Replica seeding to vCloud Director

One of the many use cases for Veeam Backup & Replication is disaster recovery, as the name of the product suggests it can certainly replicate virtual machines from a production environment to a secondary- or disaster recovery environment. While it is a very straight forward process running through a wizard selecting source and target environments and the start replicating the VM cross the network, you can even have your virtual machines replicated to a Veeam Cloud & Service Provider, VCSP, if you don’t have a disaster recovery site of your own. The VCSP can have a hypervisor environment built for either Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware vSphere or VMware vCloud Director. VMware vCloud Director is VMware’s multi-tenant solution to host Infrastructure as a Service and purpose built specifically for Service Providers.

In this post I’m describing the process of replicating VMs to a VCSP using a feature of Veeam Backup & Replication called Cloud Connect, I’m not going through how to setup Cloud Connect. If you need more information about the ins and outs of Cloud Connect please visit Luca Dell’Oca’s webpage about Cloud Connect.

In the hosted environment at the VCSP you can power on virtual machines if needed to keep your business going if there’s a catastrophic event at your own site for instance a lengthy power outage, load shedding, you can even create a fail-over plan dictating which virtual machines should be powered on and in which order they should start, making sure everything starts in the correct order.

Replicating over the network may not be optimal in all scenarios, at least not the first initial full replication cycle. Let’s say you have a few very large virtual machines that you want to protect by sending them to a disaster recovery site hosted by your Veeam Cloud Service Provider but it’s too big to actually be transferred over the network within the available backup window, what do you do?

In Veeam Backup & Replication you can seed an initial copy of the virtual machine to your service provider using some sort of transportable solution. USB drives, Tapes or solutions of that nature – using “sneaker net”. The basic concept is to get a copy of the virtual machine to the service provider so they can import the VM to their environment and when you start replicating over the network you just send the changes made to the VM that has occurred since you made the copy of the VM. No need for a full transfer of the VM cross the network!

So the 3 basic steps that needs to be taken:

  • Backup VM to a transportable storage device and send it to VCSP
  • The VCSP imports the VM to the correct Org vDC in vCloud Director
  • Set up a replication job at the customer site using the imported VM at the VSCP site as mapping VM

If the service provider has a multi-tenant virtualization layer, meaning built on VMware vCloud Director, the process is simple but has to been broken down into a few distinct steps. If you as a service provider are using VMware vCloud Director 9.7, these are the steps you take if the customer has Veem Backup & Replication installed that can be used:

Step 1 – Customer environment
Backup source VM (normal backup job or VeeamZip) to a portable storage solution. Either backup to C:\Backup and move the backupfile manually to the USB device or select “VeeamZIP…” and specify the target USB devices directly.

Step 2 – Customer environment

Step 3 – Customer environment

Step 4 – Customer environment
When the backup is completed it should be visible in the “Backups”-section in “Disk (VeeamZIP)”

Step 5 – Customer environment
Transfer the backupfile using a transportable storage solution (a USB drive can be used)

Step 6 – VCSP environment
Connect USB drive and import backup file to Veeam Backup & Replication running at the VCSP data center. Click “Import Backup” in the top section.

Step 7 – VCSP environment
Select the backupfile on the USB device and click “Open” (you may need to change the file type selector to “Backup files (*.vbk)” to see the backupfile.

Step 8 – VCSP environment
Now Veeam Backup & Replication will import the backup

Step 9 – VCSP environment
Right click the VM from the imported backup and select “Restore entire VM…”

Step 10 – VCSP environment

Step 11 – VCSP environment
Select “Restore to a new location, or with different settings”

Step 12 – VCSP environment
Click “Host…”

Step 13 – VCSP environment
Select a host or a cluster that is under vCloud Director management where the customer has a virtual datacenter (shows up as a resource source pool in the next few steps)

Step 14 – VCSP environment
Select the VM and click “Pool…”

Step 15 – VCSP environment
Select resource pool (Org vDC of the customer)

Step 16 – VCSP environment

Step 17 – VCSP environment

Step 18 – VCSP environment
Map network adapter to desired network in the Org vDC

Step 19 – VCSP environment

Step 20 – VCSP environment

Step 21 – VCSP environment

Step 22 – VCSP environment
Log on to vCloud Director using the flex UI (the HTML5 UI lacks the “import from vSphere” option.

If you as a service provider are using VMware vCloud Director 10 with the new HTML5 UI for providers, please note that “import from vSphere” is not available in the H5 UI. What’s even more annoying is that the flex UI has also been disable by default in vCD 10 so to be able to import the VM into the Org vDC of the customer you first need to enable the flex UI of vCD:

Enable the vCloud Director Web Console

Step 23 – VCSP environment
Import VM in vCD from vSphere

Step 24 – VCSP environment
Select “Move VM” and not “Copy VM” in Import wizard

Step 25 – VCSP environment

Step 26 – VCSP environment

Step 27 – Customer environment
Set up a new replication job at customer side

Step 28 – Customer environment
Select “Replica seeding (for low bandwidth DR sites)”

Step 29 – Customer environment
Select the source VM from the customer production hypervisor (the same used in step 1)

Step 30 – Customer environment
In the “Destination”-tab, for the “Host or cluster:”-selection. Choose “Cloud host…”

Step 31 – Customer environment
Select the Org vDC to use (same as in step 15)

Step 32 – Customer environment
Select vApp and Storage policy to be used

Step 33 – Customer environment
Select desired restore points to keep

Step 34 – Customer environment
Select desired replication mode

Step 35 – Customer environment
In the “Seeding”-tab. In the “Replica mapping” section. Select “Map replicas to exsiting VMs”, click on the VM and select edit.

