One thing that I just learned overnight is that you really should keep an eye on the Snapshots in ESX/vSphere. We are running the AVVI backups from Backup Exec 2010, and it uses the vSphere storage APIs to do it’s business. BE has vSphere run a snapshot by calling the API and then it grabs that snapshot and sends it to whatever your backup medium is.
In the past I have seen where a snapshot gets left behind and not deleted. Last night I started getting paged from our monitoring system that one of our AD servers was offline. After having to jump through some hoops to get in via VPN (because the AD server was the one used to authenticate and give DHCP to VPN users) I was able to get onto the ESX server. There I saw that the snapshots had hogged up all available disk space on the ESX box and my AD server was stalled as a result. It turns out that the snapshots for my Exchange server were piled up and I had to delete them. Once there was free space again my AD server was back online and everything is OK again.
Now I need to figure out a way to monitor my ESX server for datastore space so that this does not happen again.
This may seem obvious to everyone else out there, but it wasn’t to me. I am testing a new Exchange 2010 server running in VMWare and am experimenting with backups. I have the whole server backed up using BE AVVI, but wanted the granular restore of mailboxes and messages, so I was also running a job where I selected just the Exchange database. When I went in to do a test restore the Microsoft Information Store showed up in the list with two distinct entries. The properties looked slightly different but the data was the same.
It took me a little time to realize that I was duplicating my Exchange data by having those two backups (duh!), so I turned off my specific Exchange job and just left it with the AVVI job only. What I didn’t realize was that just having the AVVI job would allow me the granular restores of messages from Exchange.
Recently we performed our annual Disaster Recovery test. We have learned something very valuable every year and tried to adjust our recovery plans accordingly, with this year being no different. Even with all the new technology, DR still seems to be a tricky undertaking.
The first year we tested our plan we found that we really, really, REALLY, don’t want to restore Active Directory onto unlike hardware. The following year we had gotten a node onto our MPLS cloud which allowed us to have a replicated AD server at the DR site. This greatly reduced the problem of restoring AD. The year after that we tested our phone system portion of the DR plan and discovered that working with the telco in a DR situation will be challenging at the very least. In the two years since that second test there have been some major changes that removed our ability to have replicated AD, so we were back to square one on that front.
This year we thought we would do a restore of our two year old VMWare environment. We had decided to keep the scope to restoring only “Tier 0” service. This included VMWare ESX , Symantec BackupExec, vSphere, and AD. Time permitting we planned to restore as many servers as possible beyond the Tier 0 that were the bare minimum.
In the last year we had made the choice to purchase Symantec’s BackupExec Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI). This is a BackupExec agent that allows you to backup VMWare Guest OS files directly through the ESX server and/or SAN. The idea is that we would have our virtualized servers backed up to tape at the VMWare file level and that this would allow us to restore directly back to ESX. Continue reading DR Test Results →
A large part of our PCI and SAS70 compliance is to maintain, and test, a comprehensive and viable Disaster Recovery / Business Continuity plan. As part of this we will be conducting our annual test of the Technology Availability Plan of our DR plan this coming Friday. A co-worker and I will be flying to Scottsdale, Arizona where our contracted Disaster Recovery Vendor has it’s data-center that is stipulated for us.
For this test we will be testing VMWare and our ability to recover our vSphere environment. We will have 3 servers in the test. The first will be a Windows machine that we will use to install our backup environment and restore data from tape. The other two machines will be ESX servers that we will setup and configure as our VM hosts. We will then restore vCenter Server from tape as well as several other critical servers that we call “Tier 0”.
Tier 0 for our DR Plan consists of critical servers that are required to bring the rest of our environment back online in a disaster. These include, Active Directory, Backup, and a few other infrastructure services that are needed before anything else can be restored.
We hope to have a successful test, and also hope to uncover roadblocks before they become issues in a real world scenario.
We’re experiencing a weird pop-up message on our BackupExec 2010 server. Every morning (after backups have run) we get a string of errors from Windows indicating that there was an error with the Registry Hive. The error reads like this:
“Registry hive (file:) C:\WINDOWS\vmware-SYSTEM\vixmntapiXX was corrupted and it has been recovered. Some data might have been lost.”
This error message is there every morning, and there will be anywhere from 10-20 of them that we have to click through. The only thing that changes is the XX is a number that increments. As near as I can tell there is nothing wrong with the system and there are no symptoms of trouble other than the messages.
Going off the error message itself, and the fact that BE was running without this error until I turned on VMWare backups, I suspect that this is an error with the Agent for VMware Virtual Infrastructure (AVVI) otherwise know as the VMWare Agent. I’ve tried some Googling and haven’t come up with much relating to this error specifically. At this point its really just an annoyance as we have not see anything that would indicate an issue. I’m just crossing my fingers that restores of data from AVVI will actually work!
We’re doing our Disaster Recovery Test this Friday so we’ll know pretty quick if these VMWare backups will work or not! I guess we’ll find out.