Basics – NMC VMware Viewer

 Basics, vProxy  Comments Off on Basics – NMC VMware Viewer
Nov 222017
 

As you might have noticed in other posts, I’m a big fan of using NVP (NetWorker Virtual Proxy – also referred to as vProxy) to backup VMware virtual machines. Introduced with NetWorker 9.2, the new VMware image backup system is lightweight and fast – both for backup and recovery operations.

One of other things you’ve probably noticed, using NetWorker, is that it’s all about giving you options on how to do things. At one point that was simply a choice between using the GUI, doing interactive command line operations, or scripted command line operations. More recently, the REST API was introduced, giving an additional level of interaction, ideal for private cloud or devops style environments.

In VMware environments, NetWorker also gives some flexibility between whether you want to use the vSphere Web UI (ideal for VMware administrators), or the above NetWorker options – GUI/NMC, CLI, CLI-scripted or REST API. But one of the real hidden gems, I think, is the VMware View section in NMC. This lets you start tackling a VMware environment from a “big picture” point of view, and that’s what I want to run through in this blog post.

First, let’s set the scene – you access the VMware View panel under the Protection tab in NMC:

VMware View 01 NMC

Finding VMware View in NMC

VMware View is in its own area, as you can see there. Now, you can still do VMware policy configuration, etc., as part of the standard Policies and Groups configuration areas, and indeed you’ll need to do at least some preliminary setup via standard policy/workflow management. However, once you’ve got the framework in place, VMware View gives you a fantastic way of quickly and simply interacting with your VMware environment. If you expand out the view, you’ll get details of vCenter servers/clusters and the defined datacentres. For my home lab, it’s pretty straight forward:

VMware View 02 Datacentres

vCenters/Datacentres in VMware View

Once you’ve selected a vCenter or Datacentre, you can start to visually see your virtual machine layout and the protection policies virtual machines are protected to. Here’s my home lab view, for instance:

vCenter System Tree

vCenter System Tree

The layout of that is straight forward – home is the virtual Datacentre, and there’s two ESX servers in the environment – kobol and tauron (astute observers will note I have a penchant for (mostly) naming systems after fictional planets, or at least things associated with science fiction. I am, after all, an adherent to RFC 1178).

You’ll see the resource groups for virtual machines as well, and over on the right from the virtual machines, you’ll see the individual policies, with dotted line connections running from protected virtual machines to the policies. You’ll also note there’s a [+] mark next to virtual machines and policy names, and [–] options in places as well. The [+] mark lets you expand out details – for a virtual machine, that’ll expand out to show the individual disks contained within the virtual machine (very useful if you only want to backup specific disks in the VM):

Expanded Virtual Machine View

Expanded Virtual Machine View

The [–] lets you effectively select an area of the configuration you want to focus on – it’ll highlight the entire tree for just that section, regardless of whether it’s a VMware resource group or an individual ESX server. In this case, for a resource group, you see:

VMware View Component Focus

VMware View Component Focus

The graphical view (I’ll call it a system tree) is handy in itself, but there’s some options to the right that can help you really focus on things you might need to do:

VMware View Quick Details

VMware View Quick Details

Here you get to see a zoomed out map of the system tree (and can control the zoom level on the system tree proper), but you can also choose to quickly jump between viewing specific things of high interest, viz.:

  • All virtual machines
  • All protected virtual machines
  • All unprotected virtual machines
  • All overprotected virtual machines
  • Any virtual machines that can’t be protected.

The initial system tree I showed earlier was the ‘All’ option. The most important view you can get in my opinion is the “VMs Unprotected” – this lets you focus only on those virtual machines that haven’t been added to protection policies:

Unprotected virtual machines

Unprotected virtual machines

Of course, you don’t have to jump back to the regular protection policies if you spot a virtual machine that you need adding to a protection policy. Any virtual machine in any view can be right-clicked on to expose the option to add or remove it to/from a protection policy:

Adjusting VM protection

Adjusting VM protection

From there you just click ‘Add to Group’ to add a virtual machine into a group, and by extension most likely, into an actual protection policy.

The over protected virtual machine view will show you virtual machines that belong to more than one policy:

Overprotected virtual machines

Overprotected virtual machines

The “VMs cannot be protected” view will show you any virtual machines which cannot be added to protection policies. In my environment, that’s just the virtual proxy machine itself:

VMs unable to be protected

VMs unable to be protected

And finally, you can view virtual machines that are members of protection policies:

Protected virtual machines

Protected virtual machines

The VMware View option in NMC really is quite straight forward to use, but knowing it’s there, and knowing what you can quickly see and do is a real boon for busy NetWorker administrators and operators. Don’t forget to ensure it’s in your collection of tools if you’re protecting VMware!

Basics – Using the vSphere Plugin to Add Clients for Backup

 NetWorker, NVP, vProxy  Comments Off on Basics – Using the vSphere Plugin to Add Clients for Backup
Jul 242017
 

It’s a rapidly changing trend – businesses increasingly want the various Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) running applications and essential services to be involved in the data protection process. In fact, in the 2016 Data Protection Index, somewhere in the order of 93% of respondents said this was extremely important to their business.

