NAKIVO Blog

How to Build Your Own VM Backup Appliance

With the ongoing improvements in technology, there are more and more things we have to deal within the datacenter: more servers to maintain, more VMs to manage, more applications and databases to run, more of … everything. As an example, think how many VMs you had just 5 years ago and how many you have now – yep, the number of workloads per IT administrator has been increasing during the last few years, and will continue to do so going forward. It is no wonder that this is forcing us to demand more software capabilities, more features, more ROI, more workloads per square foot and kilowatt of electricity used.

Datacenter consolidation and optimization is the nonstop mantra you can hear in any datacenter. It drives VM data protection and is the reason why VM backup appliances are becoming so popular lately. For one, you have a single box to manage – instead of being scattered throughout the environment. With an appliance, all VM backup and replication components are confined to a single system that is fast to deploy and easy to manage. And you also get an all-in-one backup software, backup storage, and data deduplication, and hardware in a single box. This results in a smaller footprint, less power and cooling, less maintenance, time, and money.

However, these benefits come with some very high price tags, reaching as high as $75,000 per appliance (ouch). So why not build your own NAKIVO VM backup appliance and enjoy all the benefits at a lower cost? Here are some guidelines:

CPU and RAM

Look for a processor with 64-bit architecture and at least two CPU cores. As for the memory, you need 4 GB RAM + 250 MB for each job that you plan to run concurrently.

Storage

The amount of storage that you need depends on the size of your VMs, data change rate, data type, and the number of recovery points that you want to keep. As a rule of the thumb, the amount of storage for VM backups should be at least the same or greater than the size of your source VMs – while deduplication and compression will reduce the data size, recovery points that you save will occupy the remaining space.

Since hard drives are not as reliable as we’d like them to be, setting up a RAID for your VM backup appliance is vital. If you can afford it, go for RAID 10 (you lose 50% of space, but your repository can survive the failure of up to 50% drives), otherwise, go for RAID 6 (which survives through failure of up to 2 drives).

The drive speed is also important. Generally, try to go with the fastest drives you can afford – storage performance is most often the bottleneck for VM backups.

Networking

To get the most of your VM backup appliance, equip it with a fiber channel card. This would require you to install fiber channel cards in all VM datastores, but it will pay off in terms of performance. Otherwise, get at least a couple of Gigabit network cards.

Setting Up Your VM Backup Appliance

When you have the hardware, virtualize it. The hypervisor overhead is minimal to nonexistent, yet you get a few benefits: for example, it’s easy to migrate your VM backup appliance to another server. Also, NAKIVO Backup & Replication can back up (and replicate) itself, so you can have the software protect itself.

To simplify the deployment, you can download a virtual appliance with NAKIVO Backup & Replication installed – and deploy it in a few minutes. That’s it – your own VM backup appliance is ready to go!