Let there be backups – someday

I have been chasing the holy-grail of backups for some time now. The goal is to backup the VMWare guests over the SAN to a de-duplication appliance that is on the ethernet. Once the VMDK files are backed up perform a some sort of catalog of the contents. When its done I should be able to restore an entire machine or an individual file. It would also be nice to backup and restore Active Directory, Exchange, and SQL.


When we upgraded to Symantec BackupExec 2010 R3 we purchased the VMWare agent. It worked, but not 100%. We have a Windows server that violates all reasonable expectations. It has multiple VMDK files spanned together as a 6 TB Windows dynamic disk. Symantec supposedly released a patch but I never tested it, I just assumed it would be rolled into BE 2012.

I was wrong.

I decided to go on an upgrade spree. I upgraded my VMWare vSphere from 4.1 to 5.1, Symantec BackupExec from 2010 R3 to 2012, and add a pair of ExaGrid deduplication appliances. ExaGrid uses OST which comes with the de-duplication option from Symantec.

I was so wrong.

Always check the Software Compatibility List. I didn’t and it bit me in the butt. Symantec currently doesn’t support vSphere 5.1. They also do not support GPT partitioned dynamic disks.

I can backup a virtual machine, but not using Granular Recovery Technology (GRT). I did find that if I backed the virtual machine up from a specific ESXi host that GRT works, except for my big server. That still doesn’t work.  Neither does AD, Exchange, or SQL.  So really I have no real backups.  Symantec recommends I backup the VM without GRT for full server restore and backup files using the regular Windows Agent for individual file restore.

The lesson here is do not listen to sales people. They are all nice enough and mean well, but they don’t have the answers. Do your homework and your own research into what you are trying to accomplish.