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Protecting a Virtual Machine and also inside a guest

1:18 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Working on the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager booth the last few days got myself quite some insight in what customers want from DPM.  It also brought up a few “issues” that actually are non-issues but where you need to do a few steps to get the issue out of the way.

The DPM BoothMe and Hypervbear courtesy by @hypervbear


This is the scenario.  People want to protect the entire virtual machine once a day, a week, a … depending on their needs.  At the same time, they want to add a DPM agent inside the guest to enjoy the “every 15 minutes backup” for SQL or Exchange or so.

This scenario provides two great things:

1. You have a Disaster Recovery plan

You can recover your entire virtual machine, from x-days old.  Start the box, and then recover the latest data in the guest

2. You have a restore test scenario

Recover the virtual machine to an alternate hyper-v host.  And then do the recovery inside the guest again.

So you get real value for this scenario.  But here’s the catch.  When you are protecting the hyper-v machine, it will also go inside the guest to get a consistent state and truncate logs.  But you have also a guest backup that also will truncate logs… Houston, we have a problem here…

Luckily there is an answer to this problem.

The issue is described in this KB article:

Issue 3
The application backup operation in the virtual machine (VM) is incorrectly affected by the VM backup operation on the server that is running Hyper-V.

However, in some cases, this doesn’t solve the problem.  Don’t panic… Here is what you need to do:

You can apply the following registry entry in a virtual machine to fix "Issue 3" for that virtual machine:

Location: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Virtualization\VssRequestor
Name: BackupType
Value: 0 or 1

If this registry entry is created and its value is set to 1 , application backup will not be affected by the virtual machine backup operation on the server that is running Hyper-V. If this registry entry does not exist, or if its value is 0 , the "Issue 3" occurs.



Configuring Cluster Networks for CSV redirected access

7:55 am in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Here’s a great article published by Microsoft:

System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 Hyper-V protection: Configuring cluster networks for CSV redirected access

Those of you who have ever worked with DPM 2010 and the protection of hyper-v guests, located on a CSV know that this could be a pain in the …

We have seen many reports on dying clusters, non-performing servers and so on.

The first option is, and always is, make sure that you het the hardware VSS provider (

But sometimes it is just not possible (there is no VSS provider, or it is not compatible)

Second option would be to serialize the backup of the virtual machines. (Great article by Robert here:

And even further, the article published now gives a great overview on how and why you should have a dedicated network for redirected mode.





DPM 2010 Hyper-V Protection: Cluster networks for CSV redirected access

1:01 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Another great KB is launched…

This is all about that you can “kill” your network by protecting your hyper-v virtual machines on a CSV, by using a software VSS providor.

This has been discussed on the forums for many many times, and now, we finally have a clear, explained reason, and some workarounds and solutions

A must read KB if you want to protect VM’s




DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 4: Virtualization and Data Protection, better together

7:29 am in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Hey All,

Here’s part 4 of our DPM 2010 launch week overview

For the full set:

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 1: Technical Introduction

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 2: Protection Applications

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 3: Protecting Windows Clients

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 4: Virtualization and Data Protection, better together

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 5: Disaster recovery and advanced scenarios

DPM 2010 launch week @ MMS 2010: Part 6: Partner announcements

This was the last session of DPM Wednesday, and given by Asim Mitra and Vijay Sen, 2 program managers within Microsoft and responsible for the Virtualization protection within DPM.

On the agenda of this session:

  • Protecting your hyper-v environment
  • Hyper-V Recovery Options
  • Recovering from a disaster
  • Sample Customer Deployments

They started by outlining the top priorities for CIOs in 2010


If you look at the screenshot, you will see that Disaster Recovery / Business Continuance and Server Virtualization comes in 2nd and 3rd.  First one is cost reduction, but I guess that will be so for the next x years :-)

I know that virtualization is more “sexy” then disaster recovery for an IT Pro, but it is of course pretty important to think about backup / disaster recovery whenever you deploy a new solution into your environment.  So why not do this hand in hand?  DPM is designed to protect hyper-v fully and if you have read one of my previous posts you know that it is also capable of backing up vmware virtual machines… if you tweak a bit :-)

So what are the features of DPM 2010 for protecting hyper-v?

