Build Your Private Cloud in a Month: Protecting Private Cloud Workloads with System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager (DPM)

imageBeing able to protect your Private cloud is one of the more important things you can do.  With so many moving parts how do you approach this.  If you are leveraging System Center 2012 for the many other components of your infrastructure, than I would highly recommend you look at Data Protection Manager (DPM) for two reasons. 

  1. DPM is designed to backup and maintain your Microsoft workloads, and leverages the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on your servers.
  2. If you bought System Center 2012, you already own DPM.  When you buy System Center 2012 you get all the System Center components including DPM.

While DPM can protect a variety of workloads from SQL, SharePoint, Exchange bulk of your of the workloads in your cloud is going to virtualized.  DPM is fantastic at protecting your Hyper-V hosts and their virtual guests that are running on them.  Today’s post will focus on the protecting your virtual infrastructure.    There is a great article here that takes you through all of DPM 2012: System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager 

DPM enables disk-based and tape-based data protection and recovery for computers in and across Active Directory domains. DPM performs replication, synchronization, and recovery point creation to provide reliable protection and rapid recovery of data both by system administrators and by end-users.  One of the new features in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V is to be able to place your Hyper-V files on a SMB share, and DPM can protect it.  Specifically SP1 of DPM can protect many of the new aspects of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V:

  • Improved backup performance of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over CSV 2.0 deployments
    Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) provide a distributed file access solution so that multiple nodes in the cluster can simultaneously access the same NTFS file system.  In System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) DPM, CSV 2.0 support allows the following benefits:
    • 900% improvement in Express Full backups.
    • Parallel backups.
    • No performance difference between backups from owner and non-owner nodes.
    • Support for SMB shares  
  • Protect Hyper-V over remote SMB share
  • DPM now allows you to exclude virtual machine pagefiles from incremental backups to improve usage of storage and improve backup performance.
  • Scale out support for Hyper-V virtual machines
  • Support for Live Migration.  In System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) DPM, Live Migration support allows the following benefits:
    • Uninterrupted protection for migrated virtual machines.
    • Support for inter-cluster, cluster to standalone, and standalone to cluster migrations apart from intra-cluster migration.
    • Support for SMB shares.

You can learn more about other new functions of DPM SP1 here: What's new in System Center 2012 - Data Protection Manager SP1 Release Candidate 

Protecting Your Hyper-V Hosts

Depending on how your hosts are configured will determine on how you use DPM to protect them.   You can learn more about the different ways to protect your hosts here: Managing Hyper-V Computers DPM can protect your Hyper-V environments in the following scenarios:

  • Protecting standalone or clustered (both CSV and failover cluster are supported) Hyper-V computer
  • Protecting the virtual machine
  • Protecting virtual machine that uses SMB storage
  • Protecting Hyper-V with VM Mobility

Regardless on which scenarios your environment falls under there are a couple of pre-requisites you will need to do.  On your DPM Server you will want to install the Hyper-V role.  The reason for this is so you can do item-level recovery (ILR).  If you do not install the role, you can still protect your Hyper-V Hosts you just will not be able to perform (ILR).  Also depending on your host OS and configuration you may have some additional tasks to perform on your server prior to installing the DPM agent.  You can find those here: Prerequisites for Hyper-V protection

imageAfter you have your servers configured then you will be able deploy the DPM agent to the systems to protect them.  One important thing to keep in mind is where you need to deploy the DPM agent to.  It may not be just your hyper-v hosts.  If you are using Hyper-V using an SMB share, you will also need to place the agent on the SMB storage server.   When you use DPM for this configuration the application server and storage server can be stand-alone or clustered.  Also make sure that you provide full-share level permissions and folder-level permissions to the application server (machine$ account) on the SMB share.  When DPM protects this environment it will transfer the backup data from remote SMB to DPM through the server that runs Hyper-V.  Take a look at the deployment tasks for the other scenarios here: Deploying Hyper-V protection

After you have deployed the agent, on your DPM server you will need to run the Create New Protection Group Wizard.  To configure the protection for this server.   If the virtual machine is clustered, expand the cluster names to see the virtual machines in that cluster.   There are also several ways to optimize your deployment take a look here: Optimizing Hyper-V protection

Recovering Your Data

When you leverage DPM you can recover your hyper-hosts, virtual machines to the same location, virtual machines to an alternate location and Item-level recovery (ILR) of Hyper-V virtual machines.  You can learn more about the recovery scenarios here:   Recovering Hyper-V data Depending on hat you want to recover your data the methods will change slightly between the methods.  What makes the procedures the virtual the same is the DPM recovery wizard is straight forward to use.  The only step that would be different would be on step 2 in the following procedure (you can take a look here: Recovering Virtual Server data):

  1. In DPM Administrator Console, click Recovery on the navigation bar.
  2. Depending on what you want to recover:
    1. Recover Virtual Machine: Browse or search for the virtual machine name you want to recover, and then, in the results pane, select the data.
    2. Recover Virtual Host: Browse or search for the virtual machine name you want to recover, and then, in the results pane, select the data.
  3. Available recovery points are indicated in bold on the calendar in the recovery points section. Select the bold date for the recovery point you want to recover.
  4. In the Recoverable item pane, click to select the virtual machine item you want to recover.
  5. In the Actions pane, click Recover. DPM starts the Recovery Wizard.
  6. Review your recovery selection, and then click Next.
  7. Select Recover to original instance, and then click Next. The current files will be overwritten during recovery.
  8. Specify your recovery options, and then click Next.
    1. Select Enable SAN-based recovery using hardware snapshots to use SAN-based hardware snapshots for quicker recovery.
      This option is valid only when you have a SAN where hardware snapshot functionality is enabled, the SAN has the capability to create a clone and to split a clone to make it writable, and the protected computer and the DPM server are connected to the same SAN.
    2. In the Notification area , click Send an e-mail when the recovery completes, and specify the recipients who will receive the notification. Separate the e-mail addresses with commas.
  9. Review your recovery settings, and then click Recover.

If you want to recover your virtual machines as files that will allow you to use another virtualization host.  Take a look at this article: Recovering virtual machines as files

If you have not taken a look at DPM before I would recommend take a look at this virtual lab to get you introduced to DPM (while the lab is dated, it is still good to take a look):

TechNet Virtual Lab: Data Protection Manager 2010: Technical Introduction to DPM 2010 

To learn more about the series and other parts please go here: Build Your Private Cloud in a Month - New Article Series