In the period 2008-2009 I did quite a lot of work on windows backup for Windows 2008 (R2) involving both physical and virtual (VMware Server & Hyper-V) servers. Apart from backing up certain servers we used it as a free Physical to Virtual (P2V) solution. We also did some Virtual to Virtual (V2V) migrations from VMware Server guests to Hyper-V. All this was in smaller business units or in SME’s where using the functionality inside Windows and free tools was important. Also some servers need nothing beyond what windows backup can deliver.
Part I: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/using-windows-2008-r2-backups-to-go-virtual-2/
Part II: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/using-windows-2008-r2-backups-to-go-virtual-ii/
Part III: http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/using-windows-2008-r2-backups-to-go-virtual-part-iii/
The benefit of such work is that one gets to learn a lot about the quirks and hiccups of a product. One also becomes aware of its capabilities. Windows Backup can do more than most people think. For that reason I’m quite happy (more than a lot of people) with the product, especially in Windows 2008 R2.
Just like for ntbackup.exe before, I scripted an entire backup solution around wbadmin.exe with logging, archiving, mail alerts etc. Once you have such an adaptable script you can nicely make due with Windows Backups in various environments. The next step is to write the script in PowerShell. That hasn’t been done yet because the script also needed to run on Windows Core which until R2 had no support for .NET and thus PowerShell.
Al lot has happened in the last quarter of 2009. On October 8th 2009 Sysinternals released disk2vhd tool. The current version now also has CLI support. See http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/ee656415.aspx for more information. Recently some commercial vendors have also released free tools you can use for this. VizionCore made there vConverter available for free (http://www.vizioncore.com/free/vConverter/index.php). These tools greatly simplify the P2V or V2V scenarios. Still the “hands on approach” is a good way to learn about technology so I will publish my experiences in a series about windows backup, virtualization (P2V and V2V) and such.
As stated above I know people who dismiss Windows Backup as a valid solution. This is not always justified. But if you haven’t really figured out the tool, how would one know? Sure I use Backup Exec, CommVault and the like for larger environments. Sometimes I work in places with dozens to a hundred terabytes of data and multiple SAN’s. But that doesn’t mean one needs to dismiss all other approaches. Use what is needed where it is needed. I have saved several severs and data using the native backup tools in windows over my career. As recently as 10 days ago I did a bare metal recovery of a W2K8R2 that was messed up by user error. Just know what, where, how and when to use it. Isn’t that the same for any product or solution?
In this series we’ll describe a rather challenging disk configuration on the physical machine we need to virtualize and describe the desired end state of the virtual machine. We’ll discuss setting up the virtual machine to recover the backup. After that we’ll discuss the restore process. Finally we’ll turn our attention to sanitizing the disk layout & configuration. I hope you’ll find it both interesting and useful.