vCenter Operations Manager and vSphere Data Protection Interop

I am currently involved in a project that looks at how we can back up and restore various components of the VMware vCloud Suite. One of these components is vCOps, vCenter Operations Manager. I wanted to verify that I could backup and restore vCOps with VDP, VMware’s Data Protection product. There were a couple of scenarios that I wished to test:

  1. Restore vCops VMs outside of a vApp construct and verify that it was still operational
  2. Restore vCOps VMs inside of a new vApp construct and verify that it was still operational
  3. Restore vCOps VMs inside of the original vApp construct and verify that it was still operational

Restoring VM outside of a vApp construct

If you already use VDP, and already use vApps, you will be aware that VDP does not currently backup and restore vApp constructs. Instead it backs up and restore the individual VMs within a vApp. I know this is something that we are looking at, but since VDP currently doesn’t do this, I had to look at whether or not vCops would continue to function if its VMs were restored outside of a vApp. This was the purpose of this first test.

vCops is made up of two VMs; the Analytics VM and the UI VM. Each VM has two disks. I created a backup schedule which backed up both VMs at the same time. When restoring vCops with VDP, it is important that both vCops VMs (and both disks on each VM) are restored together. Although there is no concept of a consistency grouping of VMs in VDP at this time, this method will allow some level of consistency between the Analytics and UI VMs. Here is the landing page from the restore tab of VDP (currently I am only backing up vCops VMs as you can see):

Restore Tab Landing PageAfter each VM name, there is a chevron (>). Click on this to display the list of backup candidates:

Backup ListingsOnce again, you will see a chevron (>) associated with the backup in question. Click on this to display the components that were backed up with this particular image backup. As you can see below, there were two disks backed up:

Hard disks per backup instanceFor each VM (Analytics and UI), both disks should be selected for restore. When they are selected, click on the << column to the very right of the restore screen to display a list of items to be restored:

Selected items for restoreThis shows us that there are two VMs to be restored, Analytics and UI, each with two disks. This is our vCops product set. So let’s now restore it, but restore it to a different location, not the original location. VDP allows us to do that.

During the restore process, restoring to the original location is the default option. By un-checking this default option in the restore wizard, you can now select a new location within the vCenter inventory, and a new datastore, on which to restore a VM or VMs. Here is a screen-shot showing just that:

Restore to a different locationIn this case I am restoring my vCops UI VM to a different location in the vCenter inventory.¬† By clicking on the ‘Choose’ button, I can select to restore to the cluster object rather than the vCops vApp. I am also restoring the VM to a VSAN datastore (a list of datastores is displayed via a drop down list). Later versions of both VDP and vCops are supported on VSAN – read more about VSAN interop here.

When the restore was completed, I powered off my currently running vCops vApp, and powered on these new stand-alone VMs (Analytics and UI). The analytics VM should be powered up first, followed by the UI VM once the Analytics has been up for approx 5 minutes or VMware Tools has started in the Analytics VM (this is the behaviour as per the vApp startup sequence). Both VMs came up OK and I was able to launch my vCops interface and monitor my vCenter.

However, now care is needed each time you wish to power on the vCops VMs. You will manually have to ensure that the Analytics VM is ready before powering on the UI VM. This is what the vApp structure gives you. Normally, you would not have to worry about this, you simply power on the vCops vApp and it takes care of the start-up sequence.

 Restoring vCops to a new vApp

What about a situation where your vCops needs to be restored, but the original vApp has been lost and you wish to restore the VMs to a new vApp, not as stand-alone VMs. You’ve seen in the previous example where stand-alone VMs can be used, but what if you wish to put back a vApp construct around your vCops VMs?

To test this out, I deployed a brand new vCops vApp with a new Analytics VM and a new UI VM. I then proceeded to restore my vCops VMs to this new vApp. The first issue I encountered with this test is that when I state that I wish to restore to a new location, I can select a different vApp, but I cannot select SCSI controller O:0 or 0:1 to overwrite the existing hard disks:

SCSI ControllerWhen I tried removing the original disks from the VM, I was unable to select it as a restore candidate for some reason (?). Therefore I simply restored the disks as SCSI controller 0:2 and SCSI controller 0:3 respective on both the Analytics VM and UI VM, and then modified the disk configurations of each VM when the restore has completed. When the restore completes, each VM will now have 4 disks, as shown below:

Four Disks per VMI deleted the original SCSI devices 0:0 and 0:1 (Hard disk 1 and Hard disk 2) on each VM, and then moved my restored disk 0:2 to 0:0, and my restored disk 0:3 to 0:1 (basically moving disk 3 & 4 to disk 1 and 2 positions). This can all be done via the Edit Settings tab of the VM post restore. Once this reconfiguration had been done on both VMs, I could then power up the vApp which will start both VMs, and my vCops application was functional once again.

Restoring vCops VMs to original location

My final test was to use the default setting and verify that my vCops could be returned to a particular point in time while the original vCops application is still in place. This is very straight forward, as you just leave the ‘Restore to default location’ check box selected during the restore process. This worked as expected, and when powered up, my vCops was fully functional after the restore.

Summary

In summary, I could do the following with VDP on vCops:

  • Backup vCops VMs
  • Restore vCops VMs as standalone VMs
  • Restore vCops VMs to a different vApp (with some additional groundwork)
  • Restore vCops VMs to original location

Question for readers?

How do you backup your vCloud Suite components? What tools/backup products do you use? How do you verify consistency and prove that your backups are valid. I’d really like to hear from you, so please leave a comment.