My (online proctored) VMCE 2020 experience

Right before my vacation I reached a goal, which was actually already on my list for 2019. I tried and managed to get the Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE) certification in the 2020 edition. This was also my first online proctored exam. So in the following I would like to tell you why it took so long since my Veeam Configuration and Management training in 2019 and what experiences I made with the 2020 exam in the „Remote Edition“.

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Using vSphere Custom Attributes with Veeam Backup & Replication

Most of my customers now use tag-based backup with Veeam Backup & Replication to protect their business-critical applications and services. This ensures that they no longer need to perform any configuration within the backup software to protect their workloads. Only the individual adjustments of the Guest Credentials for Application-Aware Processing have to be done in the Veeam Console. The added value you have by doing this I have already covered in another blog post.
In the ever accelerating IT world and the changes that come along with it, it is extremely important for my customers to be able to make fast and reliable statements about the data backup status of certain systems. Since we use vSphere tags to perform nearly all of our backup administration from within vCenter, it would be consistent to have the appropriate status information available at this location as well. This is where the Notification Settings within the Advanced Backup Settings come into play. How you can configure simple status updates in vCenter without installing additional plug-ins or tools, and what you should consider when doing so, I‘ ll show you below.

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Backup fails with „Cannot find Linux guest credentials“ in Veeam Backup & Replication v10

Yesterday I had a scheduled update of his Veeam Backup & Replication installation with one of my customers. We planned to go from version 9.5 Update 4b (9.5.4.2866) to version 10 GA (10.0.0.4461).

As usual, I created an encrypted configuration backup before the update for safety reasons. How this works and why you should encrypt the configuration backup you can read here and here. I prefer to be a little more cautious at this point, before I have the trouble in hindsight. However, I did not need the configuration backup. The update went smoothly and without problems.

Since I carried out the update during the day, it was not possible, in agreement with the customer, to perform a complete backup run directly after the update. Therefore, I did a short functional test using the Quick Backup capabilities of Veeam Backup & Replication. There were no problems here either.

Today the customer called and reported about failed backup jobs. So I looked into it:

Version 10 GA: Unable to connect to guest OS for guest processing. Cannot find Linux guest credentials
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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.