CF Webtools has maintained VMWare ESXi guest OS instances, managed by vCenter, for about 7 years. They are a mix of Linux and Windows Server OSs and are maintained at a secure and redundant co-location data center. While an expensive up-front investment, it has paid for itself over those years, and we have a plan to continue that solution for about another 5 years. A recent upgrade to the next major version proved that virtual machines take a fraction of time for maintenance compared to bare metal instances. Granted, there’s some spin-up time when things work for so long, and you must remember, research, and troubleshoot procedures. Managed cloud takes almost all that time out of the equation, making it my favorite. Though I do miss hands-on hardware here and there.
Some of our on-prem VMs are critical, and some are not. The critical ones have always been backed up with different solutions, depending upon what they are and what the recovery needs look like. However, almost all have come with challenges. So I wanted to look for a VM snapshot-based cloud backup solution that I could trust and would be budget-friendly.
My first direction was to research Veeam. Their solution is very well known. However, it was a struggle to get the attention of Veeam and CDW as a small business without an existing account. I was able to lean on one of our hardware vendors, xByte, who hooked us up with one of their Veeam partners. But it was determined that it was fairly costly with a per-instance license model compared to our existing solutions. So I continued my search.
I then found AWS Backup has an on-prem VMWare solution. AWS Backup is relatively new to the backup game, but its implementations are continually growing. We currently use that service for all our AWS EC2 backups. That service was a “God send” after numerous awful implementations of custom Lambda/CloudWatch scripts and an EBS Automation method. Finally, a solution for what should have been around since the start of EC2.
As of November 2021, AWS Backup offers backup for on-prem VMWare vCenter servers. You must install their Storage Gateway virtual appliance as the “middleman” agent. I was hoping for an “agentless” solution; however, we only pay $0.05/GB-Mo warm storage and $0.01/GB-Mo Cold Storage. That’s a considerable saving, considering we do not have to pay for a license per instance, and there are no incoming bandwidth fees! We will have to pay bandwidth for on-prem restores, but considering that is very rarely done, and bandwidth is relatively cheap, it’s a non-issue. We’d have to pay for storage anyway, so there’s no change.
Another significant advantage is we get a single backup solution for both on-prem and AWS Cloud. It’s one less piece of software we must be familiar with, document, troubleshoot, and keep updated. Outside of an office domain controller, we also anticipate a complete cutover to AWS in 5 years.Continue reading