With the release of its Backup & Replication product v7 Veeam finally added a feature that was repeatedly requested by a lot of customers although it might appear anachronistic to a lot of people: Tape integration. Today the primary backup target media is hard disk storage: Backup-to-disk allows not only for super-fast backup and (more importantly) restore, but also enables cost-saving features like de-duplication and compression of backup data. Virtualization-aware backup products like Veeam's even allow to start a VM directly from the backup storage without restoring it to the original location at first.
Tape though has still a right to exist: It is by far the cheapest, densest and most durable backup media, and it is removable. That means you can easily ship it to a safe location and/or use it for archiving. In certain industries there are regulatory requirements to keep data for up to 30 years - you won't use hard disks for such archives, but tape!
In this blog post I'm going to demonstrate the tape integration of Veeam v7. Since I do not have a real tape drive or even tape library available in my lab I will use a Virtual Tape Library (VTL) software, specifically the free QuadStor OpenSource VTL. With a VTL you do not use real physical tape drives, but hard disk space to emulate these. I personally do not see much value in using VTL software with Veeam, because it already does an excellent job in storing backups on hard disks, but for demonstration purposes Veeam v7 and the QuadStor VTL make up a really good combination. And it allows me to introduce both products at the same time.
Installing and configuring the QuadStor VTL software
The QuadStor VTL software runs on FreeBSD (8.3, 8.4, 9.x) and various Linux distributions (RHEL/CentOS 5.x/6.x, SLES 11, Debian 6.x/7.x). The current version (2.2.13 as of today) is available as binary downloads, but recently QuadStor announced that they will no longer provide these. For newer versions you will need to download the source code from Github and compile it on your own. No worries, this is well described here and works out of the box.
If you use the source code compiling and installing is one step. If you want to use the pre-compiled binaries of version 2.2.13 then you need to download the vtl-core and the vtl-itf package for your OS from the download page and install them following the instructions that are referenced on the VTL documentation page. I used this approach, and had no problems following the instructions, so I won't repeat them here.
I chose to install the SLES 11 SP2 package on a SLES 11 SP3 machine (because I already had a SLES11SP3 VM template available), and despite the minor version mismatch the installation went fine.
After a successful installation you can open the administration web interface by pointing your browser to the name or IP address of the machine that you installed upon. This interface is simple, but sophisticated enough to completely configure and manage the software:
|QuadStor OpenSource VTL administration main page|
Here are the required configuration steps to get you started:
1. (Optionally) create a Storage Pool
In the correspondent menu you can create additional Storage Pools from the hard disks that are attached to your machine or just use the already existing Default one. If you create a new one you can optionally enable the WORM (Write Once, Read Many times) flag to prevent any of the associated virtual tapes from being overwritten.
For this demo I created a new pool named POOL01 (with WORM disabled).
2. Add hard disks to storage pool
In the Physical Storage menu you add hard disks (complete disks, not partitions!) to a Storage Pool. I attached a new 128 GB disk to the VM and assigned that to POOL01.
3. Add a VTL
Now you can add a VTL in the Virtual Libraries menu. QuadStor is able to emulate various hardware tape libraries of ADIC, HP, IBM and Overland and tape drives of HP, IBM and Quantum. I had no preference here, but finally chose the HP StorageWorks ESL9000 library with 4x HP StorageWorks Ultrium 960 drives, because this was also used in Veeam's blog post announing the tape integration feature:
|Add a QuadStor VTL, Step 1|
|Add a QuadStor VTL, Step 2|
4. Adding Virtual Cartridges
Your new VTL will now be listed as a Configured VTL in the Virtual Libraries menu. Click on the View link there and you will be able to add virtual catridges (VCartridges) to it by clicking on the Add VCartridge button:
|Adding VCatridges to the QuadStor VTL|
The final result is shown here:
|Readily configure VTL with 4 drives and 8 cartridges|
The virtual LTO tapes that I added above have a size of 400 GB by default, but QuadStor allows us to set a custom VCartridge size (see their documentation Configuring a Virtual Tape Library). Since the disk space that I used for testing is limited I decided to set a custom size of only 8 GB.
Connecting the VTL to the Veeam B&R server
The virtual tape drives can be accessed in multiple ways: either as local drives on the machine that runs the QuadStor VTL software, or by remote machines via Fibre Channel, Infiniband or iSCSI. Since my QuadStor server is a VM I could only use iSCSI, and this is also the access method that is the easiest to configure.
I have Veeam v7 installed on a virtual Windows Server 2012 that has built-in iSCSI initiator support. Here is a quick walk-through of using it to connect the VTL devices:
1. In the Server Manager launch the iSCSI Initiator tool:
2. If the iSCSI Service is not already running then you will be prompted to start it. Then the iSCSI Initiator Properties windows will open:
3. Do a Quick Connect... to the name or IP address of the QuadStor VTL machine:
4. Connect all the devices shown: The autoloader and four drives in our case.
That's all for the iSCSI configuration. The devices will be automatically defined as Favorite Targets, that means from now on they will also be re-connected at every reboot.
Please note: By default no iSCSI CHAP secrets are defined in the QuadStor software, so you do not need to enter usernames and passwords for the iSCSI connections. However, you can change that for every single tape drive in the VTL Information view of the QuadStor web interface.
5. Check connected devices and install drivers if necessary
If you open the Device Manager then you will see the newly connected devices there: A Medium Changer Device and the four Tape Drives. However, in our case the first one is displayed as Unknown Medium Changer:
That means you first need to install suitable device drivers. An unknown device will not be usable with Veeam v7!
For our virtual HP StorageWorks Library you need to download the HP StoreEver Tape drivers. Extract them and update the drivers in the Device Manager by pointing it to the extracted sub directory that matches your Windows version (w2k12-x64 in my case). Do this for the Medium Changer and all Tape Drives, and the picture will finally change to the following:
Configure the VTL in Veeam B&R
Disclaimer: The following will not be a complete guide on how to handle and use tapes in Veeam, but I will just show you the steps that I used during my tests plus some screenshots that will give you an idea of what is possible.
Now let's look at how our VTL is displayed in the Veeam B&R console: Open the Backup Infrastructure view there and scroll down to the Tape tree. You will see the HP ESL9000 VTL listed there and below that are the folders Drives (containing the four tape drives), Media (listing all cartridges) and Media Pools. Media Pools are used to group cartridges - a backup job will always be associated with a Media Pool rather than with a single cartridge.
Initially all new cartridges are shown as Unrecognized. In a first step I marked them as "Free" using the context menu (right mouse-click) of the cartridge objects:
|Marking tapes as "Free" in Veeam v7|
|Creating a new media pool|
Backing up to the VTL
1. Creating a Tape Job
Now you are ready to actually use the virtual tapes for backup. To create a new Tape job right-click on Jobs in the Backup and Replication view and open the Tape Job menu:
|Creating a Tape Job in Veeam v7|
- Copy the backup file of a traditional backup-to-disk job or from an existing backup repository (Backups To Tape...)
- Copy individual files from a server that is managed by Veeam directly to tape (Files to Tape...)
Note: You can not backup a complete VM directly to tape (because tape is considered a secondary backup target only).
2. Backup To Tape
Before doing this test I created a regular Backup-to-disk job (named VMBackup Job) that backs up four small VMs to the standard repository. My Backup To Tape job will now write the backup file(s) of this job to tape. You select them on the first screen of the corresponding wizard:
|Starting the New Backup To Tape Job wizard|
|Selecting the Media Pool for a Backup To Tape job|
If you run the job now then it will produce a log output that looks like the following:
|Log screen of Backup To Tape job|
The data of each backup session is organized in so-called Media sets. For this job we now have a set of four tapes that also have been automatically added to the associated Media Pool. You can check and see this in the Tape / Media Pools view of the Veeam Console:
|Media Pool view of used cartridges|
If you decide to create a new File To Tape job then you will be able to select an instance from the list of servers that you have added to the Managed Servers view of the Backup Infrastructure. In my lab I have added my OwnCloud Linux server here:
|Selecting a managed server for a File to Tape job|
|Browsing files for a File To Tape job|
In the remaining screens of the wizard you select a Media Pool and a schedule for full and incremental backups, plus some advanced backup options (like the use of MS Volume Shadow copies to back up open files from Windows servers).
What about Restore?
Of course I also tested the restore process, and it worked quite smoothly. I won't go into much detail here ... just some words about how the process works:
Restoring a full VM from a Backup to Tape job happens in two steps: First the backup file is read from tape and written to a standard Veeam repository. Then this file is restored just like with the standard process that is also used for regular backups to disk. So, just like the backup cannot be done directly to tape the restore can also not be done directly from tape.
In contrast restores of File to Tape backups can be done directly from tape. You initiate them from the Files view of the Veeam console. Folders and files can be restored to the original or any other managed server and into the original or any other directory.
In this post I introduced you to the free and open source QuadStor VTL software and used it to showcase the new Tape integration feature of Veeam v7. I think that the tape integration is a very valuable addition to the Veeam Backup software and it has been implemented in a very straight forward, easy-to-use way. If you want to go beyond the quick overview that I provided here then I suggest that you try it on your own and implement Veeam in a test lab. If you are not using Veeam already you can download a free 30-days-trial from their web site.
I also want to encourage you to take a closer look at QuadStor. A while ago I already introduced their free and powerful Storage Virtualization product, and you can even combine this with their VTL product to add compression and de-duplication for backup data.
This post first appeared on the VMware Front Experience Blog and was written by Andreas Peetz. Follow him on Twitter to keep up to date with what he posts.