On-Demand Backup options for vRA Virtual Machines

This post provides a walk through of executing an on-demand Backup of a Virtual Machine owned by vRealize Automation, changing an existing VM Backup Policy, and adding Data Protection to an unprotected Virtual Machine using the DellEMC Data Protection Extension.

The ability to execute an on-demand backup of a vRA VM can be made available to the VM User in vRA, as shown below:

The backup in this case is an image-level backup. The first backup is a Full Backup, with subsequent backups only backing up incremental updates.
This backup process requires a VM snapshot to be created in order for an Avamar Proxy to access as a source for the backup.

To learn more about how we get to this point, of even having these VM Actions for Data Protection, have a look at Adding Data Protection to vRA VM Blueprints.

On-Demand Backup

As a VM User in vRA, click the Run Data Protection Action (as shown above), which will launch a form prompting you to select the backup type from the drop-down menu.

This drop-down menu display the current data protection policy as defined for that particular VM, but this current request will execute an on-demand backup which will be outside of, or in addition to, the existing backup schedule.

Select the existing Data Protection Policy, and click Submit

The status of the request will be available to monitor in the vRA Requests. It is possible to subject this or any on-demand request to Approval, for which another vRA User (Manager, Admin, etc) would need to approve.

The creation of the snapshot and interaction (snapshot image mounted and backed up) with the Avamar Proxy, as well as the subsequent snapshot removal, can be viewed under Recent Tasks in vCenter, as shown below:

Add Data Protection

The Add Data Protection Action can be used in 2 ways:

  • To protect an existing unprotected VM
  • To change the Data Protection Policy for an existing protected VM

Protect an Existing Unprotected VM

In order to add Data Protection Actions to an existing unprotected VM the VM User or User Group must be entitled to the Data Protection VM Actions. At that stage, the vRA VM User can then add the VM to a Data Protection Policy.

Take for example a vRA VM user (Steve), a member of a vRA Business Group (Operations) that currently does not have any entitlement to the Data Protection Actions. When Steve previously deployed VMs, those VMs did not have any Data Protection operations assigned to the VM Blueprint, and so would only have some standard out of the box vRA VM Actions as per his current Entitlement, for example Reboot, Shutdown, Power On, as shown below:

By changing the Entitlement for Steve (or the Operations User Group), then we can provide him with the ability to add that Data Protection to his VMs.

Adding the VM Action Add Data Protection to Steve’s Entitlement immediately provides him with the ability to add his VMs to a Data Protection Policy, as shown below:

Once the Add Data Protection Action is selected, the VM User will be presented with the ability to select from the available Data Protection Policies, as shown below:

From this form the VM User can see that their VM currently does not have any Data Protection Policy assigned to it, and can select their desired Data Protection Policy.

Once that short task completes successfully, the VM (Ops-001) is a member of that selected Data Protection Policy. In this example, we select the Daily Schedule. We can confirm this by running the Add Data Protection Action for that VM again and seeing the assigned Policy, or on the Avamar system itself, as shown below when viewing the Daily Data Protection Policy members:

Please note that at this stage the VM has not yet been backed up. It has only been added to the Backup Policy and is bound by the associated Backup Schedule, therefore will be backed up at the next run of the Daily Backup Schedule. if the user requires the ability to run on-demand backups, which are outside of the Policy schedule, then that Action can be assigned via the Entitlements.

Changing a VM’s Data Protection Policy

In order to change the existing Data Protection Policy for a protected VM, the user must first add the new Data Protection Policy to the VM. The vRA VM User can select the Add Data Protection, which will launch a dialog box, as shown below:

The user will be presented with information about how the VM is currently protected, in the form of the existing Data Protection Policy.

The user can then select a new Data Protection Policy from the drop-down list. Once selected, click Submit, and the new Data Protection Policy will be added to that VM.

At this stage the VM now has 2 Data Protection Policies assigned to it. If that is the desired outcome, then no further action required. Alternatively, if you only want the VM to have a single Data Protection Policy, then you will now have to remove the old Data Protection Policy. To do this, simply select the Remove Data Protection Action, which will launch the following form:

What changes here is the properties of the Data Protection Policy for the VM, specific to backup Schedule and Retention of future backups, as well as any other backup or replication details as specified in the new Data Protection Policy.

All previous VM backups performed by the previous Data Protection Policies will remain in place and available to restore from.

One topic to be aware of in all of this is that all VM backups are an individual backups of a single Virtual Machine, regardless of whether the VM was deployed as a member of a a multi-machine blueprint. I previously posted about this and associated restore considerations here.

This is the latest in a series of posts covering the topic of the Dell EMC Data Protection Extension for vRealize Automation. For related posts, and more context, please take a look at the following:

Hope that helps!

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