It makes sense, too. Backup administrators do a great job, but they can’t be expected to know everything about every product deployed and protected within the organisation. The old way of doing things was to force the SMEs to learn how to use the interfaces of the backup tools. That doesn’t work so well. Like the backup administrators having their own sphere of focus, so too do the SMEs – they understandably want to use their tools to do their work.

What’s more, if we do find ourselves in a disaster situation, we don’t want backup administrators to become overloaded and a bottleneck to the recovery process. The more those operations are spread around, the faster the business can recover.

So in the modern data protection environment, we have to work together and enable each other.

Teams working together

In a distributed control model, the goal will be for the NetWorker administrator to define the protection policies needed, based on the requirements of the business. Once those policies are defined, enabled SMEs should be able to use their tools to work with those policies.

One of the best examples of that is for VMware protection in NetWorker. Using the plugins provided directly into the vSphere Web Client, the VMware administrators can attach and detach virtual machines from protection policies that have been established in NetWorker, and initiate backups and recoveries as they need.

In the video demo below, I’ll take you through the process whereby the NetWorker administrator defines a new virtual machine backup policy, then the VMware administrator attaches a virtual machine to that policy and kicks it off. It’s really quite simple, and it shows the power that you get when you enable SMEs to interact with data protection from within the comfort of their own tools and interfaces. (Don’t forget to ensure you switch to 720p/HD in order to see what’s going on within the session.)


Don’t forget – if you find the NetWorker Blog useful, you’ll be sure to enjoy Data Protection: Ensuring Data Availability.

NetWorker 9.1 FLR Web Interface

 NVP, Recovery, vProxy  Comments Off on NetWorker 9.1 FLR Web Interface
Apr 042017
 

Hey, don’t forget, my new book is available. Jam packed with information about protecting across all types of RPOs and RTOs, as well as helping out on the procedural and governance side of things. Check it out today on Amazon! (Kindle version available, too.)


In my introductory NetWorker 9.1 post, I covered file level recovery (FLR) from VMware image level backup via NMC. I felt at the time that it was worthwhile covering FLR from within NMC as the VMware recovery integration in NMC was new with 9.1. But at the same time, the FLR Web interface for NetWorker has also had a revamp, and I want to quickly run through that now.

First, the most important aspect of FLR from the new NetWorker Virtual Proxy (NVP, aka “vProxy”) is not something you do by browsing to the Proxy itself. In this updated NetWorker architecture, the proxies are very much dumb appliances, completely disposable, with all the management intelligence coming from the NetWorker server itself.

Thus, to start a web based FLR session, you actually point your browser to:

https://nsrServer:9090/flr

The FLR web service now runs on the NetWorker server itself. (In this sense quite similarly to the FLR service for Hyper-V.)

The next major change is you no longer have to use the FLR interface from a system currently getting image based backups. In fact, in the example I’m providing today, I’m doing it from a laptop that isn’t even a member of the NetWorker datazone.

When you get to the service, you’ll be prompted to login:

01 Initial Login

For my test, I wanted to access via the Administration interface, so I switched to ‘Admin’ and logged on as the NetWorker owner:

02 Logging In as Administrator

After you login, you’re prompted to choose the vCenter environment you want to restore from:

03 Select vCenter

Selecting the vCenter server of course lets you then choose the protected virtual machine in that environment to be recovered:

04 Select VM and Backup

(Science fiction fans will perhaps be able to intuit my host naming convention for production systems in my home lab based on the first three virtual machine names.)

Once you’ve selected the virtual machine you want to recover from, you then get to choose the backup you want to recover – you’ll get a list of backups and clones if you’re cloning. In the above example I’ve got no clones of the specific virtual machine that’s been protected. Clicking ‘Next’ after you’ve selected the virtual machine and the specific backup will result in you being prompted to provide access credentials for the virtual machine. This is so that the FLR agent can mount the backup:

05 Provide Credentials for VM

Once you provide the login credentials (and they don’t have to be local – they can be an AD specified login by using the domain\account syntax), the backup will be mounted, then you’ll be prompted to select where you want to recover to:

06 Select Recovery Location

In this case I selected the same host, recovering back to C:\tmp.

Next you obviously need to select the file(s) and folder(s) you want to recover. In this case I just selected a single file:

07 Select Content to Recover

Once you’ve selected the file(s) and folder(s) you want to recover, click the Restore button to start the recovery. You’ll be prompted to confirm:

08 Confirm Recovery

The restore monitor is accessible via the bottom of the FLR interface, basically an upward-pointing arrow-head to expand. This gives you a view of a running, or in this case, a complete restore, since it was only a single file and took very little time to complete:

09 Recovery Success

My advice generally is that if you want to recover thousands or tens of thousands of files, you’re better off using the NMC interface (particularly if the NetWorker server doesn’t have a lot of RAM allocated to it), but for smaller collections of files the FLR web interface is more than acceptable.

And Flash-free, of course.

There you have it, the NetWorker 9.1 VMware FLR interface.


Hey, don’t forget, my new book is available. Jam packed with information about protecting across all types of RPOs and RTOs, as well as helping out on the procedural and governance side of things. Check it out today on Amazon! (Kindle version available, too.)


 

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