Backup and Restore Windows Virtual Machines on VMware vSphere using System Center DPM 2010

by [Published on 27 Jan. 2011 / Last Updated on 27 Jan. 2011]

In this article, you learn how to use System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 (DPM 2010) to perform a backup and Bare Metal Restore (BMR) of a virtual machine running a Windows Server 2008 guest operating system on a VMware ESX or ESXi host.

This article does not cover how to setup and configure DPM 2010. However, you can find this information in a series of recent articles written by Robert Larson for VirtualizationAdmin.com.

Overview

System Center DPM 2010 provides a multi-level backup solution that can be used across both Hyper-V and VMware ESX virtualization platforms. For Hyper-V, DPM 2010 provides host-based and guest-based protection options. Host-based protection allows backup of virtual machine configuration, state information, and VHDs from a single DPM agent deployed on a Hyper-V host machine. For virtual machines running a guest operating system on which the VSS Integration Component (IC) is installed, an online backup (i.e., no downtime) is performed. For virtual machines running a guest operating system for which a VSS IC is not installed, an offline backup occurs. In an offline backup, the virtual machine is placed in save state prior to the backup to ensure a consistent data state since there is no VSS-based mechanism to perform this function.

While host-based protection extends across Windows and non-Windows virtual machines, guest-based protection only provides support for virtual machines with a Windows Server 2003 or later (VSS-aware) guest operating system. Because guest-based protection requires the deployment of a DPM agent to the virtual machine guest operating system, it can be used as a backup solution for both Hyper-V and VMware ESX hosted virtual machines.

DPM 2010 Guest-Based Protection

DPM 2010 guest-based protection provides multiple levels of granularity ranging from file-level to application-level data, all the way to a complete or BMR of a virtual machine. Application-level data can be protected for applications that are themselves VSS-aware, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, and Microsoft SharePoint Server. Table 1 provides a summary of the application data objects that can be protected using guest-based protection.

Application

Protected Data

Recovery Level

Windows Server 2008
Windows Server 2008 R2

System State
Volume
Share
Folder

BMR
System State
Volume
Share
Folder
File

Windows Server 2003
Windows Server 2003 R2

System State
Volume
Share
Folder

System State
Volume
Share
Folder
File

Exchange Server 2003
Exchange Server 2007

Storage Group

Storage Group
Database
Mailbox

Exchange Server 2010

Databases under a DAG

Mailbox
Mailbox databases under a DAG

Office SharePoint Server 2007

Farm
SharePoint Search
Front-end Web Server

Farm
Database
Web application
File
List item
SharePoint Search
Front-end Web Server

SQL Server 2000

SQL Server 2005
SQL Server 2008

Database

Database

Windows Storage Server 2003
Windows Storage Server 2008

Volume
Share
Folder

Volume
Share
Folder
File

Table 1: DPM 2010 Guest-Based Protection Options

In DPM 2010, System State protection enables protection of operating system files for Windows Server 2003 and later versions. For Windows Server 2008 and later versions, in addition to System State protection, other critical data is protected to provide a BMR option.

DPM 2010 Configuration for Guest-Based BMR Protection

The configuration of DPM 2010 to enable guest-based BMR protection includes the following steps:

  • Installing Windows Server Backup on the virtual machine
  • Adding storage to the DPM Storage Pool
  • Deploying the DPM Agent to the virtual machine
  • Creating a new DPM Protection Group

Installing Windows Server Backup on Windows Server 2008

DPM 2010 depends on Windows Server Backup (WSB) to perform System State and BMR backup and recovery operations. In order to support a BMR of a Windows Server 2008 virtual machine, WSB must first be installed and configured on the protected virtual machine.

Use the following procedure to install Windows Server Backup on Windows Server 2008:

  1. Launch the Server Manager and select Features in the left pane.
  2. In the right pane, select the Add Features option.
  3. In the Add Features wizard, on the Select Features page, scroll down and select the Windows Server Backup Features checkbox, and then click Next.
  4. On the Confirmation page, click Install.
  5. On the Progress page, monitor the installation.
  6. On the Results page, click Close.

Adding Storage to the DPM 2010 Storage Pool

In DPM 2010, storage pools require locally available, non-removable, dynamic disks that are dedicated for backup operations. Once a disk is added to the DPM storage pool, it is fully managed by DPM 2010. More specifically, DPM 2010 performs the conversion to dynamic disks that can be expanded based on the backup set storage size requirements. DPM 2010 also controls disk format operations, storage space allocation, and tracking space allocation for backups.

Use the following procedure to add storage to the DPM 2010 storage pool:

  1. Launch the DPM 2010 Administrator Console and then select the Management workspace (Figure 1).


Figure 1:
DPM 2010 Administrator Console

  1. In the Management workspace, click the Disks tab (Figure 2).


Figure 2:
DPM 2010 Disks View

  1. In the Actions pane, select Add to add storage to the storage pool.
  2. In the Add Disks To Storage Pool dialog box, select a disk, click the Add button, and then click OK (Figure 3).


