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Tuesday, 2 February 2016

VMware 3PAR integrated backups

HPE recently added a feature to Data Protector which will appeal to customers running VMware and using 3PAR storage. You can now backup your VMware environment by taking 3PAR snapshots and then backing up the snapshot. This reduces load on your VMware environment. You can also leave the snapshot around in case you want to do a fast restore.

If you already have licenses for 3PAR snapshots (which most customers do) and you are using a Data Protector capacity license (which most recent customers are) then you can do this for free.

(Customers using Data Protector classic license need to pay for a ZDB license but they are surprisingly cheap.)

I've got a customer doing this right now, and they are getting around 250MB/s of backup speed (this is LAN-free, with a relatively old Windows server mounting the snapshot and then writing to a D2D4700 using Catalyst-over-Fibrechannel).

The documentation has a few holes (such as neglecting to mention that you need to use omnidbzdb --ompasswd to tell Data Protector which 3PAR account to use) but overall it seems to be more reliable than traditional VMware snapshots.

Here's the backup flow:

  • Prepare all the virtual machines
    • Tell VMware to snapshot the VMDK
    • Tell the 3PAR to snapshot the LUN the VMDK is on.
    • Tell VMware to release the VMDK snapshot
    • Mount the LUN snapshot on a spare ESXi server (which can be part of the Vsphere environment, it just has to be explicitly also imported into to the client list)
    • Mount the snapshot LUN on a physical host that has access to the 3PAR storage and your backup device
    • Tell VMware to make a virtual machine (named after the original virtual machine)
    • Attach the VMDK on that snapshot LUN to the new virtual machine
  • Backup the virtual machines
    • Tell the ESXi server to snapshot the VMDK (dumb, I know)
    • The backup host reads from the LUN, and writes to the StoreOnce
    • Unmount the LUN from the backup host
    • Tell the ESXi server to release the VMDK snapshot
  • Clean up each virtual machine
    • Destroy the virtual machines on the ESXi server.
    • Destroy the LUN snapshot on the 3PAR

If this is something you want to do -- and it really does work very well -- let me know and I can organise licenses and/or implementation for you.

Greg Baker is an independent consultant who happens to do a lot of work on HPE DataProtector. He is the author of the only published books on HP Data Protector ( He works with HPE and HPE partner companies to solve the hardest big-data problems (especially around backup). See more at IFOST's DataProtector pages at, or visit the online store for Data Protector products, licenses and renewals at