Machine File System (VMFS), Veeam Backup & Replication queries CBT on vSphere through the VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) and gets the list of blocks that have changed since the last run of this particular job. Use of CBT increases the speed and efficiency of block-level incremental backups. CBT is enabled by default; if necessary, you can disable it in the settings of a specific backup job.

Veeam Backup & Replication offers a number of recovery options for various disaster recovery scenarios:

  • Veeam Explorer: Enables you to restore single application-specific items.

  • Instant VM Recovery: Enables you to instantly start a VM directly from a backup file.

  • Full VM recovery: Enables you to recover a VM from a backup file to its original location or to another location.

  • VM file recovery: Enables you to recover separate VM files (virtual disks, configuration files, and so on).

  • Virtual drive restore: Enables you to recover a specific hard drive of a VM from the backup file, and attach it to the original VM or to a new VM.

  • Windows file-level recovery: Enables you to recover individual Windows guest OS files (from FAT, NTFS, and ReFS).

  • Multi-OS file-level recovery: Enables you to recover files from 15 different guest OS file systems.

Veeam Backup & Replication uses the same image-level backup for all data recovery operations. You can restore VMs, VM files and drives, application objects, and individual guest OS files to the most recent state or to any available restore point.

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