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Virtual server infrastructure management

Virtual server infrastructure management is taking over the physical server and virtual server management and will require innovative problem-solving. This tip can get you started.

IT reseller takeway: As an IT professional you are charged with understanding and managing rapidly changing virtualization environments for your customer. This tip excerpt from our sister site SearchServerVirtualiztion provides some best practices and options.


With virtualization technologies taking a real hold in the IT world, the physical server layer is being transitioned to a virtual server infrastructure. As a result, many areas of management and maintenance that were previously straightforward and well-understood are now overshadowed with questions about best practices and alternatives. The key area that my customers often ask about is best methods and practices around backing up and restoring virtual machine instances.

More on server virtualization support
Virtual Machines: Install and deploy

In this tip, I'll focus on backup alternatives for a standalone VMware 3.0.1 environment and a method of performing backups to allow for easy restoration of this type of virtual environment. It will detail the processes of both file level and raw virtual machine file backup alternatives, and will give examples of how to configure and set up the backups for each of these backup methods.

Two types of backups in a virtual environment
There are two different types of backups in a virtual environment:

 

  • File level backup of the virtual machine's partitions is identical to the current process of backing up a physical machine's local or SAN connected disk. It is usually done by installing a backup agent in the virtual machine and backing up files to a backup server via the network. This process is good for virtual machine file level restoration, but lacks the ability to do a bare metal type of restoration if there is a VMFS3 disk failure, a virtual machine is accidentally removed from a disk, or the entire machine needs to be restored..

     

  • Backup of the raw virtual machine VMDK and configuration files stored on VMFS3 partitions allows for a complete (bare metal) virtual machine restoration. This is by far the fastest way to restore an entire virtual machine, but would be a bit cumbersome to use for file level restoration.

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This was last published in September 2007

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