VMware Consolidated Backup: When should you use it?

VMware Consolidated Backup enables fast virtual machine backup, but it's not recommended for vSphere backup. Here's the drill on how and when to use VMware VCB.

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What is VMware Consolidated Backup?
VMware Consolidated Backup offers the ability to take fast and efficient backups of virtual machines (VMs).

But VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) isn't what you might envision as the typical backup application. Instead, VCB is a handful of Windows-executable programs for data protection that allow you to back up VMware guest machines from the command line.

Most VCB users use VCB in conjunction with their existing enterprise data backup application. This is done with a series of "integration scripts" that VMware offers for most of the popular backup programs.

The latest version of VCB is version 1.5 Update 1, which is compatible with VMware Infrastructure (VI) suite (or ESX 3.5) and vSphere 4, the latest version of VMware virtualization.

VCB is installed on a Windows server that acts as a backup proxy server to the VMware infrastructure. Backup software then goes to the Windows server running VCB to backup virtual machines that are located in the Virtual Machine File System (VMFS). VCB provides the access to the VMware VMFS file system, which typical backup applications would not understand.

Using VCB for disaster recovery
If you need to perform disaster recovery to ensure business continuity, the virtual machines that were backed-up with VCB can run on any restored ESX host server.

For those who are interested in vSphere 4, it is not advisable to use VCB. Instead, you should use one of these two options:

  1. VMware Data Recovery (or vDR):a graphical application o back up and restore virtual machines
  2. VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection (or VADP): - a set of interfaces used by third-party backup vendors to enablebackup applications to efficiently interface with vSphere

VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection is included with all commercial editions of the vSphere suite, starting with Essentials. VMware Data Recovery is included with the Essentials Plus, Advanced, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus vSphere Editions.

For more information, read about Consolidated Backup at VMware's Consolidated Backup product page and, for more technical information, read the VMware Consolidated Backup Documentation page. Finally, for specific information on how to back up virtual machines through a variety of methods, read the VMware virtual machine backup guide.

About the author
David Davis is the director of infrastructure at TrainSignal.com – the global leader in video training for IT pros. He has several certifications including vExpert, VMware Certified Profession (or VCP), CISSP, and CCIE #9369. Additionally, Davis has authored hundreds of articles and six video training courses at Train Signal, where one of the most popular course is the VMware vSphere 4 video training course. His website is VMwareVideos.com. You can follow Davis on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.
This was first published in November 2009

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