Back-up for virtual environments (TSMVE) is still underestimated by IBM!

When you are using IBM equipment there is a big chance that you will use IBM related software to manage the environment. In a large  environment you can use IBM Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) for Virtual Environments to make back-ups of your virtual machines. IBM says that:

Tivoli® Storage Manager software provides a wide range of storage management capabilities from a single point of control, helping companies ride the information tidal wave.

Early this year they’ve added a new product to the Tivoli Storage Manager, IBM storage management software called IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Virtual Environments (TSMVE). This is their product for making back-ups and to recover virtual machines.

You would think that a big company like IBM jumped on the train of virtualisation when it was leaving the train station but in my opinion that’s not what they have done!

A customer had the wish to use one back-up and recovery product for their whole environment with just one product. They already used TSM for there physical environment and have TSM agents in all there virtual machines. They also had vRange in place for the virtual environment. So we did a head to head between vRange and TSM VE.

When reading the TSM guide a test back-up all was as expected but the smart things that TSM has for file level restore AD, Exchange, SQL e.g. are not in the TSMVE product. This is where other products like vRange and VEEAM are way ahead of TSMVE.

When you make a back-up with a product like Veeam Back-up and replication you will make one back-up of the entire machine and you are able to make a full recovery of this machine and do a file or object level restore from that same back-up. Within TSMVE this is not possible (Yet)! For File level restore or Object level restore on Exchange e.g. you will have to have a agent inside the virtual machine. This agent makes a separate back-up. The advantage is that users are able to restore there own files on the fileserver. The disadvantage is that you will have the files twice in you back-up environment and this is so old school!

You would think that IBM would know what the problems are that customers are dealing with when making a back-up and doing a restore. No is the answer! Why? Because it is not possible to have two virtual center servers connected to TSMVE. Why would you now imagine you own two data centers with VMware vSphere cluster on both sides and you would like to make a backup in data center A and restore this in data center B this is not possible.

This is a big disadvantage of TSMVE. You are able to mount another virtual center server to the TSMVE server (first un-mount the other server) and you are able to make a restore. Despite of this we have run in to situations where a back-up for data center A could not be restored to data center B. We did not run in to these problems with vRange for the same situation.

IBM promise you that this product is the solution for you problem (according to one of their key point)

Address business continuity by helping to shorten backup and recovery times and helping to maximize application availability with advanced data recovery management technologies

But in my opinion they have a long way to go to accomplice this! And then I did not even mentioned the distance between TSMVE and products like vRange and Veeam Back-up.

Don’t get me wrong, you will be able to make back-ups and do restores with TSMVE but if you want more or are spoiled (like me) with products like vRange and Veeam backup and replication you will get disappointed. Oke it is version 1 of the product so we should give it time.

the attentive reader sometimes has read “we”  in the story above.This is because I had the pleasure to work with Tommy Hueber  owner of TSM blog Tommy is an expert in TSM! And he tested the scenarios we made up for the virtual environment! So go to Tommy’s blog for more in-depth information about these problems!

The situation above in technical detail can be found on his blog

TSM4VE – lacks support for multiple vCenters?

TSM4VE – backup and restore a VM between different vCenters

The lack of support for two virtual centers at the same time has been submitted as a request for enhancement if you missing this functionality to go to this article where he explains why and you are able to vote for this enhancement