Snapshots with vCloud Director 5.1 and VADP

Backup is hot topic when discussing your vCloud Director architecture setup. Until recently there was no real integration with vCloud Director and most backup vendors. Most of them could backup vCloud vApps, but did so without the metadata that is required to restore the vApp in the vCloud (i.e. which organization, which organizational vDC, etc.)

Over the last period several vendors have come up with an vCD 5.1  integrated solution, which is of course great for everybody running vCloud Director.

More information on backing up vApps for vCD Tenants can be found in the VMware whitepaper here.

Most backup products use vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP). VADP uses snapshots to create backups of running virtual machines in a vApp. This is were it becomes challenging. vCloud Director 5.1 will only support one snapshot (see here for more info).

So what happens when VADP takes a snapshot?

The snapshot action by VADP will commit the already existing snapshot of the virtual machine. This results in a single VMDK being backed up to the backup solution. In the event of a restore the backup solution will restore the consolidated virtual machine. The last state known, but without the snapshot.

Take this into account when designing your vCloud Director backup solution. Ask your backup solution provider what the backup solution does in the event that it recognises a snapshot. For now it would be better to skip / create a warning in the event of snapshot detection within vCD.

VXLAN Explained

As IT organizations to move to a converged infrastructure and service-oriented model, many are finding that current data center networking architectures are a limiting factor. VLAN-based switching models have a long history, but suffer from the following challenges in the data center:

* Inflexibility: VLAN and switching boundaries are not flexible nor easily extensible. As requirements grow or shrink, compute and storage resources need to be allocated without major operational overhead.

* Operationally Inefficient Fault Tolerance: High-availability technologies such as VMware Fault Tolerance work best with “flat” Layer 2 networks, but creating and managing this architecture can be operationally difficult, especially at scale.

* VLAN and IP Address Management Limitations: IP address maintenance and VLAN limits become challenges as the data center scales, particularly when strong isolation is required or in service provider environments.

To solve this challenge, VMware, in partnership with leading networking and silicon vendors including Cisco Systems, has created the VXLAN technology. VXLAN is a method for “floating” virtual domains on top of a common networking and virtualization infrastructure. By leveraging industry-standard Ethernet technology, large numbers of virtual domains can be created above an existing network, with complete isolation from each other and the underlying network.

VXLAN offers the following benefits:

* Flexibility: Datacenter server and storage utilization and flexibility is maximized through the support of “stretched clusters” that cross switching and pod boundaries

* Streamlined Network Operations: VXLAN runs on standard Layer 3 IP networks, eliminating the need to build and manage a large Layer 2 underlying transport layer.

* Investment Protection: VXLAN runs over standard switching hardware, with no need for software upgrades or special code versions on the switches

The video below give a nice, easy to understand, technical overview of VXLAN in just 4 minutes.

Source for the text can be found here.

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