Fast cloning slow down after Windows CU May 2018

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Some users report slowing down synthetic fulls or other fast cloning related operations on ReFS filesystems after installing the latest Windows Server 2016 cummulative update in May 2018. The factor can be 3-10x.

This is obviously related to a new version of the ReFS driver that is included in the 05-2018 update. Microsoft ist aware of the problem and is currently working on it. It could be in conjunction with other patches that address Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities but currently there is no other workaround to get higher perfomance than either uninstall 05-2018 CU or replace the ReFS driver with the version from February. The "fast" version from February is 10.0.14393.2097, the new and probably slower version is 10.0.14393.2248.

Updates for MS SQL Server break Veeam functionality

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The last few posts about patches introducing problems with Veeam were mainly focused on VMware patches or better said, VMware bugs. This time, Microsoft released some patches for their SQL server products that will hit Veeam in doing it's job correctly.

To be more precise, their latest updates for SQL Server 2012 SP2 (CU7), SQL Server 2014 RTM (CU10) and SQL Server 2014 SP1 (CU3) introduced a major change for the SELECT @@VERSION query. Seems to be a pretty small change but 3rd party vendors like Veeam rely for some of their functionality on the output of the statement above and with this change, the application aware image processing of SQL databases is not possible anymore. Currently the whole impact is unknown but it seems that at least the transaction log handling is affected.

So if you rely on this feature and don't want to wait for Veeam v8 Update 3 or v9, skip the updates mentioned above or at least move them to a time after the Veeam product updates are available.

 

Veeam B&R v9.5 and Oracle

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Recently I had some fun with backing up Oracle 12 databases under Windows. Following the online help from Veeam we created a special backup user and assigned it to the local Windows admin group and the ORA_DBA group. We then added the user to the Veeam credentials and tested the connection between the Veeam backup server and the oracle host. Keep in mind that testing the connection/credentials from within the backup job properties only tries SMB (RPC) and VIX (VMwareTools) connectivity and credentials. The test won't include any Oracle specific tests. As far as I know there is no possibility to test Oracle connections from within the VBR GUI.

After testing the connection we started the backup for the first time. The job threw a warning about having incorrect credentials for the Oracle databases and thus application-aware image processing was not possible. The error thrown was:

"Unable to perform application-aware processing of Oracle database (SID: XXXX) : Oracle error has occurred. ORA-01017: invalid username/password; logon denied --tr:Failed to create oracle session. --tr:Failed to create oracle session holder. SID: XXXX."

Backing up Oracle VMs without a proper AAIP implementation is not a good idea so we had to find the cause of this problem.

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Veeam real world scenario

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I've done several Veeam projects until now but I was never faced with the requirements the last project had.

The given situation was a backup environment where Veeam was used in combination with HP DataProtector. Not unusual as I configured those combinations myself during the last years to get the best both products can offer. But here, the customer asked to remove DP completely as the maintenance was running out and a renewal would be quite expensive. DP was used to backup physical systems and databases, most of them SQL systems but also some Oracle systems already virtualized under vSphere.

DP was also used to copy backup-to-disk data from itself as well as the Veeam repository data to tape to get some kind of long term backups. As the legal requirements forces the customer to keep backups for a long period of time (up to 5 years), tape was the only solution to keep up with the high amount of data.

I thought about the problem and came to the point where I was unable to completely remove DP from the scene but in my opinion this isn't neccessary at all. Veeam won't be able to backup all kind of systems the customer has but if we get as close as possible to 100% virtualization, it would reduce the importance of DP extremely. This way DP can be used for all applications and systems Veeam won't offer a perfect solution for and the number of those systems will probably quite low. So perhaps we can't remove DP completely but we can reduce it's footprint and thus it's costs to an absolute minimum.

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Veeam v9 and vSphere 6 - no VSS extension upload using VIX

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A few days ago I was at a customer that uses Veeam to backup his vSphere environment. Nothing special in the configuration. We run this setup for a few years now and it was bulletproof.

Recently we upgraded to Veeam v9 and vSphere 6 to be on the latest major versions both vendors offer. Since then we have a strange problem that was overseen for a while.

