4 4 3 Tigon:VMware Backup

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Copyright © SEP AG 1999-2024. All rights reserved.

Any form of reproduction of the contents or parts of this manual is allowed only with the express written permission from SEP AG. When compiling and designing user documentation SEP AG uses great diligence and attempts to deliver accurate and correct information. However, SEP AG cannot issue a guarantee for the contents of this manual.

Icon archived docs.png This is not the latest version of SEP sesam documentation and, as such, does not provide information on features introduced in the latest release. For more information on SEP sesam releases, see SEP sesam Release Versions. For the latest documentation, check VMware Backup for the new version.

Information sign.png SEP AG has discontinued support for SEP sesam version 4.4.3 Tigon (V1 and V2). Instructions are still available for these SEP sesam products, however, SEP AG accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors or inaccuracies in the instructions or for the incorrect operation of obsolete SEP sesam software. It is strongly recommended that you update your SEP sesam software to the latest version.


Quick Start 3.png
Quick setup
  1. Linux specific: Install VMware VDDK on SEP sesam data mover (SDM-VV) on Linux.
  2. Install SEP sesam to a data mover.
  3. Select the relevant transport mode.
  4. Configure a vCenter Server as a SEP sesam Client.
  5. Configure a standalone ESX Server as a SEP sesam Client without vCenter Server.
  6. Configure the VM backup.

SEP sesam provides efficient data protection for virtual machines (VMs) running on VMware ESXi servers by using VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection (formerly known as VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection or VADP).

The vSphere Storage APIs - Data Protection is included with all vSphere editions and kits. If a storage network environment (SAN) is configured properly, it enables SEP sesam to perform LAN-free, centralized virtual machine backups without involving backup tasks to be run from inside each virtual machine on the ESX host. Off-host backup off-loads backup processing from the ESX server thus also reducing costs by allowing each ESX host to run more virtual machines. SEP sesam provides simultaneous backup of a large number of virtual machines on SAN connected ESXi hosts.

SEP sesam uses VMware vSphere Storage APIs to create a virtual machine-consistent backup. It requests a snapshot of the VM, and backs up the complete virtual machine or individual virtual machine disk (VMDK) files to SEP sesam Server or SEP sesam Remote Device Server (RDS) directly over SAN to avoid network traffic. For an application-consistent backup, the quiescence snapshot option is used. If the changed block tracking (CBT) is enabled, SEP sesam features fast and efficient backup by backing up only the blocks that have changed since previous incremental or full backup.

It is also possible to set additional options, such as shut down a VM before backup or specify transport hierarchy by using Backup options (previously Save options) filed in the backup task properties.

For the list of supported VMware versions, see support matrix.

By using the integrated Si3 target deduplication for VMware backups, you can benefit from reduced disk capacity and increased overall storage performance.


  • SEP recommends a SEP sesam volume license which is based on the data volume per front-side terabyte and on the utilisation of SEP database agents. Volume license includes unlimited usage of clients, hypervisors, disk storage, tape, Si3 deduplication and replication. For more details on volume licensing and how to calculate front-side capacity, see SEP volume licensing.
  • Because SEP sesam integrates with VMware vSphere Storage APIs – Data Protection, you will need at least a VMware vSphere Essentials license.

Key features

Enhanced VMware vSphere CBT (DIFF/INCR) backup for instant recovery and single file restore
Single item restore (SF) and instant recovery (IR) are based on almost any level of VMware backup, including differential and incremental.
Integration with VMware’s vStorage APIs
SEP sesam provides optimized backup and restore processes of your VMware virtual machines.
VMware CBT support
Copy, full, differential and incremental image-level backups of VMware virtual machines for storage optimization.
Complete protection of VMware resources
vCenter Servers (which automatically discover all the VMs in the vCenter environment) or individual vSphere ESX/ESXi servers can be added as a client to the SEP sesam environment.
Support of all VMware transport modes for backups and restores
SAN, HotAdd, NBD and NBDSSL are supported and their priority can be adjusted (see Selecting a VMware transport mode).
Si3 target deduplication
As of version 4.4.3, VMware backup can use an SI3 deduplication store, thus eliminating redundant data blocks and reducing the size of the backed up data.
Flexible restore
Complete VM image restore, restore VMDK files to alternate directory, single file restore. For details, see VMware Restore.


To ensure error-free operation of SEP sesam and improve performance, make sure that the following conditions are met:

Configuring your VMware system as a SEP sesam Client

Depending on your VMware environment (single server or clustered), some steps in configuring a client will differ. Follow the relevant procedure below.

Configuring a vCenter Server as a SEP sesam Client

To protect your virtual machines, you must configure the VMware Virtual Center server as a SEP sesam Client. SEP sesam supports the following vCenter types:

  • vCenter appliance from VMware
  • vCenter installed on a Windows Server environment

The procedure for configuring vCenter Server may differ slightly depending on your SEP sesam version.