Figure 3:
Adding a disk to the storage pool

  1. When prompted, click Yes to allow the disk to be converted to dynamic disks (Figure 4).


Figure 4:
Dynamic disks conversion warning

  1. The new disk is added to the storage pool and you can view the total disk capacity and percentage of unallocated disk space (Figure 5).


Figure 5:
Storage pool disk information

Deploying the DPM Agent to the Virtual Machine

The DPM 2010 server requires an agent deployment to every protected virtual machine. Before the DPM Agent can be installed on a Windows virtual machine with a firewall, a firewall exception must be configured for the Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) component.

After configuring the virtual machine firewall exception for WMI, use the following procedure to deploy the DPM Agent:

  1. In the DPM 2010 Administrator Console, select the Management workspace.
  2. In the Management workspace, select the Agents tab.
  3. From the Actions menu, select Add to launch the Protection Agent Installation Wizard.
  4. On the Select Agent Deployment Method page, select Install Agents (Figure 6).


Figure 6:
Protection Agent Installation Wizard

  1. On the Select Computers page, highlight the virtual machine from the Computer list, click the Add button, and then click Next (Figure 7).


Figure 7:
Computer selection page

  1. On the Enter Credentials Page, provide credentials with administrator rights on the virtual machine, and then click Next (Figure 8).


Figure 8:
Virtual machine credentials page

  1. On the Chose Restart Method page, select the Yes option to restart the virtual machine after installing the protection agent, and then click Next (Figure 9).


Figure 9:
Restart Method selection page

  1. On the Summary page, review the DPM Agent installation information, and then click Install (Figure 10).


Figure 10:
Summary page

  1. When the installation is complete, click Close.

If the installation of the DPM Agent using the wizard is unsuccessful in your environment or there are additional blocking firewalls between the DPM server and the VMware ESX server hosting the Windows virtual machine, you can also perform a manual installation of the DPM Agent.

Creating a New DPM Protection Group

Protection groups define the types of systems that must be backed up (e.g., servers or clients), the associated data that should be backed up (e.g., shares, volumes, system state, SQL database, and so on), and the backup settings. Backup settings include the following items:

  • Retention requirements such as short term (disk) and/or long term (tape)
  • Backup schedule
  • Backup lifetime
  • Recovery points schedule

Use the following procedure to create a new DPM protection group:

  1. In the DPM 2010 Administrator Console, select the Protection workspace.
  2. In the Actions pane, select Create Protection Group to launch the Create New Protection Group wizard (Figure 11).


Figure 11:
Create New Protection Group Wizard

  1. On the Welcome To The New Protection Group Wizard page, click Next.
  2. On the Select Protection Group Type, select Servers, and then click Next (Figure 12).


Figure 12:
Protection group type selection

  1. On the Select Group Members page, select the virtual machine to protect and the components to protect. In order to protect the whole virtual machine, select all components, and then click Next (Figure 13).


Figure 13:
Protection group members selection

Note:
Under System Protection, there are two options: System State and BMR. If you only want the ability to repair a corrupt operating system installation, then select System State. However, to enable a BMR, you must select both System State and BMR. BMR protection requires more storage space on the replica volume, but less storage space on the recovery point volume than System State protection. Storage space is required on the protected machine because System State protection first writes a replica to local disk and then transfers it to the DPM server. With BMR protection, the replica is immediately transferred over the network to the DPM server.

  1. On the Select Data Protection Method page, enter a name for the Protection Group, and then click Next (Figure 14).


Figure 14: Data protection method selection

  1. On the Specify Short-Term Goals page, specify the number of days that you want to retain a backup in the protection group and how often you want to synchronize the backup, and then click Next (Figure 15).


Figure 15: Short-Term backup goal selection

  1. On the Review Disk Allocation page, review the information and then click Next (Figure 16).


Figure 16: Disk allocation review

Note:
DPM determines how much space the initial data replica will take and allocates space from the storage pool. By default, DPM will automatically grow the storage volumes based on backup storage size requirements.

  1. On the Choose Replica Creation Method page, select the Automatically Over The Network option and the Now option, and then click Next (Figure 17).


Figure 17: Replica creation method selection

  1. On the Consistency Check Options page, select the Run A Consistency Check Only If The Replica Becomes Inconsistent option, and then click Next (Figure 18).


Figure 18: Consistency check selection

  1. On the Summary page, review the selected options and then click Create Group (Figure 19).


Figure 19: Summary review

  1. A Status window displays the new protection group creation process and allocation of the replica storage (Figure 20).


Figure 20: New protection group creation progress

  1. Once the Protection Group is successfully created, click Close (Figure 21).


Figure 21: New protection group creation completion

  1. Under the Protection Tab, you can view the status of the Replica creation (Figure 22).


Figure 22:
Replica creation status

  1. When the replica creation is complete, the Protection Status column displays a status of OK.

Using DPM 2010 to Perform a BMR of a Windows Virtual Machine

The procedure to perform a BMR of a Windows virtual machine running on a VMware ESX host using DPM 2010 includes the following steps:

  • Recovering the DPM 2010 BMR image to a network share
  • Using the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) for system restore

Recovering the DPM 2010 BMR Image to a Network Share

Before using DPM 2010 to restore the virtual machine BMR image, configure a network share with sufficient storage space for the image, and ensure that it is accessible from the DPM 2010 server and the VMware host on which you will create the virtual machine.

Use the following procedure to recover the BMR image to a network share:

  1. Launch the DPM 2010 Administrator Console, and select the Recovery tab.
  2. Select the Browse tab and expand the tree until you find the virtual machine that you want to recover.
  3. Under All DPM Protected Data, select System Protection.
  4. In the Recovery Points list, select Bare Metal Recovery (Figure 23).


Figure 23:
Recovery Workspace

  1. Select the desired date and time of the desired recovery point using the calendar.
  2. In the Actions pane, select Recover to launch the Recovery Wizard.
  3. On the Review Recovery Selection page, verify the information and then click Next (Figure 24).


Figure 24:
Review Recovery Selection page

  1. On the Select Recovery Type page, select Copy To A Network Folder, and then click Next (Figure 25).


Figure 25:
Select Recovery Type page

  1. On the Specify Destination page, click the Browse button, select the network share to store the BMR image, and then click OK (Figure 26).


Figure 26:
Alternate Recovery Destination selection

  1. On the Specify Destination page, ensure that there is a sufficient amount of free space on the network folder for a successful restore operation, and then click Next (Figure 27).


Figure 27:
Specify Destination page

  1. On the Specify Recovery Options page, select the Apply The Security Settings Of The Destination Computer option, and then click Next (Figure 28).


Figure 28:
Specify Recovery Options page

  1. On the Summary page, verify the information, and then click Recover (Figure 29).


Figure 29:
Summary page

  1. The recovery process begins and displays the Recovery Status progress (Figure 30).


Figure 30:
Recovery Status page

  1. When the Recovery is completed successfully, click Close (Figure 31).


Figure 31:
Recovery Success page

Using the Windows Recovery Environment for System Restore

After the BMR image is recovered to a network share, you must create a virtual machine on the target VMware ESX host, and boot it with the guest operating system media using either a physical disc or ISO image. When the guest operating system installation procedure starts, then you can select the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE) to complete the restore process.

Use the following procedure to recover the BMR image to the virtual machine:

  1. Create the virtual machine on the VMware ESX host and configure it with an IP address that provides access to the network share where the BMR image is stored.
  2. Boot the virtual machine with the Windows Server 2008 installation media.
  3. On the Install Windows screen, select Repair Your Computer (Figure 32).


Figure 32:
Install Windows screen

  1. In the System Recovery Options dialog box, select Windows Complete PC Restore (Figure 33).


Figure 33:
System Recovery Options dialog

  1. When prompted that a valid backup location could not be found on the local computer, click Cancel (Figure 34).


Figure 34:
Windows Complete PC Restore dialog

  1. On the Restore Your Entire Computer From A Backup page, select the Restore A Different Backup option, and then click Next (Figure 35).


Figure 35:
Backup type selection

  1. On the Select The Location Of The Backup dialog box, Click Advanced (Figure 36).


Figure 36:
Select backup location

  1. When prompted, select the Search For A Backup On The Network option (Figure 37).


Figure 37:
Searching for a backup on the network

  1. When prompted to connect to the network, click Yes (Figure 38).


Figure 38:
Connecting to the network dialog

  1. Enter the path to the network share where the recovery image is stored, and then click OK (Figure 39).


Figure 39:
Specifying the network share location

  1. When prompted, enter the credentials required for access to the share, and then click OK (Figure 40).


Figure 40:
Specifying credentials for access to the network share

  1. In the list of recovery images stored on the network share, select the recovery point from the list, and click Next (Figure 41).


Figure 41:
Recovery point selection

  1. Select the desired backup, and then click Next (Figure 42).


Figure 42:
Backup selection

  1. On the Choose How To Restore The Backup page, select the Format And Repartition Disks option, and then click Next (Figure 43).


Figure 43:
Restore option selection

  1. On the last page, review the settings and then click Finish to complete the BMR (Figure 44).


Figure 44:
Restore options summary

  1. You prompted with a confirmation dialog verifying that you want to format and reparation the disks, check the confirmation box, and then click OK (Figure 45).


Figure 45:
Confirmation dialog

  1.  After the restore operation starts, you can choose to stop the restore option, but you cannot roll it back (Figure 46).


Figure 46:
BMR in progress

  1. After the restore operation is complete, the virtual machine reboots and is quickly back up and running.

Conclusion

DPM 2010 guest-based protection provides the ability to perform a bare metal recovery of Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 running on Hyper-V or VMware ESX virtualization platforms. As you can see from the article, backing up and recovering the BMR image is a very straightforward process with DPM 2010. Just remember that it is dependent on Windows Server Backup and that it must be installed on the protected virtual machine. Equally simple is the BMR process using WinRE. In order to perform a BMR for a Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 virtual machine, make sure to use the correct boot media to select WinRE. Although similar, Windows Server 2008 WinRE cannot be used for Windows Server 2008 R2 recovery, and the Windows Server 2008 R2 WinRE cannot be used for Windows Server 2008 recovery.

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