Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Why I wouldn’t recommend Microsoft Data Protection Manager as a backup solution

February 22, 2012

When taking into account different backup solutions which are in the market, MS DPM 2010 was rather attractive for us. It’s a solution from leading software vendor and it’s cheap. However, DPM has a number of limitations which forced us to abandon it and rebuild our backup procedures from ground up. Here I’d like to describe major points as impartial as I can.

The first thing about DPM is that it uses VSS snapshots as one and only backup method. The major consequence is that you are very limited in flexibility and cannot do incremental, differential or full backups, implement GFS backup strategy or Progressive Paradigm. The only option you have is to exclude weekends or any other particular days from backups. That means ineffective storage utilization and inability to have longer data retention as you could have with flexible backup policy as GFS for instance, not to mention additional spendings on storage.

Another problem of VSS is that it supports only 64 snapshots. Basically, that means if you exclude weekends from your backup policy, you will be able to have backups for 89 day period. It’s clearly not enough if, for example, you work in a financial institution where you have strict policies of long data retention. DPM assumes that you will use tapes for prolonged data retention. If you already have tapes then you are good to go, if not then once again it’s additional expenditures.

Interestingly enough in DPM you cannot have different retention policies for data which resides on the same volume. Say I want to keep database backups for 3 months and transaction logs for the last week. If database backups and transaction logs reside on the same volume then you will have to create the second volume and separate them.

Limitation which I personally find very inconvenient is space reservation. Each time you create a Protection Group you reserve space for it. Say 500GB. And you cannot change it. In case one folder from ten, which you backup from the server, moves to another place and 250GB become free, the only option you have is to destroy Protection Group, loose all backups and recreate it. DPM helps you in situation when you don’t know how your data will grow and you can specify smaller storage size initially and it will automatically grow as needed. However, it can extend only 32 times. If you hit that limit, then you are in the same situation as before.

Another major issue arise when you change protected server name. If server name is changed the only option you have is destroying protection group, loosing all backups and recreating it.

The next limitation I also find inflexible is target storage. In DPM you can only use blocked devices as target storage to keep your backups. So it’s either DAS, FC or iSCSI storage. NAS is not supported.

If you work in SMB then you would probably have issues with installation and support of legacy systems. DPM works only on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 platforms (Windows Server 2003 is not supported). DPM doesn’t support Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) of Windows Server 2003.

And lastly, DPM keeps all data on a raw volume. Raw volumes are more efficient in terms of disk I/O performance. But when it’s helpful for DBMS it doesn’t seem to make any difference for backup software. The downside of it is higher risk of loosing all data in case of volume damage or DPM bug. It’s arguable, so I will leave it as my personal opinion.

In conclusion, it’s rather disappointing to see how software with 7 years history (DPM 2006 was released in 2005) has more limitations than any backup software solution I can think of. Even if you don’t have enough money for Symantec Backup Exec, ARCServe Backup, HP Data Protector or any other software, I would recommend to make more effort and search for some other solution. Otherwise you can fall into the same trap as we did.

SCVMM doesn’t add Hyper-V host

November 1, 2011

When adding Hyper-V host to Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager I ran into error from Refresh host job:

Error (2912)
An internal error has occurred trying to contact an agent on the host.corp.contoso.com server.
(The remote procedure call failed (0x800706BE))

Recommended Action
Ensure the agent is installed and running. Ensure the WS-Management service is installed and running, then restart the agent

I was able to see host under Hosts panel but couldn’t see VMs. Firstly I thought that running SCVMM along with Hyper-V on the same server even for testing purposes is not a supported scenario. But it turns out it’s a bug. Solution is to install SP1 for Windows Server 2008 R2 in my case.

vSphere Installation Error 1603

October 18, 2011

When installing vSphere client from ESXi server you can encounter an error:

The Microsoft .NET Framework  3.0 SP1 installer return code ‘1603’.

That’s what VMware site tells about that:

vSphere Client installation might fail with Error 1603 if you do not have an active Internet connection:


You can install the vSphere Client in two ways: from the vCenter Server media or by clicking a link on the ESX, ESXi, or vCenter Server Welcome screen. The installer on the vCenter Server media (.iso file or .zip file) is self-contained, including a full .NET installer in addition to the vSphere Client installer. The installer called through the Welcome screen includes a vSphere Client installer that makes a call to the Web to get .NET installer components.

If you do not have an Internet connection, the second vSphere Client installation method will fail with Error 1603 unless you already have .NET 3.0 SP1 installed on your system.

Workaround: Establish an Internet connection before attempting the download, install the vSphere Client from the vCenter Server media, or install .NET 3.0 SP1 before clicking the link on the Welcome screen.

In my case I had restricting rule on proxy server which didn’t allow me to access Microsoft site for automatic .NET download. But loosening restrictions didn’t solve the issue. I installed Framework .NET manually version 3.5 SP1.