Microsoft SQL Server Recovery Operations with Datrium DVX

Lately I’ve been pretty focused on working with Microsoft SQL Server and how this business critical application, which is run and deployed on over 35% of Datrium DVX customers. Below, in this episode of OpenConverse we’ll take a look at virtualizing SQL Server on Datrium DVX as well as the restore capabilities offered.

Virtualizing Microsoft SQL Server has been a long-time discussion and debate between Virtualization and Database Administrators alike. For many good reasons, SQL Server is likely to have been one of the last applications within the environment to be a good candidate to virtualize. There have been many enhancements within the hypervisor which now make virtualizing SQL Server a viable solution. Performance has been the main concern for DBAs and Application Owners, depending upon the underlying infrastructure applications and the overall end-user experience would suffer. In fact, at Datrium, we have conducted extensive testing and continue to perform additional testing of SQL Server on DVX. Many Datrium customers have been able to instantly see a dramatic impact of their SQL environments once migrated over to DVX and off of their legacy storage devices. Not all environments and organizations have a black-belt ‘certified’ DBA on staff. Even if you do have an expert DBA who performs native SQL backup procedures – Virtualization Administrators are looking to augment this process with zero impact to the running databases. This has become a growing challenge – how can I backup frequently and meet application SLA’s without any impact to the end users that are using the environment? Traditionally, snapshot-based VM backup technologies can adversely affect performance of highly transactional services, like Microsoft SQL Server. These effects limit an administrator’s ability to protect workloads frequently throughout the day. This Datrium Tech Note will focus on the capabilities which Datrium DVX can provide to environments which utilize Datrium’s robust
per-VM or application-based Protection Group policies for VSS consistent Microsoft SQL Server recovery options.

Datrium Application-Based Protection Policies

A core capability within the DVX Platform is the ability for Administrators to define Protection Groups (i.e., backup policies) which defines when the backup and protection of the VMs within the Protection Group occurs. This section is intended to provide you with a quick introduction to the Datrium DVX built-in backup capability and its protection policies. Regardless if you’re running SQL Always On High Availability Groups or standalone SQL Server instances, Datrium DVX is able to perform VSS consistent snapshots which allow for quick recovery of the entire SQL Server or individual databases and tables. The graphic below shows the html5-based DVX UI and its corresponding Protection capability. Within here you may statically assign VMs to a given policy or you may use dynamic name pattern matching – this ensures that as new VMs come online they’re automatically included within the policy.

NOTE: The html5-based DVX UI is directly accessed through the vSphere Web Console!

SQL Server Recovery Options with DVX

The Datrium DVX platform provides backup and restore capabilities which satisfy the requirements of many different use cases including test / development, backup, disaster recovery, cloud archive, ransomware protection, etc., along with application recovery requirements. For the purpose of this blog post I am focusing on recovering a few SQL Server database(s) or individual tables. To achieve this task, within the UI we’ll first clone out the individual VM hard disk(s) which contain the SQL .MDF and .LDF files (image below). A key benefit of Datrium-based snapshots over traditional hypervisor-based snapshots is the fact that they operate at a per-VM level and not at an entire LUN or Volume and they don’t affect the running application’s performance.

The graphic below shows the Protection Group Summary, in this case, SQL VSS along with the membership, schedule and all of the restore points available across my multi-site DVX environment. Once the correct restore point is found we can quickly clone the virtual hard disk which contains SQL Server data and log files.

After the virtual hard disks are cloned we can easily mount those to an existing VM and then quickly recover exactly what’s needed from the SQL Server drives. You may use tools like SQL Server Management Studio or a 3rd party tool like Kroll OnTrack to perform recovery.

To learn more about how Datrium DVX can help protect and ensure availability for your SQL Server environment, download the latest Technical Whitepaper over at Datrium.com.