HP Ireland Event at Redstone: Data Protector in The Virtualised Environment

Redstone is one of Ireland’s leading enterprise hardware providers in Ireland – I’ll be open and admit that I’m a (happy) blade and storage customer.  They are running this event today in cooperation with HP Ireland.  The goodie bag will in no way influence me 🙂

Today’s event will focus on Data Protector, HP’s backup solution, and how it can be used in a virtualised environment.  The majority of the attendees are using EVA/VMware.  About 1/4 are using Hyper-V.  A couple are using Xen and a couple are using XP SAN.  No one here is using Lefthand.  About 1/5 are using Data Protector for their backups.

  • Virtualisation solves some problems but complicates backups.
  • We need to reduce backup costs – storage amounts.
  • We need to be able to reliably restore business critical data and secure sensitive data.

A common problem is that people rush head first into virtualisation without considering the strategy for backup.


  • VM level backup: The argument by the HP speaker is that this is resource intensive.
  • Host level backup: This “doesn’t” impact the performance of the host. Hmm.  There is an issue with recovered data consistency, e.g. is there Volume Shadow Copy integration to Windows VM’s?  SQL and Exchange don’t support this.

The speakers says Data Protector allows you to take both approaches to meet suitable requirements for each VM.

Data Protector 6.11 has VMware VCB and Hyper-V support.  The core product has a license.  It has the traditional bolt-on license approach.  Virtualisation requires an “Online Backup” license.  The Zero Downtime Backup allows integration into the snapshot features of your HP storage array.

Note: that’s probably the approach you’d go with for backup of a Hyper-V CSV due to the CSV coordinator/redirected I/O issue with host level backups – assuming this is supported by Data Protector.

For storage I/O intensive applications, Data Protector can take advantage of the ability to snapshot the targeted LUN’s.  You identify a LUN to backup, the SAN creates a copy, Data Protector backups up the copy while the primary continues to be used by the application/users.  This can be a partial copy for normal backup/recovery to save storage space/costs on the SAN.  You can do a full copy of the LUN for “instant recovery”, i.e. Data Protector restores file(s) from the copy of the LUN.  This requires additional per TB licensing.  The partial copy cannot do “instant recovery” because it links back to the original storage and isn’t completely independent.  There’s a cost for these two solutions so you save it for the mission critical, storage performance sensitive data/applications.  You can do this on a replicated partner SAN to do backups in your DR site instead of in the production site.  These solutions require the VSS integrations for the storage arrays.  Note that this isn’t for VM snapshots.

Zero Time Backup and Instant Recovery can be done in VMware if the VM uses raw device mapping (pass through disks).

Hyper-V Backup Methods

  • In VM agent
  • VSS system  provider snapshots
  • VSS hardware provider snapshots
  • Full restore of VM
  • Partial restore of files
  • Offline backups for VM’s
  • Zero downtime backup
  • Instant recovery

I would guess the last two require passthrough disks.  Might be a solution for SQL/Exchange VM’s.

Really, you will end up with a combination of backup methods across the data centre, depending on VM’s, applications, and backup/recovery times/impacts.

After coffee, we had some demos of VMware backups that didn’t go so well for the HP speaker.

In summary, Data Protector gives you some HP storage integrated backup options.  Be careful and ensure that servers, OS’s, and applications support the backup type being used.

Although HP and Microsoft have announced their “Forefront” virtualisation alliance, there’s still a lot of catch up going on with regards to Hyper-V knowledge and sharing.  Thanks to Redstone for organising this up in their scenic office in the Wicklow mountains – not exactly a bad place to be just after sunrise.

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