  1. From Main Selection -> Components -> Topology, select your location and click the New Client button. The New Client window opens.
  2. In the New Client window, enter the DNS name of the vCenter server.
  3. From the drop-down list of configured locations, select a location to which you want to add a new client.
  4. Under Operating system drop-down list, select the appropriate operating system.
  5. Choose PROXY access mode for the SEP sesam Server-Client communication (the default setting is SMSSH, previously CTRL).
  6. Define your client as a vCenter server; select the option vCenter from the VM server type drop-down list. (In versions lower than 4.4.2, there was a check box Client is a vCenter Server that needed to be selected.)
  7. VMware vCenter client Beefalo V2.jpg
  8. Click the tab vCenter Access and enter vCenter credentials with highest administrator rights.
  9. Select a Data mover.
  10. Information sign.png Note

    The VMware backup performance is highly dependent on the transport mode. To check the recommendations for the optimal data mover, see Selecting the best VMware transport mode for your environment.

    VMware access Beefalo V2.jpg

  11. Click OK to add the new client.

Configuring a standalone ESX Server as a SEP sesam Client without vCenter Server

In case no vCenter is available, the ESX server itself can be added to SEP sesam.

  1. From Main Selection -> Components -> Topology, select your location and click the New Client button. The New Client window opens.
  2. In the New Client window, enter the DNS name of the ESX server.
  3. From the drop-down list of configured locations, select a location to which you want to add a new client.
  4. Under Platform drop-down list, select the UNIX.
  5. Under Operating system drop-down list, select the ESX-Server.
  6. Make sure that the PROXY access mode is selected. It is set by default when the ESX-Server operating system is selected.
  7. Add ESX server client Beefalo V2.jpg
  8. Click the tab ESX Server Access and enter ESX server credentials with administrator rights.
  9. Then select a Data mover. Note that the optimal data mover depends on storage type and selected transport mode. For details on which data mover is optimal, see Selecting a VMware transport mode.
  10. Add client-set data mover Beefalo V2.jpg
  11. Click OK to add the new client.

Creating a backup task

With SEP sesam, you can use either a default data store Path, the Si3 deduplication data store or HPE StoreOnce for your virtual machine backup.

Information sign.png Note
SEP sesam cannot back up the data on the independent or RDM disks, due to a VMware limitation that does not support including independent/RDM disks in virtual machine snapshots; a warning about the missing data is issued as of Grolar version. If a restore of a VM with external disk is performed to the original VM by using the option Overwrite, the disk is re-created and all existing data on the restore target is lost.

To back up VMs that contain independent disks or RDMs, you should exclude the independent disks/RDMs from the backup task or install a SEP sesam Client in the virtual machine and perform an additional file or application backup to back up this data.

For general information on backup configuration and prerequisites, see Standard Backup Procedure. This section deals only with VMware-specific information.

  1. From Main Selection -> Tasks -> By Clients, select the vCenter client and click New Backup Task. The New Backup Task window opens.
  2. Specify the Source. Browse for the VM that you want to include in the backup and select it. Note that you can only configure one VM per backup task. By selecting the source, the task type and task name are set automatically.
  3. Bck task vCenter source Beefalo V2.jpg
  4. Optionally, in the Exclude list select one or more VMDKs which you do not want to back up by using the big browse button (next to the fields Source and Exclude list) and selecting your source for exclude. In our example we have excluded one VMDK, as shown in the screenshot below.
    VMware static exclude Beefalo V2.jpg
    Using symbolic exclude
    If the number of VMDKs to be excluded for backup exceeds allowed length, you can use the symbolic exclude, as shown in the following example.
    SEP Warning.png Warning
    Note that specifying the exclude list by using the symbolic names is not the recommended procedure and should only be used if you know what you are doing.

    The symbolic names reference the order of VMDKs of virtual machine definition. In our example we have 11 disks as a backup source, as shown in the screenshot below.
    VMware disks Beefalo V2.jpg
    The first virtual disk is usually SCSI0:0, the second is SCSI0:1, and so on. The vmdk0 would exclude SCSI0:0, the vmdk1 would exclude SCSI0:1, etc. Note that if SCSI0:1 does not exist, the second disk would then be SCSI0:2 and the vmdk1 would exclude this second disk (SCSI0:2). However, if you later add a new disk SCSI0:1, then vmdk1 would exclude the newly added disk SCSI0:1 rather than previously specified SCSI0:2, because SCSI0:2 would now be the third disk.
    Vmdk exclude Beefalo V2.jpg