  • Host-level backup of Hyper-V on WS 2008 R2
  • Cluster Shared Volumes (CSV) support
  • Seamless protection of Live Migrating VMs
  • Alternate Host Recovery
  • Item Level Recovery

Sounds interesting?  Let’s continue to have a look.

First, they started with a discussion on what to protect.  Should we protect on the host and backup entire VM’s?  Or should we protect inside the guests and take the data?  Now this was the sign for many people in the room to shoot the profile of their environment at the two and ask what the solution would be for their specific case.  Luckily these guys were smart enough (or well trained :-)) to leave all options open.  Why?  I think they share the same opinion as I have.  You never can take this decision without first assessing an environment thoroughly.  There are so many questions you need to ask first before you can decide on what strategy you are going to use.  And even then, in many cases, you will be using both.  I actually had a discussion that evening with a guy that could not believe that at a certain moment you would only choose for the host-level backup for a certain virtual machine.  I actually do think there are cases when this can be done.  Imagine a webserver that is running in production and where the configuration only changes once and a while.  A daily backup of the guest should be enough.  I think a lot of servers that are running and running and don’t contain user data or business data can be protected that way.  I mean, who cares that you lose log files if you are not compliant to something?  If you can recover the server quickly when he’s out, that’s more important then those log files right?  And if they are important, I’m sure that the business then have a solution to archive these logs into an auditing system.  But for the conclusion, this really should be looked at on an individual base and here under are some points that can be used to make that decision

  • Host
    • Protect or recover the whole machine
    • “Bare Metal Recovery” & “Item Level Recovery” of every VM
    • Protect non-Windows servers & LOB applications that don’t have VSS writers
    • No granularity of backup
    • Single DPM license on host, all guests protected
  • Guest
    • Protect or recover data specifically
    • SQL database
    • Exchange
    • SharePoint
    • Files
    • No different than protecting the physical server
    • DPML per Guest

Next topic, how does it work.

As always, you start with an initial replica.  After that, this is never done again.  What happens is the following:

  1. DPM initiates the backup process
  2. Using the VSS framework, an application consistent snapshot is created inside the guest virtual machine
  3. A snapshot of the VM is created on the Host (Important mark, use a hardware VSS writer is you are using a CSV)
  4. Then there is a checksum comparison of the VM snapshot with the DPM Replica
  5. Finally, only the changed blocks are replicated to the DPM Server

Seamless protection of Live Migrating VMs

Yep, you’ve read it correctly.  The backup administrator (I would like to introduce a new title for this job, I would like to call him a Business Continuity and Protection Engineer or Officer… what do you think? :-)) doesn’t need to care where the actual virtual machine resides.  With live migration, pro-tips in SCVMM and virtualization admins you can imagine that the placement of a virtual machine is never fixed.  And you can also image that the virtualization admins won’t like to update the backup guy every time a machine has moved.  With all the automation you can create these days (SCVMM, Opalis, SCOM…) they will probably don’t have a clue either.  DPM will know where the virtual machines is, and protect it from there.  If a machine is moved, then DPM will follow it to its new path.

What about Storage Migration?  Will that work also?  Yep, it will.  Again, DPM will follow the path

All nice and well, you are protected.  But issues happened, and you need to recover.  What are your options?

  • Restore VM back to original host or cluster

Probably the most expected option, system went down, recover to the same location and you’re up and running again.

  • Restore VM to a different host or cluster

A little less expected.  Restore the server to another cluster or individual host.  Now this opens options.  Take a backup of a production server, and restore it to another host for testing purposes.  Just make sure that your test environment doesn’t have the capability to talk to your production environment.  Not sure about the latest patches or service packs?  Restore to another environment, deploy the patches and see if the server starts nicely again.