The customers security requirements deny access for any system from the internal network to the DMZ, especially for the backup server. To have fully consistent backups of VMs running in the DMZ we use Veeam VAAIP agents uploaded to the VMs via VIX because RPC (admin share access via CIFS) is not allowed. This worked perfectly even with Veeam v9 and vSphere 6. Perfectly until the customer upgraded the VMware Tools on his DMZ VMs. The weeks before the problem arose the VMs ran on vSphere 6 but with VMware Tools from 5.5. The moment he upgraded to VMware Tools 10.x the VIX upload didn't work anymore. The problem only hits a few VMs that can not leverage RPC as alternative upload method.

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VeeamONE: failed to start VeeamRSS service

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In one of my current projects I was faced to do an infrastructure assessment to get a clear overview of the load on a VMware virtualized infrastructure. Of course, one of the best tools to achieve this is VeeamONE. I already wrote about VeeamONE and what it can do for you but this is not the topic of todays post.

Back to the project, I decided to install a VeeamONE server on top of the virtualized infrastructure. Installation went fine until quite before the setup ends and where it tries to start the services. The VeeamONE services consist of two sub services. The monitoring service and the reporting services. The first service started without any problems but the second service (VeeamRSS) won't start.

VeeamONE timeout2

You can skip the startup of this service during setup to complete the installation but sooner or later you will need the reporting engine to see what the monitoring service really collected.

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Veeam Off-host Proxy, DataCore VSS and MS Hyper-V - lessons learned

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Veeam is a perfect backup tool when it comes to making backups efficient and fast. DataCore is one of my favorite storage solutions and Hyper-V.... well, I still prefer VMware vSphere way over Hyper-V. They might have catched up with VMware in most features and probably even superceeded them in special functions but when it comes to a very, very important area they still are years behind: ease of use. Not the hypervisor itself or the management tools like SCVMM or even failover cluster manager. A long-year windows admin probably can handle this kind of construct, although I think VMware has smarter solutions but this is my personal opinion.

The problem begins when it comes to efficient backup and 3rd party integration. Hyper-V currently completely relies on VSS to make consistent snapshots of VMs. In the guest OS this approach is okay but using VSS on the Hyper-V host as well putting VSS on top of VSS is not really a good thing. MS has acknowledged this problem and will probably find another way to replace VSS at least at the hypervisor level. VMware does this for a very long time with their snapshots and that's what makes offloading backup processes to other systems that easy. Even with a Windows based backupserver it's much easier to offload the VMware backups to an external system (that isn't aware of a filesystem called VMFS) than it is for any Microsoft based hypervisor environment.

But back to the main point of this article. We have several customers running Hyper-V on FC or iSCSI based DataCore storage and want to use Veeam as a backup product. This setup isn't quite hard to install but when it comes to make the backup process as efficient as it can be, you will stumble across some problems sooner or later.

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Veeam and vVols

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With Backup&Replication 8 Update 2 Veeam added support for backing up vVol-based VMs. There is nothing special to do to backup those VMs but simply create backup jobs and include them as you would do with any VMFS datastore based VM. The only important thing to remember is that vVol based VMs can currently only be backed up in NBD or hot-add mode. The reason for this limitation is because vVols are a VMware-related special construct that needs a special presentation schema from the storage system as well as special drivers for the HBA to support it. You can see the requirements for using vVols with a 3PAR system in this article.

One of the mentioned requirements is to set the host property within the 3PAR system to use the 11-VMware persona. With this persona there will be a meta device presented, the so called Protocol Endpoint meta device. This is the entry point for the vSphere host to create vVol 1:1 mappings between VM objects and storage LUNs. This PE device will only be presented to hosts with the VMware persona. As your physical Veeam backup server is a Windows system, you have to choose the Windows persona for that server and thus the PE meta device can't be presented to the host. Furthermore the special FC drivers you need to detect the PE device are not available for Windows.

So to cut a long story short: currently backups of vVols in SAN mode is NOT SUPPORTED.

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