New Backup and Disaster Recovery System

As you know, we run most of our systems on virtual machines on top of a VMWare ESXi 4.1 cluster, which is located at the University of London Computer Centre off Russell Square. The cluster runs with a SAN (disk array) providing  20TB of storage (in RAID10 format for speed) for virtual machine operating systems and data.

In order to further protect ourselves and our partners from loss of data and service, we have just installed a new backup system comprising:

1) Veeam Backup & Replication software on the VMWare cluster

2) A system with approximately 24TB of disks in RAID6 format housed in a Dell MD1000 disk enclosure which allows for upto 2 concurrent disk failures.

This is headed by a Dell PowerEdge 2950 and is located in our department in Drury Lane. The fact that our Drury Lane site and ULCC are 1/2 mile apart gives us a certain measure of protection in the unlikely event that our equipment at ULCC should suffer a catastrophic failure.

Veeam Backup efficiently makes incremental backups (and a forced full backup every month), de-duplicates and compresses data then sends it over the college network to the Drury Lane system for long term storage.

Veeam excels at disaster recovery – it can allow a virtual server to be powered up directly from backup and then migrated to production disks whilst running. It also allows individual file recovery from any of the incremental copies that currently exist on disk.

The system is configured to keep old decommissioned and deleted virtual machines for 6-12 months (depending on space) and to hold 31 days worth of incremental backup points in case we need to retrieve a file from a particular point in time.

Backups are generally run every night with a few critical systems having a second run in the daytime.

It should be noted that Veeam only backs up virtual machines on our VMWare cluster. It cannot perform ad hoc backups of any physical machines. For the 5 other physical servers, other provisions will be made, based on open source software (rsync).

Tim Watts
Systems Manager

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