VMware Backup

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What Is VMware Backup?

VMware backup is the process of copying data from a virtual machine (VM) in a VMware environment to another, separate location to prevent data from being permanently lost or damaged. Depending on traditional backup software is risky because VMs can end up in “resource contention”—a conflict over access to a shared resource that can adversely impact performance. What’s needed is an end-to-end, software-defined solution for backing up all on-premises, edge, and public cloud VMware VM environments at scale and to any point in time.

Why Is VMware Backup Important?

The VM is a standard unit for both compute and storage in today’s IT environments. Some organizations run IT environments that are completely or almost completely virtualized. VMware is the predominant hypervisor provider of virtual machine related technologies. Because of this, VMware backup is an important aspect of every backup and recovery strategy.

Robust VMware backup is necessary for business continuity because cybercriminals are increasingly targeting organizations’ data with ransomware. Analysts predict ransomware attackers will be targeting a business every 2 seconds by 2031. The most effective VMware backup solution will include comprehensive capabilities to detect, deter ransomware, and help organizations with rapid recovery in case of an attack.

Having secure, simple to manage VMware backups is also a business necessity to meet compliance requirements. Auditors will often ask teams to prove they are complying with long-term retention policies and can easily initiate data recovery, should it be needed.

What Are the Backup Options for VMware?

Organizations have options when considering how to back up their VMware data sources. The most popular are:

  • Agent-based backup — Teams back up VMs like they do physical machines using an agent installed on each virtual machine that allows them to define which apps or data to include. This method allows for granular protection and recovery of specific data and apps, but does increase overhead on the VMware host.
  • File-based backups — Organizations can quickly back up a complete Virtual Machine Disk (VMDK) file, which is a single VM stored as a VM file, without completing a full OS backup, which can be a time-consuming operation. With this approach, teams can end up with some unnecessary data, but it is all there at restore.
  • Agentless  backup — Modern backup and recovery solutions such as Cohesity support the VMware vStorage APIs, ensuring the backup and recovery of entire VMs through the VMware ESXi hosts. They feature both full and incremental backups as well as instant mass restore of VMs to any point in time.

How Do I Back Up a VMware Virtual Machine?

Modern backup solutions simplify backing up VMware VMs. Cohesity, for example, integrates with VMware snapshot technology and VMware vCenter to:

  • Consolidate disconnected, standalone backup software, target storage, proxy and media servers, and cloud gateways into a single solution
  • Provide comprehensive data protection for a broad set of enterprise apps, databases, network-attached storage (NAS), and workloads running as virtual machines on the VMware hypervisor.
  • Globally search VMs, files, and objects across locations and instantly recover at scale to any point in time

How Does VM Backup Work?

Backup and recovery software solutions, like Cohesity DataProtect, enable organizations to easily protect data for virtual environments, and dramatically reduce cost and complexity for businesses. When the solution is tightly integrated with VMware, businesses can instantly see a full list of the virtual environment and choose which virtual machines to back up and protect. These VMs can then be safeguarded with easy-to-use protection profiles that can be customized based on service-level agreement (SLA), retention period, or application group. The process leverages available VMware APIs for Data Protection (VADP), eliminating the need to install in-guest agents across the virtualized infrastructure. As new VMs are added, they are auto discovered and included in the protection policy that meets the desired SLAs. Easy and intuitive policy administration through a single pane of glass provides a plug-and-play experience for managing daily operations.

What Is VMware vSphere?

VMware vSphere is the industry’s leading compute virtualization platform. The first hypervisor software for creating and running virtual machines (VMs)—which abstract an operating system and its resources from the underlying hardware—vSphere is now architected with native Kubernetes. The new approach has evolved vSphere into an enterprise platform for both traditional and modern applications. vSphere enables enterprises to deliver developer-ready infrastructure, scale without compromise, and simplify operations. Because of the popularity of vSphere for creating and running VMs in organizations worldwide, it is among the leading data sources that enterprises must back up and restore in their computing environments.

What Is an Instant Mass Restore?

An instant mass restore is a recovery of tens to thousands of virtual machines at one time. This can be critical when an organization has a mass outage, such as being hit by a ransomware attack. It’s the instant recovery of an unlimited number of VMware VMs to any point in time.

Is a VM Snapshot a Backup?

No. VMware’s best practices recommend against using VMware snapshots as backups because the snapshot file is a placeholder—a change log of the original virtual disk. If the disks are deleted, the snapshot files are insufficient to restore a VM. In contrast, a third-party backup solution can create an application consistent snapshot that can protect the entire application, VM, or system and hold it until a restore is needed.

What Is VMware Instant Mass Restore?

VMware customers can use Cohesity to globally search and then instantly recover from one to ten to hundreds, even thousands of VMs with instant mass restore.

Cohesity maintains all snapshots fully hydrated and ready to be restored. Fully hydrated snapshots combined with Cohesity’s MegaFile capability and a true distributed architecture enables teams to instantly restore an unlimited number of VMware VMs from any point in time at scale.

Cohesity and VMware Backup

After your personnel, data is your organization’s most valuable asset. But mass data fragmentation—the proliferation of data across different locations, infrastructure silos, clouds, and management systems—has prevented you from effectively protecting, managing, and extracting value from all the data in your VMware environment.

In a single, software-defined platform, Cohesity offers broad support for VMware solutions with seamless integration into VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware Cloud Director, VMware vSphere, VMware vSAN, VMware vRealize Automation, and VMware vRealize Orchestrator.

For organizations looking to modernize backup, Cohesity delivers protection of VMware VMs with on-prem, and simple Data Management as a Service (DMaaS) solutions. You can protect your entire VMware estate wherever it resides—onsite and in the cloud—unifying management across SaaS and data center deployments.

DMaaS from Cohesity for VMware VMs is:

  • Simple — The industry’s only inclusive front-end pricing for all workloads with an intuitive UI
  • Efficient — Optimized data transfers with change block tracking for fast backups and recovery plus instant search to find the data you need
  • Secure — Encryption for data in flight and at rest with flexible key management so you can isolate your data to recover from cyber attacks.

With Cohesity, you get full data protection and services for your entire VMware portfolio. And if the worst happens, you can use Cohesity instant mass restore to recover all of your VMs, instantly, at scale, to any point in time.

“With Cohesity, we can do really granular backups and recovery of databases. And because it’s all incremental or log-based, they’re really fast.”

Ken Watt, Senior Infrastructure Specialist, Ridgeback Resources

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