    If you want to add a comment, enter it in the Notes field.
  5. Use the following options carefully.
  6. Backup as image-CBT default Beefalo V2.jpg
    • By default, Backup as image option is enabled and performs a FULL raw backup of VMDK without CBT, even though the CBT is selected. However, CBT is applied for consecutive differential and incremental backups. If Backup as Image option is deselected while the CBT stays enabled, the CBT is fully utilized. For details on how the combination of these options affects the size of your backed up data, check VMware single file restore & instant recovery support matrix.
    • If you want to exclude a dedicated virtual disk (VMDK) from snapshot operations and backup only VM configuration, select the Backup only the VM configuration check box. In this case, only Open Virtualization Format (OVF) file and VM configuration are backed up.
    • By default, Changed Block Tracking option is enabled. In SEP sesam v. ≤ 4.4.3 Grolar, it was possible to disable/enable CBT functionality. This is no longer supported in v. ≥ 4.4.3 Beefalo. For details, see Changed Block Tracking (CBT).
    • Information sign.png Note
      Resetting CBT requires administrator privileges.
  7. Optionally, switch to the Options tab and enter additional options in the Backup options (previously Save options) field:
    • You can specify a transport hierarchy for your VMware backup job by entering the preferred order. For example, -a trans=hotadd:san:nbd:nbdssl will define the order as HotAdd (preferred transport mode), then SAN, followed by NBD and NBDSSL.
    • You can also define whether you want to quiesce the VM file system. Quiescing a file system is a process of bringing the data on disk into a consistent state suitable for backups. VMware Tools work with Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) to quiesce applications before they are backed up. For this, the <quiesce> flag must be set to 1 (or true).
      • To enable quiescing, enter the following in the Backup options field: -a qui=1.
      • To disable quiescing, enter the following in the Backup options field: -a qui=0.
      If you want to specify more commands, for example, set the above transport hierarchy and quiescing, simply enter the options one after another, for example: -a trans=hotadd:san:nbd:nbdssl -a qui=1.
      Alternatively you could merge the -a options together using comma: -a trans=hotadd:san:nbd:nbdssl,qui=1. Note that you have to use a comma without spaces to separate the commands.
    • You can also chose to shut down a VM before the snapshot is created, as described in the section Shutting down VM.
  8. Optionally, click the corresponding tabs in the New Backup Task window to define additional options. Then click OK to create the task.

You can group your backup tasks to task groups. For details, see Adding a Task to the Task Group.

Information sign.png Note

Plan your backup schedules carefully. It is recommended to balance your backup schedules to even out the resource usage: for example, schedule a greater number of VMs on the same host or the same LUN to run consequently rather than concurrently. For details, see Creating a Schedule.

The final step in the backup configuration is creating a new backup event. For general information, see Creating a Backup Event. For VM backup the following backup levels are available:

  • COPY: Back up entire VMDK, including the empty blocks (provisioned size = size of backup and size of VMDK equals). CBT is not required and will not be used.
  • FULL: Uses CBT to back up only used blocks of VMDK files, located on a VMFS volume. In combination with the option Backup as image, a full raw backup of VMDK without CBT is performed, even though the CBT is selected. However, CBT is applied for all subsequent differential and incremental backups.
    Full backup cannot be performed for VMDKs that are stored on NFS volume.
  • INCR and DIFF: Uses CBT to get the list of blocks that have changed since the last run of this backup task and backs up only the changed blocks of data. A full VMDK backup is required before you can create incremental/differential backups.
Information sign.png Note
To protect VMware virtual machines and enable a smooth restore, it is recommended to use a seven-day rotation with differential and incremental backups, where a full backup is run over the weekend every 7th day. This helps you ensure safety of backup data and avoid long chains of incremental/differential backups.

Finally, run the VM backup.

SEP Tip.png Tip
Whenever a new vCenter or ESXi host is added and there are a lot of new VMs present that need to be backed up, you can automate backup of VMs by including VMs to task groups according to the selection filter and automating operation of creating backup tasks for VMs. For details, see Automating Backup of Virtual Machines.

You can view the status of your backup jobs by selecting Last Backup State in the Main Selection window. The backup status overview provides detailed information on the last run of backup jobs, including the task name, start and stop time of the last backup, backup level, data size, throughput, assigned media pool, etc.

As of 4.4.3 Beefalo V2, you can check the details of your backups online by using new Web UI. For details, see SEP sesam Web UI.

Recommendations for backing up a vCenter Server

  • The vCenter backup should run every day via vSphere backup. This backup task must run exclusively at the time when no other vSphere backups are active!
  • If a vCenter server is a physical host, it is highly recommended to schedule daily SEP sesam BSR Pro – Backup Configuration, file and MS SQL backups.

Shutting down VM

For application-consistent backup and consistent state of the complete VM, you can shut down the VM before the snapshot is created and backup is performed. You have to enter the following option when creating a backup task, under the Options tab in the Backup options (previously Save options) field: -a action=stop.backup.start. Once the backup is completed, the VM is started automatically.