Using Veeam with vSphere Tags and individual credentials

This week I reworked the backup of a customer. The customer is using Veeam Backup & Replication to back up their VMware vSphere infrastructure. For whatever reason (the customer couldn’t give me the exact reasons), a single backup job was created for each VM.

Single VM per Veeam backup job

Apart from the poor deduplication rate, these over 100 backup jobs were anything but easy to manage and monitor. We looked at different ways to group the backups and after a short time on the whiteboard we came to a first solution: VMware vSphere Tags.
These tags exist since vSphere 5.1 and are the successors of the Custom Attributes.
Within Veeam Backup & Replication, they can be used as selection criteria for the VMs to be backed up in a backup job.

First we had to create the appropriate category (Backup) and tags within vSphere. Then we were able to use the newly created tags as selection criteria within the backup job.

Using vSphere Tags as selection criteria in a Veeam Backup & Replication backup job

The customer operates some hosted VMs for external customers. The VMs to be backed up are in different domains with different credentials. For this reason, we faced the challenge of having to use different credentials for different VMs within a single job. This is generally no problem for Veeam Backup & Replication. But when working with container objects like tags (but also clusters, folders, datastores, etc.), the functionality is a bit tricky to find. If we look at the settings for Credentials under Guest Processing, we first see only the container object for which we can assign certain credentials.

After the job has been created, only the container object is available for configuration

But if we click the Add… button and switch to VMs and Tags again, we have the possibility to expand our selected tag and see all VMs to which our tag is currently assigned.

Selection of VMs for which individual access data are to be assigned

If we now select all VMs for which we would like to assign individual credentials and press Add, we will be able to store the correct credentials in the next step.

Assignment of individual credentials to individual VMs

Wrap-Up

Even if it is not immediately recognizable at first glance, the assignment of individual credentials works not only with the dedicated selection of individual VMs, but also with the use of container objects such as tags. This enables a highly automated implementation of backup jobs even in complex environments with different credentials. New VMs only need to be given the appropriate tag and the backup administrator must receive the appropriate credentials if more than just backing up the entire VM is required.

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