ExaGrid Powered vLab – Prod Testing

25o83JsV_400x400Veeam Virtual Lab is a very powerful feature for your Production backup strategy. Straight out-of-the-box, you can cover many of your backup validation tests; but, with simple scripting, you can tailor your testing to suit your backup strategy.

On this blog post, we will learn more about Veeam Virtual Lab customization and scripting to help you test and validate any backup strategy.

Last week, I was involved in a POC where the customer wanted to backup a virtual machine. He then wanted to run a SureBackup job to ensure that the backup completed successfully. Of course, this test is straightforward using Veeam Virtual Labs and SureBackup; but the customer also wanted to achieve the following tasks during the testing:

  • Backup a Linux Virtual Machine.
  • SureBackup the backup.
  • Configure a Samba Server on the backed up VM.
  • Mount the Samba Share from the Veeam Backup and Replication (VBR) server and check it.

To achieve two of these tasks is very simple, but the other two tasks required a little extra effort. They needed a simple script that configured and mounted the Samba shares.

I will describe here what I did to get what our customer needed.

POC Architecture

Before we start, let’s take a look at the environment we will be using during this POC:

vLabScripting

The POC Lab we will be using throughout this blog post consists of a Veeam Backup server connected to a VMware vCentre version 6.7. The Backup job is targeting an ExaGrid backup repository.

The Veeam vLab will mount the backup from the ExaGrid to a virtual lab. It then runs the script to configure the Samba server, and mounts the share to the VBR server Z: drive.

Configure the vLab

To start our POC, we create a job to back up the intended virtual machine; Linux Ubuntu, in this example. I targeted the backup to the ExaGrid backup appliance. After configuring the backup job, we must configure the vLab that will be used during the SureBackup job. So let’s quickly go through the vLab configuration.

From the “Backup Infrastructure – SureBackup” add a virtual lab starting with the name of the vLab, then assign the host, and the datastore.

At the proxy configuration stage, ensure that the option Use proxy appliance in this virtual lab (recommended) is checked. Press configure to configure the Network configuration of the proxy appliance.

Note: I prefer using fixed IP addresses.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.08.13 am

Next, we select the radio button for Advanced Single-host (manual configuration).

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.12.31 am

Keep the default configuration at the Isolated Network.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.14.33 am.png

At the network configuration stage, we modify the default IP address for the vNIC to be the same as the VM Production subnet default gateway, and the Masquerade IP subnet set to 192.168.255.x. Uncheck the Enable DHCP service on this interface.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.22.18 am.png

The last step is to configure the static mapping; we must mount the shares for the VM to the VBR server. We have to configure a static mapping to the backup VM.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 10.31.54 am.png

 

Configure the Application Group

Before we move to the fun part. we have to prepare the application group to enjoy the wonder and the magic of the vLab. To achieve the outcome we described at the beginning of this blog post, we have to create a simple script that runs when the vLab starts.

Script #1: LinuxCust.cmd

This script is the main script where we use the plink application to execute the Linux commands to configure the Samba share. It is included with the Veeam installation package and is installed under C:\Program Files\Veeam\Backup and Replication\Backup\Putty. Also in this script, we mount the shares in the VBR server as Z: drive.

echo yes | c:\plink.exe root@{Isolated VM Access IP Address - 192.168.255.44} -pw {Password} -m c:\LinuxCom.txt 
timeout 120
cd\
net use z: "\\192.168.255.44\Anonymous share" 
exit 0

Script #2: LinuxCom.txt

In this script, we include all the Linux commands to configure the Samba server.

echo [Anonymous share] >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo comment = Home Directories >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo path = / >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo browseable = yes >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo writable = yes >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo read only = No >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo public = yes >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo guest only = yes >> /etc/samba/smb.conf
echo force user = nobody >> /etc/samba/smb.conf

service smb start

After creating the scripts, create a new application group under Backup Infrastructure – SureBackup. Provide a name for the new application group. Press next.

On the next window, add the VM to be included in the application group. Press Edit.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.16.44 am

Under the Test Scripts, point to the main script. In this example, it is LinuxCust.cmd

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.18.28 am.png

Configure the SureBackup Job

The last step is to configure the SureBackup job, where we can include the application group we have just configured.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.22.44 am.png

Link the Backup Job.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.23.21 am.png

Next, schedule the Surebackup job.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.23.43 am.png

Benefits of ExaGrid Repository

Virtual labs are an easy way to use backup data for verification in an isolated environment, data extraction, reporting, etc.  You want your VLab to run with reasonable performance, but remember that reading data from the repository will put quite an IO load on the underlying storage system. Keep in mind that you are standing up part, or perhaps all, of your Production environment!  If that repository is a traditional deduplication appliance, and there are lots of reasons a dedup appliance makes sense, you are likely to become frustrated at the slow speed of execution – the appliance simply cannot rehydrate and deliver data fast enough.  A solution you could use is to stage backups on regular disks; but why add to the complexity and cost of your environment and incur the effort of constantly moving data back and forth. 

In the words of the Old El Paso girl*:  “Why don’t we have both (fast disk and deduplication)” (*with creative license). 

ExaGrid provides an industry-unique deduplication appliance that retains the last few backups in fully-hydrated form.  This way, when you run a virtual lab, or other VPower operations, you get the performance of a disk system, with the economic benefits of a deduplicating appliance. 

Also, since the Veeam Advanced Data Mover is integrated into each appliance, VMs that are part of the Virtual Lab are provisioned directly to the hypervisor, without the need for data movement via a proxy.  The end result is a system that performs just the way you want it to.

All Together

When the SureBackup job has run, you will see a Z: drive mounted on your VBR server, and you can browse the Linux Root directory to check it.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 9.43.27 am.png

Conclusion

Veeam Virtual Lab is a very powerful feature that you can use to test and confirm your backups. Straight out of the box, the feature allows you to eliminate some of your backup concerns; but with simple customization of scripts, you can add more intelligence to the backup test and configuration. The backup target the customer was using was an ExaGrid Backup target; when combined with a Veeam Virtual Lab, the backup and the Surebackup job work much faster. On the setup I showed in the screenshots on this blog, the SureBackup job took only 15 seconds before the customization testing and waiting time.

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