Without a doubt, virtualization has transformed the way that businesses deliver application service, but this technology has also brought with it a unique set of challenges for IT administrators. Well, that’s understandable, especially if you are familiar with how complex a technology virtualization is — there are always going to be potential pitfalls. Therefore it’s always wise to avoid these pitfalls as early as one can.
Virtualization complications usually arise during the backup process due to the increased complexity of backing up and restoring servers and data. Although there are several options for backing up your virtualization environment; believe me, the process isn’t a one-way thing like backing up a physical disk. Nevertheless, if you can avoid the following six mistakes when configuring Hyper-V backups, you’ll find that the virtualization benefits greatly outweigh the added challenges.
1. Using Backup Agents In Each Virtual Machine
You may consider it wise to install a backup agent on each virtual machine (VM) in your environment. However, you should know that every backup solution consumes resources in the form of CPU and RAM. This is typically not a concern if it is in a well-provisioned server that is not being employed for virtualization. Regardless, the host machine’s resources need to be allocated among each VM (and those resources can be easily exhausted). If each VM is running its own backup system, it will inevitably impede performance.
2. Forgetting to Configure Hyper-V for Backups
In the past, the process of hosting VMs in a Windows Server environment was difficult, but Hyper-V has made it considerably easier today. However, it still doesn’t support host-level backup that works out-of-the-box. Below are some of the steps you might consider taking to achieve high Hyper-V backup performance:
- Make sure Hyper-V Integration Services is installed on each VM to enable the backup integration service.
- Ensure that all VM disks are NTFS-formatted disks.
- Enable Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on each volume that is used by a VM. In addition to this, ensure that each shadow storage volume uses the matching drive letter.
3. Poor Preparation for Windows XP and Windows 2000 Server Backups
Hyper-V was first released as a virtualization platform in 2008 with Windows Server 2008. As a result, it is not supported by Windows XP or Windows 2000 Server. Hyper-V specifically requires the Hyper-VSS writer, which cannot be found in these older operating systems.
4. Forgetting about Special Disk Configurations
Many IT administrators try to create more flexible storage configurations by adding iSCSI direct-attached disks to their virtual environments. Yes, these disks provide additional configuration options, but they are not visible at the host level. Therefore, the data on them will be omitted from any backup.
5. No Support for Cluster Shared Volumes
CSV (Cluster Shared Volumes) was first introduced alongside Windows Server 2008 R2. They allow for multiple VMs to be hosted in a single volume, and also to enable the cluster to failover individual VMs. Even with such benefits, many backup vendors do not support this feature. Make sure that the solution you chose has this capability before enabling it in your virtual environment.
6. Believing That Virtual Machine Snapshots Are Backups
A VM snapshot is like a photograph taken with a camera; it freezes a moment in time. A VM snapshot captures the state of a VM as it existed at a specific instant. Many people make the mistake of thinking that a snapshot is a true backup. Once you’ve restored a snapshot, you can only move back in time; you cannot then go back to the present. This means that “a snapshot can only look backward.”
Virtualization has had a tremendous effect on the design and operation of the modern data centre. It has helped to reduce its dependence on hardware, shifting the emphasis to the more effective and efficient use of the software. Solutions that deliver Hyper-V Backup have created a comprehensive backup solution that leverages the reliability and availability of the public cloud to ensure that businesses and their critical data are fully protected.