The evolution of VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 contains a large list of new features for the vCenter Server Appliance or VCSA.

One of the great new features that is supported with this release is additional protocols for the backup of the VCSA appliance as well as new Event Notifications that help to give visibility to the backup and restore operations related to the vCenter Server Appliance. These and other new features make this the most powerful VCSA appliance to date.

In this post we will take a look at the overhauled backup features found in VMware vSphere 6.7 Update vCenter Server Appliance and how this can be used to ensure peace of mind to know the vCenter configuration is protected.

Additionally, we will take a look at how this process fits in the overall vSphere management DR strategy.

New Protocols Added for vCenter Server Appliance VCSA Backup

VMware has been working hard on providing more functionality in the VAMI appliance.

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One feature that is a powerful component of the VAMI interface with the VCSA appliance is the ability to perform backups from the interface. From the introduction of the backups feature in the VAMI interface, VMware has provided the ability to support a few of the more common protocols such as FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, and SFTP. However, these mechanisms for backing up the vCenter Server Appliance were a bit less desirable in many environments as customers may not have had an FTP, FTPS, HTTP, HTTPS, or SFTP server running in production. There is also the matter of ensuring these are secure.

More common protocols in the enterprise include SMB and NFS. These protocols are generally found in most environments with Windows Servers and technologies running Samba and NFS in the environment. With VMware vSphere 6.7 Update vCenter Server Appliance VCSA, vSphere administrators have two new welcomed additions to the protocol list for performing backups of the VCSA appliance – NFS and SMB! This is a great day for VAMI-powered VCSA appliance backups.

New vCenter Server Appliance Backup Monitoring

VMware is showing they are getting more serious about the backup functionality, not only with the additional protocols found in this release, but also with the new backup monitoring found that allows seeing backup tasks being performed as well as any errors or issues the process may have encountered. Having the new-found visibility with the overall backup process will help vSphere administrators to feel more comfortable about the entire process.

Another feature this new capturing of backup events makes possible is, alerting based on the Alarm Definitions window. This means that vSphere administrators can configure both email alerting as well as SNMP traps for backup job operations as needed.

Configuring VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 VCSA Backups with New Protocols

In the following walkthrough, let’s take a look and see how to configure VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 VCSA backups using the NFS protocol which is one of the new protocols supported in this release for VCSA appliance backups.

Login to the VAMI interface found at the URL https://:5480.

Navigate to the Backup dashboard.

The three areas of interest as designated in the screen capture are:

  1. Backup Dashboard
  2. Configure Backups
  3. Backup Now

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Configuring Backups in the VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 VCSA appliance VAMI interface

The great thing about the backup functionality contained in the VMware vSphere 6.7 Update VCSA appliance is that it allows scheduling backups so the whole process is automated. This functionality was introduced in vSphere 6.5.

When you click on the Configure button you can then configure the scheduling options that you want for the automated backup process.

A few of the highlights of the configuration that is possible with the Backup Scheduler:

  • Passing the server connection credentials
  • Setting a backup schedule
  • Built-in backup encryption
  • Configuring Backup retention
  • Selecting the data you want to capture in the VCSA backup

As you can see below, we are using the NFS protocol to capture the VCSA appliance backup.

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Creating a VCSA backup schedule in the VAMI interface

Additionally, you can perform ad-hoc backups of the VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 VCSA appliance using the new protocols.

When you click the Backup Now button, you will see a screen presented to fill in the necessary information to perform a one-off backup of the VCSA appliance. This is great if you want to capture a quick backup of the VCSA appliance before an update or other maintenance operation that is outside of the normal backup window.

As you can see, it is a fairly straightforward process with entering the backup location, credentials, encryption password, and the data you want to capture.

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Performing a VCSA appliance backup using NFS in the vSphere 6.7 Update VAMI interface

Once you click the Start button, you can monitor the backup progress right from within the VAMI interface as the backup dashboard shows the real time progress of the process.

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Monitoring the progress of the vSphere 6.7 Update VCSA appliance backup

As mentioned, VMware vSphere 6.7 Update now captures these events in the monitoring section for vCenter Server.

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Monitoring backup jobs from the vCenter Server events page

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Backup job completed successfully found in the vCenter Server task monitoring

Image Level Backup vs File Level Backup

Using powerful vSphere backup solutions like Vembu BDR Suite, customers can capture an entire image-level backup of the vCenter Server Appliance which captures everything including data and the virtual machine itself. This is certainly a component of the vSphere management DR strategy that vSphere administrators want to give attention to.

The file-level backup functionality found in vSphere 6.7 Update 2 provides another really great option to augment the primary image-level backup functionality already being performed by capturing a backup of the VCSA appliance at the image level.

As with any DR strategy, you want to have more than one option to restore data. The image-level backup would be more desirable than the file-level backup from a time perspective as restoring the VCSA file-level backup will require provisioning a new VCSA virtual machine, restoring the backup, and bringing everything back online.

Once again, it still makes sense to have additional options to restore your vCenter Server appliance and this built-in technology from VMware helps to round out a robust data protection plan using solutions such as Vembu BDR Suite.

Concluding Thoughts

The new VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 2 VCSA appliance backup functionality adds great new features to the realm of native vCenter Server backups performed in the VAMI interface. These include the added NFS and SMB protocols for transferring backups from VCSA, new monitoring events captured in the events section for vCenter Server, and the ability to create customized alerting based off the alert definitions defined by vSphere administrators for backup events. This is great new functionality that allows more visibility and options for customers who are more likely running NFS and SMB protocols in the environment than other protocols supported previously.

Combined with robust data protection solutions like Vembu BDR Suite, customers can ensure a resilient DR strategy for their vSphere management environment.

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