vCloud Air Data Protection:Part-1:Introduction

Everybody knows how important is to backup your critical workloads in your infrastructure. The need to protect workloads is the same whether it’s onsite or in the cloud.vCloud Air Data Protection services ensures business continuity for the workloads which are running in your vCloud Air environment.

So what is vCloud Air Data Protection exactly?  

VMware vCloud® Air Data Protection offers secure, policy-based backup and recovery in the cloud for virtual machines hosted exclusively on vCloud Air. It is an agent-less, self-service, policy-driven backup and recovery service with works on the principle of image-level backups.

As compared to traditional file-based backup and recovery solutions, vCloud Air Data Protection uses image-level backups to ensure all operating system, file system and application data encapsulated within a virtual machine are captured as a snapshot image before being committed to backup media.

The self-service backup features give customers a confidence to run their critical workloads in vCloud Air without worrying about data loss.

The below diagram illustrates high level overview of how DPS works in vCloud Air


Graphic Thanks to

Benefits of vCloud Air Data Protection?

Following are the benefits which an end user will get with DPS is vCloud Air:

  • Backup policy affinity controls per Virtual DataCenter (VDC) or per vApp
  • Daily (24-hour) Recovery Point Objective (RPO) guarantee
  • Virtual machine (image-level) Restore Granularity Objective (RGO)
  • Custom backup window scheduling
  • Configurable data retention
  • On-demand backups
  • Intelligent consumption tracking and activity reports

How vCloud Air DPS Works?

Data Protection uses snapshots to take the image level backup of Virtual Machines. When a backup is initiated, a snapshot of that VM is taken.  Post completion of the snapshot, it is then stored on the Data Protection storage (which is different than the storage which customers get when they purchase compute bits from vCloud Air) for the duration of the retention period defined in the policy.

The first backup is always a full backup and post that DPS leverages Change Block Tracking (CBT) and only backups the delta changes.Once the retention period is expired, the very first backup of the VM is deleted.

Below image summarizes the high level workflow of DPS


Graphic Thanks to

Data Protection Policies

Using the Data Protection Service, you can set data protection policies for your virtual data centers and vApps to meet your protection needs. You can apply data protection policies in the following ways:

1: To a virtual data center (Enabled mode): When you enable data protection for a virtual data center, all the virtual machines added to that virtual data center are protected automatically.

2: To a vApp directly (Self Service mode): When you switch to Self Service mode, the Data Protection Service does not back up all virtual machines in that data center automatically. You have the option to choose which virtual machines to back up and to apply individual policies to those virtual machines.

Note: To enable data protection for a virtual data center, you must be logged into vCloud Air as a virtual infrastructure administrator. If you are logged in as an end user, you can set backup policies only for the vApps you own.

Why Should Customer choose vCloud Air Data Protection Service?

DPS is different from the traditional backup and recovery techniques. Below are the 2 main features which makes DPS so popular:

1: Non-intrusive Protection for any Operating System and Application

By leveraging the Storage APIs at the vSphere layer in vCloud Air, DPS is able to use a combination of inline I/O quiescing and snapshot techniques at the virtualization layer to capture a crash-consistent image replica of any vApp and its virtual machine members.

These point-in-time replicas are made possible in Data Protection without having to install custom software agents, which often result in resource contention and potential performance degradation during an active backup window.

2: Multilayer Restore Workflows for Advanced Recovery

Data Protection helps streamline data recovery operations by offering dual self-service restore modes that can each address variable use cases:

  • In-place restore : Recovering from a backup replaces the protected virtual machine
  • Out-of-place restore: Recovered VM from backup is deployed as a separate VM.

Whether recovering a single virtual machine that has been accidentally deleted or an entire vApp with multiple virtual machine members assigned, each restore mode ensures that data is safely recovered with minimal disruption to ongoing operations.

Storage Considerations for DPS:

  • Backups on standard storage are limited by 200 IOPs per virtual machine disk (VMDK) and a 23 hour timeout. This allows ~300GB backups per VMDK for a backup if there is very minimal load on the disks. This should be considered when planning backups for vApps and individual virtual machines.
  • Recommended sizes for backups when using SSD accelerated storage are no greater than 2TB per VMDK with a total vApp size under 10 terabytes.
  • If the virtual machines are on standard storage, VMWare recommends that the VMDKs be no larger than 300 gigabytes each with a total vApp size under 2 terabytes.

For full list of DPS Best Practices please see VMware KB-2119537

How to Buy DPS?

A subscription to Data Protection can be purchased through MyVMware®. After the subscription is activated, a customer can begin using Data Protection through the vCloud Air console.

Thats it for this post. In next post of this series we will look into how to schedule a backup on a vApp/VM using DPS and how to restore it from backup.

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