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Protecting Microsoft SQL Server on VMware vSphere Using a Single-Pass Backup

Virtualizing SQL Server on VMware vSphere and its public cloud incarnations such as VMware Cloud on AWS allows optimizing compute resources through server consolidation and maintaining application flexibility through role isolation, thereby taking advantage of a software-defined data center (SDDC) platform with its capabilities such as network and storage virtualization. It is no surprise that we see virtualized SQL Servers as a norm in enterprises. When it comes to protecting SQL Server database in a virtual environment, it makes sense to have your cake and eat it too – help me restore the entire SQL Server VM in cases of major disasters and ransomware attacks or help me with a point in time recovery of a database when we are hit with a software glitch. We can help with both!

One of the prerequisites is that the VMtools must be installed on the Virtual SQL Server instances (See Figure 1). Clumio interacts with Volume Shadow Copy Services (VSS) using VMtools and performs a copy-only backup, that does not disrupt the backup log chain of SQL-Server’s native backups, as long as the two backups don’t run into each other. With the arrival of vSphere 6.5, gone are the days of uncertainty in handling VSS writers via VMtools.

Figure 1: SQL-Server backup and recovery using Clumio

There are many advantages of using Clumio for SQL-Server data protection:

  • It is easy for your DBA, we are not interrupting the standard way of managing operational recoveries for SQL Server.
  • The SQL server can be fully restored from the Clumio backup as it is a database consistent copy-only backup. The full restores are incredibly straightforward, and it can be performed entirely without using SQL-Server native backups.
  • The recovery of virtual machines is lightning-fast, translating to significantly low Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Rapid Recovery is a set of innovations from Clumio that enables very fast operational restores from cloud storage while safeguarding on-premises workloads. It took just 5 minutes to recover an active SQL Server AG environment with 500GB of data with this feature.
  • Details on rapid recovery are available here and also see how a Microsoft MVP explains its value here.Figure 2: Recovery screen of the virtual machine
  • (Point-in-time recovery) The first approach is based on every day full and transaction log backups. Use Clumio’s recovery screen (shown in Figure 2) for a selected date and perform recovery. All the full backup and transaction log backups are present in the virtual machine’s local file system. This makes it very convenient to apply full backup and the corresponding transaction log backups to perform the point in time recovery.
  • (Point-in-time recovery) The second approach is based on a full backup, followed by differential and transaction log backups for each day. Since Clumio backups do not break the backup log chain, it is easy to apply full + differential + transaction log backups to do point in time recovery. Use Clumio’s recovery screen (shown in Figure 2) for a selected date and perform recovery. Again, all the full, differential, and transaction log backups are present in the VM’s local file system. This makes it very convenient to apply and play full and the corresponding transaction log backup to perform the point in time recovery.
  • Only elementary expiry scripts would be required to ensure that SQL-servers don’t run out of disk space as they store all of the backups in the local file system.

Summary:

When it comes to protecting SQL Server databases in a virtual environment, it makes sense to get the best of both worlds – a single backup copy that meets the performance demands of operational recovery and meeting resilience needs to serve in cases of natural disasters and security breaches. With Clumio, you have it all. Check out the whitepaper here to make it happen.

Krishna Satyavarapu

by Krishna Satyavarapu

Cloud Data Engineer

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