Configuring the CommVault Simpana Azure Client

We will start with a oneliner: “the cloud will be everything in the nearby future!“.

Enterprises are discovering the cloud and will slowly evolve to a hybrid environment. Many of them already took the first step with Office 365, OneDrive for Business and so on. As they are moving towards services and shared infrastructure, the need for data protection will remain untouched. However according to an EMC study (Reaching Solid Ground by Chris Ratcliffe) executed in December 2014, we notice only 13% of the organizations are confident to protect data stored in various locations. In one of my previous blog posts I mentioned we will see backup silo’s returning again. I strongly believe besides hyperconvergence (Software-Defined DataCenter), we will notice software and/or management console convergence for protecting virtual machines and data in the cloud, as on-premise.

Motivated by the above reasons, I looked into the CommVault Simpana Azure client which is available as of version 10 Service Pack 9 and is currently available as “Early Release“. My findings can be found at the end of this blogpost.

The purpose of this blog post is to document the configuration process, test the Azure integration, see how it works and list the positive- and negative things. During the time of writing, not a lot of information was available and we had to figure some things out by ourselves. But that’s why we do it!

I deployed everything within Azure. Hereby an overview of my test environment.

Virtual Machine Purpose Location
RRE-AD01.rendersr.local Microsoft Active Directory Microsoft Azure (Type A0)
RRE-COMMSERVE01.rendersr.local CommVault Simpana CommServ Microsoft Azure (Type A6)
RRE-VSA01.rendersr.local Azure Virtual Server Agent proxy Microsoft Azure (Type A1)

1/ First of all, we need to deploy the CommVault Simpana Virtual Server Agent on the the proxy server used to access Microsoft Azure. Don’t forget to deploy the latest Service Pack (currently Service Pack 10) on the CommServ before deploying the agent.
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2/ Once installed, we need to create a self-signed certificate which we will upload in Microsoft Azure in a later phase. CommVault provides an application called “Azure Certificate Tool”  which creates a self-signed certificate, adds it to the local server and exports it as a file. It makes the task a little bit easier!

Let’s start with installing an IIS server on the VSA proxy to create the certificate. Another IIS server or Certificate Authority can be used if you want. I created the certificate on the VSA as I had it to drop it somewhere…
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Once the “Web Server (IIS) role” has been installed, open the IIS manager and navigate to “Server Certificates“.
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Choose “Open Feature” in the actions pane.
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Now click on “Create Self-Signed Certificate“. Give the certificate a name and store it in the “Personal” certificate store.
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3/ Once installed, we need to export the certificate from the Personal Certificate Store. Let’s start with opening an Microsoft Management Console and add the “Certificates Snap-In” for the “local computer“.
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Now open the properties of the freshly created certificate and click on “Copy to file…” on the “Details” tab. In the wizard, select the “No, do not export the private key” and choose “Der encoded binary X.509 (.CER)“.
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4/ So we successfully created a self-signed certificate on the VSA proxy! Next up.. we have to upload the certificate in our Microsoft Azure environment. I noticed it’s not yet possible to use the preview portal for it, so we’ll complete the task by using the old interface (https://manage.windowsazure.com).

In the menu, navigate to “Microsoft Azure > Settings > Management Certificates“.
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Let’s click on “Upload” and import the certificate we exported in a few steps back. Document the Subscription ID and Thumbprint ID of the certificate as we will need it in a later phase.
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5/ At this moment, we completed the prerequisites to connect to the Microsoft Azure environment from within the CommVault Simpana environment. Let’s start with creating the Microsoft Azure client. Right-click on “Client Computers” and choose “New Client > Virtualization > Azure“.
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Give the Azure client a human-readable name, I called mine “RRE-AZURE“. Fill in the Subscription ID and Thumbprint ID you collected in the previous step. Last but not least, configure the freshly installed Virtual Server Agent as a proxy.

Congratulations you successfully configured the Azure integration for CommVault Simpana! Let’s play around..

6/ Compared to other clients, we need to manually create a BackupSet. Right-click on the Azure Virtual Server Instance and choose “All Tasks > Create New Backup Set“.

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7/ Now we can navigate to the subclient in the freshly created BackupSet and discover the virtual machines within the Azure environment. Let’s start with discovering the Virtual Machines by navigating “Azure Virtual Server Instance > All Tasks > Refresh Cloud Services“. Please note, this process can take some time to complete (it took about 5 minutes from my end).

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We discovered the virtual machines witin the Virtual Server Instance, let’s add the discovered virtual machines to a subclient. Go to the properties of the subclient and click on “Content > Configure“. In the newly opened window, click on “Discover“. After the virtual machines are discovered, add them to a subclient.
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Impressions and thoughts:

1/ I encountered some troubles when I wanted to create a BackupSet (when I called it “DefaultBackupSet” it gave me some errors as it already existed?) or ran a backup of virtual machines in the cloud.

The integration with Azure itself is pretty simple and easily to be configured. If you want you can start Virtual Machine LifeCycle Management or VMware conversion.

2/ I noticed, we have the ability to discover virtual machines and add them to a subclient. When I ran a manual backup of them, the backup fails with the following message: “No virtual machines were discovered for this Subclient. Please check the Subclient content“. In the vsdiscovery.log file I noticed the following records:

3012 1 05/03 17:54:44 1017 ### ### — Connected to subscription [d6528d95-4f97-4d44-8d7a-************]
3012 1 05/03 17:54:47 1017 ### ### — Discovered 3 host services
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::DiscoverVMs() – — Discovering VMs —
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::ProcessContent_Inventory() – Processing Inventory [All:17] [][]
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::ProcessContent_Inventory() – Found [0] VMs from Inventory [All:17] [][]
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::_ProcessContent_Item() – Discovered [0] VMs from item [] on server [RRE-AZURE]
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 vsAppMgr::getAllNonDefaultSubclientContents() – Reading content for all subclients
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::ProcessSubClientContent() – Processing Subclient [RRE-AD01] Content
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::_ProcessContent_Item() – Discovered [0] VMs from item [\] on server [RRE-AZURE]
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::ProcessContent_List() – Discovered [0] VMs from List
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::VMArchPopulateVMCollect() – [VMArchiving] VM Archiving is only supported for VMware vCenter instances.
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::DiscoverVMs() – — Discovered [0] VMs —
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::DiscoverVMs() – —————————
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::AddVMsAsSimpanaClients() – There is nothing to backup
3012 e54 05/03 17:54:48 1017 VSDisc::Run() – Discovery completed successfully

I consulted documentation, but did not find any reference about the ability of protecting virtual machines in Azure at this moment. I started a forum discussion to get this cleared out.

3/ Documentation mentions the Microsoft Azure client as a prerequisite for VM Lifecycle Management and Virtual Machine conversion. Something I will look into in a later phase!

I noticed the Microsoft Azure Virtual Machine which is preinstalled with CommVault Simpana is without the Operations Manager. The Operations Manager is a prerequisite for VM Conversion or VM Lifecycle Management.

4/ Virtual Machines in Microsoft Azure are not auto-discovered. Auto-Discovery works only on VMware ESX, Microsoft Hyper-V & Citrix Xen. It means the administrator needs to run a manual discovery each time a new virtual machine has been deployed.

I really think this is something we need to follow-up on. I expect some amazing things in the nearby future related to cloud integration and so on!

Ruben

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