Tips for creating a VDI backup plan

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1 E-Guide Tips for creating a VDI backup plan Most virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) products claim to simplify the backup process, but IT administrators are finding that backing up and protecting data stored on virtualized desktops is not easy. This e-guide from SearchVirtualDesktop.com explains how to develop a VDI backup plan to protect your virtual desktops against disaster. Learn why it is essential to focus on both the virtual desktops and the infrastructure when developing a backup strategy. And discover how to back up PCs in a virtual desktop infrastructure using agent-based and local backups architecture. Sponsored By:

2 E-Guide Table of Contents Creating a simple VDI backup plan How to back up PCs in a virtual desktop infrastructure Resources from Dell and VMware Sponsored By: Page 2 of 11

3 Creating a simple VDI backup plan By Brien M. Posey, Contributor, SearchVirtualDesktop.com An organization recently contacted me regarding its virtual desktop infrastructure deployment because the consulting firm it had hired to design and implement a virtual desktop environment had failed to develop a VDI backup strategy. The organization had no way to protect its virtual desktops against disaster. Every commercial virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) product works differently, and backup requirements vary considerably, so there isn t one easy answer on what needs to be backed up. That said, you should concentrate on two areas when it comes to VDI backup -- the virtual desktops and the infrastructure. The virtual desktops You might assume that you need to back up individual virtual desktops, but you don t have to. That s one reason why companies adopt VDI in the first place -- simpler management. Most organizations start out by setting up a physical PC with the operating system and applications they need to run on virtual desktops. Once the PC has been completely configured, it is Sysprepped, and then a golden image is created from the PC s hard drive. This gold image is used to create a virtual hard disk file, which serves as the basis for individual virtual desktops. Once an IT shop has a copy of the virtual hard drive file that was used to create the virtual desktops, it doesn't need to back up each virtual desktop separately. As long as this file is stored in a safe place, a traditional backup of virtual desktops isn t necessary. Of course, this raises a big question. As we all know, desktop PCs (physical or virtual) do not retain a static configuration. Things like patch management, new applications and user profile data can cause the desktop to evolve over time. So how do you deal with this evolution if you are not backing up the virtual desktops? Sponsored By: Page 3 of 11

4 As with physical desktops, the patch management process does not warrant backing up virtual desktops. If a problem occurs, the virtual desktops are recreated from the gold image, and any necessary patches are automatically applied by the patch management server. New application deployment doesn t warrant backing up individual virtual desktops, either, because new apps are almost never installed directly to the desktops. Instead, administrators create a new gold image containing the new application and any authorized patches that have been released since the time that the last gold image was created, and the new gold image is used to regenerate the virtual desktops. So what about user profile data? Generally in a VDI deployment, the user s profile is redirected to a network share, which prevents any user profile data from being stored locally. In some instances, though, user customization can become a problem. For example, Microsoft s Windows Server 2008 R2 VDI implementation allows for the creation of personal virtual desktops. Normally, when a user establishes a VDI session, he is connected to one of the virtual desktops within a desktop pool. At the end of the user s session, any changes that he has made to the desktop are rolled back so that the virtual desktop is left in a pristine state. However, with personalized virtual desktops, each user is mapped to a specific virtual desktop. When the user s session is finished, Windows skips the rollback process so that the next time the user logs on, he will be connected to the same virtual desktop that s in the same state in which he left it. Anytime personalization technology is used, it s a good idea to back up virtual desktops. That way, you won t lose any user specific settings in the event of a crash. The virtual desktop infrastructure Because every vendor takes a different approach to VDI, it is difficult to say exactly what you need to back up. I recommend treating your VDI deployment as mission-critical and designing your backups so that you'll be able to restore service quickly in the event of a failure. Sponsored By: Page 4 of 11

5 This doesn t necessarily mean that you have to back up every infrastructure server in your entire organization. After all, VDI deployments are almost always constructed with fault tolerance in mind. You may be able to design your backups to achieve a representative sampling rather than back up every single server. For example, if you have an entire pool of session host servers, then it probably isn t necessary to back up every session host because they all do the same thing. Instead, make sure that you back up at least one session host as well as any configuration settings or databases used by the pool. Since there is no one size fits all solution to backing up your VDI deployment, you must create a backup plan that is based on your own individual virtual desktop architecture and on the requirements set by your VDI software vendor. Sponsored By: Page 5 of 11

6 Transform the way you store data. Simply scale virtual desktop deployments with virtualized iscsi SANs. Accelerate performance, reduce storage footprint and mitigate project risk. Learn how Dell EqualLogic PS Series SANs can help benefit your VDI project at dellenterprise.com/getmorevirtual/virtualdesktops. Efficient Enterprises do more with Dell EqualLogic.

