Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare

Installing a VMWare private cloud was a huge step in making my sysadmin life easier.  Then, adding Veeam backup and replication made it simple.

Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare

I have had to make several Disaster Recovery plans throughout the years.  Each time, I was looking to make is simple.  The last thing that you want to have to do during an emergency is think through cryptic difficult steps.  I had been using a free version of VMWare Vsphere 4 to help me consolidate machines, but always thought that it was out of question for my small IT budget.  One day, quite a while ago, I read about an Essentials Kit for vSphere on a spiceworks community forum and decided to look into it. If you haven’t looked into a vSphere Essentials Kit, the basic summary of it is that you can setup 3 hosts with VMWare esxi, with 6 CPU sockets total with unlimited cores, and now, unlimited RAM.  It gives you a vCenter license that allows you to control the 3 hosts.  They also have an Essentials Plus kit for vSphere that allows you to do all of this with a centralized disk store that all of your nodes can use.  I hope to write about it in another article someday.

Make Your Own Private Cloud

Because it was relatively inexpensive and I could move everyone of my free VMWare virtual machines over to a supported platform for about $500, plus the cost of the machines, I was able to get management support.  I downloaded the template to create a vCenter appliance on one of the three VMWare esxi hosts and set it up to manage the three esxi nodes.

VMware vSphere 5 Essentials provides cost-effective server consolidation and management for small offices –

Click here to learn more about the VMware vSphere 5 Essentials Bundle

I then used the VMWare vSphere Converter to migrate all of my virtual machines and several physical machines into vCenter and onto the three hosts. The VMWare vSphere Converter is basically a physical to virtual converter (P2V) that takes an administrator login and grabs your entire phyical machine, OS, data, the works and creates a virtual copy of it on one of your vCenter managed esxi hosts. The whole thing was pretty easy, it just took a little time.

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VMware vSphere Essentials Kit

The next thing that I needed was a way to backup and replicate my virtual machines.  I had read on the same spiceworks forum about Veeam Backup Essentials kits for small business that is designed to work directly with the VMWare vSphere Essentials kits.  I had to call the sales people and work out pricing.  After a couple of months of explanation and selling it to my management, I got the green light.

Veeam Backup installs on a windows machine or virtual machine.  You configure it with information to login to your vCenter and then it can replicate your virtual machines to a second vCenter.  Additionally, if you have enough disk space, you can configure Veeam to backup the VMs to either a disk local to the Veeam server or to a NAS or other datastore.  Luckily, I had a hosting center already setup with a small NAS.  I configured Veeam to backup my virtual machines to my NAS in the datacenter in another state.  The cool things about these backups is that I can now restore my VMs to a prior date or even run them directly from the backup while I recover them.  For replication, I took some old machines, installed another vSphere Essentials kit onto them, and used Veeam to replicate all of my virtual machines over.

VMWare + Veeam = Simple Disaster Recovery Plan for Small Business

If you look at the image below, you can see the whole thing layed out.  I used some of my VMs as an example.  This works really well if you are a small business with just a few priority systems.  With just one server, you can install all of your priority systems as virtual machines, then use Veeam to replicate them directly to a second machine.  You can also backup those virtual machines directly to local disk on the Veeam server or like I did, to a small NAS.  If your business has two offices connected by good bandwidth, or if you can work out a datacenter hosting plan, you can setup a pretty good DR plan for your business.

Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare and Veeam on a very small budget.

Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare and Veeam on a very small budget.

Disaster Recovery – So Simple

The whole thing really was simple and was pretty inexpensive considering that I was able to provide the simplest Disaster Recovery plan that we have ever implemented before.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section below, or go to the contact us tab above.  Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare and Veeam is the solution for a small business with little IT resources.

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Jeff has 20 years of professional IT experience, having done nearly everything in his roles of IT consultant, Systems Integrator, Systems Engineer, CNOC Engineer, Systems Administrator, Network Systems Administrator, and IT Director. If there is one thing he knows for sure, it is that there is always a simple answer to every IT problem and that downtime begins with complexity. Seasoned IT professional by day, Jeff hopes to help other IT professionals by blogging about his experiences at night on his blog: http://uptimemadeeasy.com. You can find Jeff on or LinkedIn at: LinkedIn or Twitter at: Twitter

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4 comments for “Disaster Recovery Made Simple With VMWare

  1. Eric
    January 6, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Hey Joe, I’m setting up a very similar DR Plan, as I read the VMWare license for Essentials Plus it only allows for 1 copy of VCenter. What I’m going to do is write the replications outside of vcenter and use the vsphere client to “manage” the DR host. I have not tried this yet so what is your thought on this setup?

  2. January 6, 2014 at 9:55 am

    You are right, each license of VMware Essentials or Essentials plus allows for 1 copy of vCenter each. In the plan I discussed in this article, I had two licenses and used Veeam to replicate from vCenter to vCenter which is the preferred method with Veeam. There are other 3rd parties that will replicate VMware like Zerto or even VMWare itself which each have their own requirements. You will want to choose your replication vendor before you finalize your vCenter / VMWare licensing to ensure that it is sufficient.

  3. Eduardo
    July 23, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Hello Joe, very interesting article. I think I understand the 80% of the process…just a couple of questions.

    You say you have 2 VMware vSphere Essentials Kit licences. Each licence allow you to have 3 ESXi host and 1 vCenter, right?
    In the picture you have the vCenter inside one ESXi…It’s a good choice run the vCenter inside one of those ESXi servers? Or its a better option run the vCenter in another phisical machine?

    About Veeam I understand this software can replicate the VMs of the first vCenter in another ESXi that is ruled by the second vCenter, it is correct?

    the last question. Veeam can do both? Replicate in another Esxi and backup the VMs in a NAS?

    Im new in this kind of deployments and will be nice if an expert say me im in the right path.

    Regards from Peru!

  4. July 23, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    Eduardo, The location of the vCenter doesn’t matter too much really. I like it on my VMWare cluster and the appliance is free. Rather that than to pay for another Windows Server license.

    As for the other questions, your assumptions about Veeam are correct.

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