Suggestions for best approach: Exchange backup

Last post 10-19-2020, 9:36 AM by Dgarratano. 1 replies.
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  • Suggestions for best approach: Exchange backup
    Posted: 10-15-2020, 11:40 AM

    Hello all,

     I've been teaching myself how to work with Commvault for our environment and finally getting it to the stage where it almost is solving our backup needs.  I have two hurdles to clear before I can make Commvault our primary/exclusive backup solution, Exchange and Oracle.  I'm looking for some clarity/advice for how to configure our Exchange backup.

     

    Currently, my infrastructure consists primarily of two Citrix Xen hypervisors (version 6.2 and 8.0). I am in the process of migrating from Exchange 2013 to Exchange 2019 and have the old server on the older hypervisor (6.2).  I have installed Commvault Cell on a Windows 2019 server on the new hypervisor and a Windows 10 proxy on the older hypervisor, as well as a proxy on a physical Windows 7 machine for archiving to a portable USB drive for off-site storage.

    My question is this: what is the best approach in terms of backing up the Exchange servers? I can simply make VM backups, which works, but I'm assuming that will NOT truncate the logs on the Exchange server, meaning I'll still need to manually do that or perform a Windows VSS backup to accomplish that.  Because Commvault doesn't have quite as robust support for Citrix as other hypervisors, I need to configure it through the Java-based console for some features instead of the web console.

    So a basic question that may seem obvious, but the documentation hasn't made this clear to me: where do I install my media agents and Exchange idagents for a database backup?  Right now I have media agents on the proxy server and cell server, which are working fine.  But for the Exchange backup, I have an Exchange client on the cell server; do I need it on all 4 servers in this process (each media agent on the hypervisor and each Exchange server target)?  

    Ideally, I would like to backup the boot drive/VM and then do a database backup on the mailbox database, which will purge the logs and ideally would let me browse the database for item or mailbox level restores. I currently am using a filter on the VM backup, which appears to work fine for getting the system state and boot VM (without grabbing the very large mailbox database drive).  Another question: does the VM or Mailbox database backups support deduplexing or is that only for file backups?

    Thanks for any suggestions anyone can offer up.

  • Re: Suggestions for best approach: Exchange backup
    Posted: 10-19-2020, 9:36 AM

    Dru, 

    There should be a two-prong approach here: 

     

    1) The Exchange database agent. In both a stand-alone and the DAG client varieties, this will allow the best way to protect Exchange DBs, where: 

    a) Exchange is aware of the backup, b) Exchange can truncate itself after the backup (Important to know that's a native function, not a CV one) and c) with restores, it will bring a DB back online automatically, etc. 

    There's also additional features such as message level recovery, etc. 

    Backing up Exchange databases with the file system agent or the VSA agent, while possible, isn't going to be a "supported" version of a backup/restore as it's the equivalent of copy/pasting a database while it's live. As you seem to understand already, Exchange wouldn't have any idea of what's going on, and truncation would never occur. 

     

    2) A VM level backup, where the volumes housing the databases are excluded. This will provide a snapshot level backup of the VM, where if the machine is lost, it can simply be put back. You would then restore the databases from the database agent. 

     

    As far as your installation questions, the exchange agent goes on the Exchange server(s). 

    The only reason the media agent package would need to be on the actual Exchange servers would be if you're using Intellisnap or application aware, which is most configurations would provide less features. The DAG client is vastly superior in effecency, if you are in an Exchange DAG configuration. Unless both the VMs and the databases are on a hardware array that can provide snapshots, these other options tend to offer less. 

    The VSA proxy leverages the media agent package, that's correct, so it will be needed there as well. 

    All agents discussed here support deduplication as well. 

     

     

    If you're already doing VSA level backups of these machines, you should only need to configure: 

    1) Setup the Exchange database agent on all exchange servers, configurre DAG client if DAG present. Setup schedules, etc. 

    2) Remove the database volumes from the VSA backup, and set the subclients holding the servers to "crash consistent". 

     

    Hope this helps, 

     

    -Daniel

     

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