Step 36 – Customer environment
Select the seeded VM from step 17

Step 37 – Customer environment

Step 38 – Customer environment
Set a desired replication schedule

Step 39 – Customer environment
If desired: Click “Run the job when I click Finish”
Click “Finish”

Step 40 – Customer environment
Verify that replication successfully finish

Step 41 – Customer environment
The replication job only transfers changed blocks since the backup/import was made

How to setup Veeam replication with VMware vCloud Director

Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 update 4 has now finally been released (to the VCSP community first and the general public on the 22:nd of January). There are loads of really interesting updates and new features.

Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5 update 4

To name a few of the enhancement/new features:

  • Capacity tier: Support for object based storage, gives you access to BLOB storage from Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3 and S3 compatible as well as IBM Cloud Object Storage. This is a new addition to Scale-Out backup repository users. You have your local “performance tier” as per usual but you can offload data based on age or space to object based storage.
  • Staged restore (GDPR compliance for instance, the right to be forgotten  or other use cases where you’d need to run a script on the VM before restoring it)
  • Secure restore where you can do a virus scan on the VM before restoring
  • Direct restore to Amazon EC2 – restoring to Azure has been available for a while but now you can also choose to restore your on-premises infrastructure VMs to Amazon EC2 – combined with the functionality of the backup vendor Veeam acquired a year ago called N2WS for backing up EC2 instances we now have a whole other level of portability of our data: backup everything, restore where it makes the most sense.
  • Self-service backup and restore portal using Enterprise manager
  • Enhancements to various Veeam explorers
  • Plugins for SAP HANA and Oracle RMAN
  • Platform support: vSphere 6.7 update 1, Windows Server 2019 and vCloud Director 9.5

But going back to the fact that update 4 now is available for VCSPs (or Veeam Cloud & Service Provider), there have been some updates for VMware environments as well (VMware calls their service provider program “VCPP”). Included in the VCPP program is a great product called vCloud Director that has been around for ages but is only available for service providers to use nowadays. VMware vCloud Director is an abstraction layer on top of vCenter so up until now there has been no support for vCloud Director for Veeam Cloud Connect usage when replicating VMs from a customer to the service provider environment. The solution previously was to replicate VMs to the service provider vCenter using Cloud Connect and then manually import VMs to the correct organization from vCloud Director. With update 4 that manual step has now been removed, and the process has in fact been improved since the customer can – using cloud connect and a single port mind you! (no VPN required) – replicate virtual machines from the onsite vSphere environment directly to their own Organization and Org vDC. The customer can also set up failover plans and run those if needed all using the same vCloud Director credentials they already received from the service provider.

It’s really easy to setup, below is a video where I show you how to configure the service provider bits such as adding vCloud Director, setting up tenants but also how the customer would configure their environment i.e. how to connect to a service provider using Cloud Connect and setting up replication jobs from a local environment and replicating VMs to the service provider vCloud Director and the customers org vDC within that environment.

(The video is in swedish but just turn off the sound if you don’t understand)

VMware vCloud Director not showing webpage

I was installing VMware vCloud Director 9.1 for Service Providers the other day and ran in to a problem that is “by design” if you will but if you are new to vCloud Director it still might be a show stopper for you.

In my case I was installing vCloud Director on a CentOS 7 VM.  The problem itself manifests itself when the installation is done and you try to access the webpage but all you get is an empty webpage like this:

First of all before installing vCloud Director make sure you have all the required linux packages installed on the VM:


Since my environment is a demo/test environment I’m using self signed certificates but in a production environment you should use real signed certificates.

But going back to the problem, everything installed correctly during the install and I had no problem connecting to the database server (again since my environment is for demo, I’m using Microsoft SQL Server Express 2016 – not supported in a production environment).

I had no problem connecting to the vcd server (to both http and console interface) and database using either IP address or FQDN. But still a connection  problem to the webpage, smells a bit like a firewall issue?

First a look into the logs using the command

tail -f /opt/vmware/vcloud-director/logs/vmware-vcd-watchdog.log

A warning “Server status returned HTTP/1.1 503”. Verifying the active firewall rules using the command

sudo firewall-cmd –zone=public –list-services

Only the ssh and dhcpv6-client services are enabled. It seems we’re missing a few services so enabling them using:

sudo firewall-cmd –zone=public –add-service=http

sudo firewall-cmd –zone=public –add-service=https

And verifying the new firewall rules:

Looks like it just might work now, probably good thing to restart the services just to be safe:

service vmware-vcd stop

service vmware-vcd start

And after a successful restart, reopening the browser will get you the good old web page once again:

Now that looks promising, clicking “Continue to this website (not recommended) brings us to this screen below:

Now it’s time to continue configuring vCloud Director.