Simplifying operations for VMware workloads using AWS Backup and VMware Cloud on AWS
Customers use VMware to power their business critical applications on premises. As they adopt cloud, they leverage VMware Cloud on AWS as a vehicle to migrate without refactoring their applications. Customers will still need to protect their application data, provide disaster recovery from events, and migrate data if needed.
For a large-scale migration with limited planned downtime requirements, customers can use VMware HCX for network extension and migration. For disaster recovery with strict Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) requirements, VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery and VMware Site Recovery are also viable options. However, for smaller migration or more flexible disaster recovery requirements, there is a simpler approach using AWS Backup.
In this post, I explain how AWS Backup and VMware Cloud on AWS can provide a simple solution for backup, migration, and disaster recovery for customers running VMware workloads on premises. Customers can migrate on-premises VMware workloads to AWS cloud, and scale their data protection solution cost effectively and with minimal additional operational complexity.
Figure 1 details how the combination of AWS Backup and VMware Cloud on AWS helps provide a simple solution for migration, backup, and disaster recovery for VMware workloads.
You can back up on-premises VMware workloads to Cloud with AWS Backup, and restore the backups to VMware Cloud on AWS in an AWS Region (Main) as a migration.
You can continue protecting your VMware workloads running in VMware Cloud on AWS with AWS Backup by setting the frequency of backup based on the RPO requirement in the backup plan.
In case of a regional disaster, you can copy the backups to a different AWS Region leveraging the cross-Region copy capability of AWS Backup. If a regional disaster occurs in an AWS Region (Main), you can restore the backups to VMware Cloud on AWS in an AWS Region (DR) as a part of your disaster recovery. You can return your VMware workloads to an AWS Region (Main) with the same process utilizing AWS Backup afterward.
Figure 1: Solutions overview of simplified backup, migration, and disaster recovery using AWS Backup with VMware Cloud on AWS
Backup and restore
AWS Backup captures backups of virtual machines (VMs) using VMware Snapshot with the assistance of VMware Tools. VMware Tools is used to quiesce the file system in a Windows VM, prior to taking a snapshot. Your snapshots are application-consistent if your windows applications are compatible with VMware Tools. If the quiescence capability isn’t available, then AWS Backup captures crash-consistent backups. AWS Backup also creates crash-consistent snapshots of Linux-based VMs.
AWS Backup connects to VMware workloads using the AWS Backup gateway, which you deploy in your VMware environment. The AWS Backup gateway discovers VMs through the VMware vCenter Server and takes snapshots, using VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection (VADP).
In a customer environment, the AWS Backup gateway connects to the AWS Backup public service endpoint over the Internet and the traffic traversing the public service endpoint is encrypted. AWS Backup vaults securely store the backup data in AWS.
Figure 2: Backup and restore, on premises and VMware Cloud on AWS
When you back up on-premises VMware workloads to cloud, they are stored in AWS Backup vaults in an AWS Region (Main), as detailed in Figure 2. You can restore the backups to VMware Cloud on AWS in the same region using the AWS Backup Gateway.
With a simple backup and restore operation of AWS Backup, you can migrate your VMware workloads from on-premises to VMware Cloud on AWS. During migration period, you must consider some factors like downtime, scalability of a restore operation, and the network connectivity between the on-premises environment and the cloud. After the migration, you can continue using AWS Backup as the data protection solution in your VMware Cloud on AWS environment.
Backing up or migrating your VMware workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS can help you in the event of a local disaster or ransomware. If a local disaster or ransomware event occurs in your main site, you can restore the VMs from backups to a new VMware Cloud on AWS environment provisioned in a different Availability Zone (AZ) within the same Region. The new VMware Cloud on AWS environment could be a pilot light cluster with minimum nodes, or an on-demand cluster only to be provisioned during a disaster event.
If a regional disaster is a concern, you can copy the backups to a DR site leveraging cross-Region copy feature of AWS Backup. This solution doesn’t require any additional software or solutions. Therefore, you use AWS Backup as a simple and cost-effective disaster recovery solution.
For both scenarios, you can set the frequency of backup based on the RPO requirement in the backup plan. You can choose a backup frequency of every hour, 12 hours, daily, weekly, or monthly. Cross-Region copy can be automatically triggered once a backup is completed in a source site. The RTO varies based on the number of VMs and their sizes.
Figure 3. Disaster recovery with cross-Region copy
Additional design considerations
There are two pricing considerations: backup storage and restore pricing. Implement lifecycle rules to help you maximize the benefit of lower cost storage. AWS Backup provides a lifecycle feature that lets you automatically transition your recovery points from a warm storage tier to lower-cost cold storage for archival use cases.
In this post, I showed how to use AWS Backup to protect your VMs on VMware Cloud on AWS, how to migrate on-premises VMs from cloud backups into cloud, and how to design a disaster recovery solution with cross-Region copies. The key takeaway is that you can simplify the migration and data protection of your VMware workloads with AWS Backup and VMware Cloud on AWS. Finally, you can use AWS Backup to centralize your data protection operations across supported AWS services alongside VMware.
If you need to integrate VMware Cloud on AWS with an AWS service, then explore the following resources and contact us: