4 4 3:VMware Backup

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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.

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 documentation.


This article describes VMware backup with SEP sesam version 4.4.3. Note that this is not the latest version of VMware documentation and, as such, does not provide information on features introduced in 4.4.3 Tigon. For details on the latest documentation, check VMware documentation.

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.

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 CTRL).
  6. Define your client as a vCenter Server.
  7. 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.)

  8. Click the tab vCenter access and enter vCenter credentials with administrator rights.
  9. Select a data mover.
  10. 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.

  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 Operating system drop-down list, select the ESX-Server.
  5. Choose PROXY access mode for the SEP sesam server-client communication (the default setting is CTRL).

  6. Click the tab ESX server access and enter ESX server credentials with administrator rights.
  7. 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.

  8. Click OK to add the new client.

Creating a backup task

As of SEP sesam version 4.4.3, you can also use the Si3 deduplication data store for your virtual machine backup.

VMware does not support consistent backup of independent disks or disks with physical raw device mapping. The data of such disks is silently skipped from backup, hence the backup save set contains no data for the independent disk; a warning about the missing data is issued as of Grolar version. If a restore of a VM with independent disk is performed to the original VM by using the option overwrite, the independent disk is re-created and all existing data on the restore target is lost!
To back up VMs that contain independent independent disks and RDMs, you have to install the 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 backup type and task name are set automatically.

  3. Optionally, specify one or more VMDKs which you do not want to back up in the Exclude list. Enter the complete path or the symbolic names manually. The symbolic names reference the order of VMDKs of virtual machine definition. The 1st virtual disk is vmdk0, the 2nd is vmdk1, and so on.
    If you want to add a comment, enter it in the Comment field.
  4. Use the following options carefully.

    • 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 (no VMDK data) check box. In this case, only Open Virtualization Format (OVF) file and VM configuration are backed up.
    • As of SEP sesam version 4.4.3, an option VM single file and instant recovery is no longer required to perform a single file restore. Different types of restore and recovery can be performed from almost any type of VMware backup. To learn what applies to single file (SF) restore and VMware instant recovery (IR), which backup type supports it and how it relates to the disk size usage, check VMware single file restore & and instant recovery support matrix. For instructions on preparing for VMware single file restore, see VMware Single File Restore.
  5. CBT is enabled by default.
    Optionally, you can specify a transport hierarchy for your VMware backup job by entering the preferred order under the Save options in the backup task Options properties. For example -a trans=hotadd:san:nbd:nbdssl will define the order as HotAdd (preferred transport mode), then SAN, followed by NBD and NBDSSL.
    In the Save options field 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 the quiescing, enter the following in the Save options field: -a qui=1. If you want to specify more commands, for example set the above transport hierarcy and quiescing, simply enter the options one after another, for example: -a trans=hotadd:san:nbd:nbdssl -a qui=1.
  6. 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.


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.

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 types are available:

  • COPY: Backup of an 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. 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.
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.

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-, file- and MSSQL backups.

What is next?

VMware RestoreVMware Single File RestoreVMware Instant Recovery

See also

Changed Block Tracking (CBT)Standard Backup ProcedureVMware Advanced ConfigurationTroubleshooting

External references