  • Item Level Recovery (ILR) to file share

And this will become a very much used feature in the future.  Mount the virtual machine, get inside the virtual machine or guest and get the items out of the disk.  This can be extremely handy if you decommissioned a server but forgot to copy one or two files.

What they also discussed is disaster recovery and how to prepare for it, but this will be much more highlighted in the next part.

Finally they showed some real-life implementations.  I’ll add the example of a mid-sized asian hoster in here

CSV Production Environment

This customer has multiple 3-5 node CSV clusters with 30+ VMs on each.

Each CSV has Fiber channel SAN – Dell EqualLogic with H/W provider

Maintained a ratio of 1 CSV per cluster node & VHDs for a VM are co-located in a CSV.

Backup Configuration:

The VM workload mix comprises of almost all Microsoft workloads (Complete Microsoft Shop).

The average size / VM is ~70 GB.

All VMs are backed up at the host level with DPM 2010 on a daily basis.

35% of servers which require which require granular backup and near continuous RPO continue to get backed at guest level using DPM 2010, just as earlier in a physical environment.

Typical DPM 2010 Server Configuration

Number of Processors on DPM Servers: Intel 2×4 cores

Amount of RAM on DPM Server: 8 GB RAM

DPM 2010 protects a fan in of 3 such CSV clusters


Till next post



New important Knowledgebase: DPM encountered a retryable VSS error

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Hey Guys,

Fresh from the DPM blog:

Whenever you have the following error:

Recovery point creation jobs for Microsoft Hyper-V \Backup Using Saved State\W2K8-R2 on protected_VM have been failing. The number of failed recovery point creation jobs = 1.

If the datasource protected is SharePoint, then click on the Error Details to view the list of databases for which recovery point creation failed. (ID 3114)

DPM encountered a retryable VSS error. (ID 30112 Details: VssError: The writer experienced a transient error. If the backup process is retried, the error may not reoccur.

Then check out it out @

Watch out, it is not a hotfix, but a workaround!



System Center Data Protection manager 2007 – SP1 features.

8:53 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Back in june i posted this blogpost on what to expect from DPM2007 SP1.
Some weeks ago I attended a session hosted by the Belgian system center user group about DPM where there was a slide on what will be included in SP1.

  • SCR protection for Exchange 2007
  • support for mirrored Databases and for SQL2008
  • support for indexes in sharepoint
  • support for HyperV !
  • and local datastorage backup
  • you will be able to use shared tape librairies


You can also view this session as it was recorded for the Technet Chopsticks website

//Bart Bultinck

ISCSI target software for short term lab projects….

1:44 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler


Just did another implementation of a DELL Equallogic PS5000XV iscsi array which is very nice and powerfull equipment well suited for the virtualisation project I'm currently working on.
I just had a "few thingies" I wanted to try out offline so I booted up my virtual lab and started to search for iscsi target software.
I used openfiler before and as this is great software (and free) I was going to build me a openfiler VM again just when I happened to cross a blogpost about the MS ISCSI target software trial software used in their storage server suite.

So i didn't have to build another VM and i could just load the trial software on a VM . 2 mins later I had a working iscsi target server. Hooray for productivity !

Download the trial by clicking here.
Source :




my 15 minutes of fame – SCVMM & SCDPM customercase

6:35 pm in Uncategorized by mikeresseler

Some time ago my customer and myself joined the IT-PRO MOMENTUM program in order to accelerate our roll-out of system center virtual machine manager and system center data protection manager.

And last week we made a small video about this project that will be appearing later on Technet Edge i believe. Looking forward for the results…
I'll be posting more stuff about this project later on…


Yours truly explaining why SCVMM and SCDPM are great (not much explaining needed)

image  A little powder to make the head less shiny :-)

//Bart Bultinck