7 How to back up PCs in a virtual desktop infrastructure By Frank Ohlhorst, Contributor, SearchVirtualDesktop.com Most virtual desktop infrastructure vendors claim that their VDI products simplify the backup process, but IT administrators are finding that backing up and protecting data stored on virtualized desktops is not easy. The challenge lies in how VDI is deployed and used. Ideally, administrators would just need to back up a stateless VDI desktop image and then back up the roaming profiles that contain user settings and data. But that methodology works only for recovering a virtual desktop to an originally deployed state; usually, any changes made to the virtual desktop or profile will be lost. Agent-based backups, local backups and synchronization are ways to deal with this situation. The backup conundrum only becomes more complex if personalized virtual desktops are used in the enterprise and if virtual desktops can be run in an unconnected state. Users can create local data files, install applications and modify user settings as well as change operating system preferences. If that information is not backed up, users could lose data if their virtual desktops become corrupt or are lost. IT administrators must ask, "Should virtual desktops be regularly backed up?" and, "What technology should be used to back up those virtual desktops?" The answers depend on whether corporate IT policy requires desktop PCs to be backed up. If a desktop PC becomes corrupt or experiences a failure, then most IT departments will only restore that PC to the original deployed image. But if the organization has a policy of protecting endpoints (PCs, notebooks, etc.) -- both connected and disconnected -- all of the complexities of backing up users' desktops are introduced into the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) equation. There are multiple ways to protect VDI desktops, but all require deployment planning, policy modifications and integration. Sponsored By: Page 7 of 11

8 Agent-based backups For some IT departments, the traditional method of deploying a desktop agent for backup may work, but a VDI deployment adds several complications. For example, for a backup agent to launch and actually back up a system, the system must be turned on and connected to the network. Also, if the IT department is backing up all PCs -- virtual and physical -- those backups will need large amounts of storage space. That storage requirement can triple once VDI is introduced: IT departments will need space for the active PC's virtual image, the original (deployment-state) virtual PC image and the backed-up virtual PC image. Another issue is that agent-based backup can dramatically increase network bandwidth utilization, significantly affecting operational performance. However, with some compromises, agent-based backups can work reasonably well in a VDI environment. The trick is to limit what is backed up. For example, most administrators can still offer a decent level of protection by backing up certain local directories and files stored on either the physical or virtual hard drive, such as the "my documents" folder. In addition, the agent can back up the desktop personality, preserving bookmarks, settings and other user modifications. This approach significantly reduces the size of the backup, saving bandwidth and space needed. There are downsides to the selective backup approach including some files may be missed during a backup, and a restore becomes a little more complicated. The best scenario for agent-based backups is when the IT department has already invested in agent-based backup software and is allowing the virtual desktop to be run from the local PC and not a server. Local backups Another method for protecting a personalized VDI desktop is to shift the backup burden to the end user, which usually means installing backup software on the local PC and providing removable storage with enough capacity to house several backups. Sponsored By: Page 8 of 11

9 However, a local backup requires the end user to participate in the backup process, so the IT department must rely on the end user to perform IT-related duties. Also, if an end user is careless with removable storage, proprietary information can fall into the wrong hands. In addition, local backups are the most expensive to deploy because each user needs additional storage to safeguard his backups. But for organizations with only a few personalized VDI desktops, local backup technology may be an ideal stopgap for protecting user information. Synchronization While it may not be considered a true backup method, synchronization can protect personalized VDI desktops. Synchronization can be deployed in two ways: 1. By using synchronization client software to keep synchronized copies of user directories and setting files on the network. In this way, whenever a user creates or changes a file or setting on his virtual desktop, that change is replicated to a remote location. Furthermore, synchronization events can be cached, allowing disconnected users running local virtual PCs to synchronize their data files as soon as they reconnect to the network. For the most part, synchronization can be automated, requiring no end-user intervention. 2. With a remote image stored on the network. The initial synchronization will consume significant bandwidth and take some time, but it will get easier after that because only subsequent changes need to be incorporated, making synchronization a speedy alternative to traditional backup technology. There are dozens -- if not even hundreds -- of products related to backup or synchronization. Selecting which product to use requires defining how the VDI will be deployed and managed. For sites that run all virtual desktops on a server-class system in the data center, backup does become much easier. Usually, the backup system will take care of the virtual hard drives stored on physical storage in the data center. But if an organization switches to a VDI deployment that uses a hybrid setup, with some virtual PCs Sponsored By: Page 9 of 11

10 running in the data center and others running remotely, or with some personalized virtual PCs running remotely, backup can become a serious problem. Sponsored By: Page 10 of 11

11 Resources from Dell and VMware VMware and Cloud Computing: An Evolutionary approach to an IT Revolution How do I get started with cloud computing? Teradata Deploys a Private Cloud Based on vsphere while streamlining their cloud administration with VMware vcenter Lab manager About Dell and VMware Dell and VMware have a long-standing alliance and a history of working together to test and certify VMware solutions running on Dell servers. Dell and VMware have invested thousands of hours in joint engineering, architectural design and solution validation to deliver integrated solutions with exceptional performance, reliability and simplified management. Through proven processes and solutions, Dell reduces the risk of transformation and accelerates virtualization adoption so organizations can quickly realize return on investment (ROI) without sacrificing productivity. Dell is committed to driving complexity from enterprise computing, including virtual infrastructure. Together, Dell and VMware deliver efficient virtual infrastructure solutions that are fast to deploy and easy to manage. Sponsored By: Page 11 of 11

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