Turn DPM and Windows Storage Server into an appliance

Combine windows storage server and add windows system center data protection manager and you can get a backup and dr appliance you can build – or a service you can sell.

In the server and storage market, adding value can often be hard to do without incurring a significant cost or increase on your Bill of Materials that either forces you to raise prices or, in worst case, barely break even on the box. One solution is to follow the laptop market and add more software onto the box. But how can you avoid providing unused and unwanted software? The answer is to build a solution out of what you are offering. Vendors such as Iomega and HP have started shipping backup software on their storage boxes as a freebie but if a customer already has a backup strategy there is no gain. Of much more interest to customers is to take their storage box and turn it into a solution that works across their entire business and then add other services on top. This can not only make your offering more interesting than your competitors but also allows you to add extra services. In an earlier issue we looked at how you could build hosted backup solutions for your customers. Here we show you how to take Windows Storage Server and add Windows System Center Data Protection Manager on top to build a high value solution. You can sell them a backup and disaster recovery appliance – and you can offer remote backup solutions over ADSL at night to provide the customer with a multiple storage and backup solution.

Originally introduced in 2003 as an OEM product in order to grab a slice of the storage software market, like Cluster Server before it, Windows Storage Server started life with a limited Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) and the need for an iSCSI driver set. Some of the OEMs charged extra for the iSCSI driver pack and if you bought their hardware second-hand, they made it very expensive to get the iSCSI set from them.

To edit Windows Firewall in Advanced mode you go to Server Manager and open Inbound Rules.
To edit Windows Firewall in Advanced mode you go to Server Manager and open Inbound Rules.

With Storage Server 2008 that changed. It is now possible to buy new or second-hand Storage Server 2008 boxes from a variety of places (HP, Dell, SuperMicro, NetAPP, IOMEGA and other OEMs support Storage Server) complete with the iSCSI driver set. As you might expect from a product with Windows Server in the title, this is a product built on top of Windows Server with extras. Microsoft has already made it clear that it expects to incorporate Storage Server into the main operating system in the next major release of Windows Server. For now, however, you can buy a Storage Server 2008 box and use it to build a solution, or a service.

Storage Server provides a range of features such as iSCSI support making it ideal as a target for virtual servers. You can put the virtual server images on the Storage Server box and boot the servers direct from the storage box. This means that customers no longer need to have hard disks in the actual servers reducing costs in acquisition as well as power and cooling. Storage Server also does single instance storage, a file based de-duplication technology that can reduce the amount of storage required (though you should be careful of over-estimating this type of saving).

The second product here is Windows Data Protection Manager (DPM). This is a separate server product that does disk and tape based backup. The main focus is on disk based backup for products such as Exchange Server and SQL Server; DPM will also backup Hyper-V and SharePoint, making it a complete backup solution for the majority of Microsoft server customers. DPM work by acting as a D2D2T (Disk to Disk to Tape) solution and is part of the System Center family of products. This means that it can be administered through the same single interface as the rest of System Center removing the need for consultancy and additional skills training.

Like Storage Server, DPM uses single instance storage to reduce the amount of data being written to disk. This is done after the data has been copied across as an out-of-band solution, which means that it doesn't impact on the backing up of data or the use of Storage Server as an iSCSI SAN.

By putting DPM on top of Storage Server, you can use some storage to provide an iSCSI SAN for the network and use the rest of the storage as part of a real-time backup solution. So let's look at some of the key things to check and the steps you need to take to make this happen.

Getting started with windows storage server

When you buy a Windows Storage Server device from HP, Dell, SuperMicro, NetAPP, IOMEGA or any other OEM supporting Windows Storage Server, you should get the operating system and the iSCSI target software. This is important as without the iSCSI target software you cannot create an iSCSI SAN, either for data storage or for holding all of your virtual machine images that you will boot servers from. Once you have the iSCSI target software you must ensure that it is properly configured. This is relatively simple but does require that you make changes to the Windows Firewall in Advanced Security.

This can only be done through Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Server Manager. From here you select Configuration > Windows Firewall with Advanced Security. You will need to enable various ports TCP 3260, TCP135 and UDP 138 and create two rules to ensure that the iSCSI software will be able to work through the firewall.

Once you have installed and configured the main iSCSI target software you need to install the Target Components which gives you the ability to be an iSCSI target provider. You also get the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) which allows any computer or server running the iSCSI initiator software to do applications snapshots of data at regular intervals as part of an automated backup to protect data. The third component is the Virtual Disk Service which allows applications to manage their data stored on an iSCSI device.

Creating a storage point as an iSCSI target is a two-stage process. You need to create both the iSCSI target and the virtual disk that will be used to hold the data. Each of these is a wizard-driven process and you can allocate multiple virtual hard disks to each iSCSI target so that it can grow over time. This prevents you allocating too large a storage pool to begin with. Once you have configured the iSCSI targets, client computers can access them by using the iSCSI Initiator software from Control Panel. Single Instance Storage (SIS) is a key element of Storage Server and is not on by default. It can only be used on volumes that are not used to boot Storage Server. Turning on SIS is simple. You go to Administrative Tools > Share and Storage Management and then click on the Volume tab. Select the volume on which you wish to implement SIS, right click and select Properties. On the Advanced tab there are two options; to enable indexing and to enable SIS. Simply select the option to enable SIS, choose Apply and then click OK.

Getting started with data protection manager

Installing Data Protection Manager (DPM) is no different from installing any Microsoft server product. It comes with its own installer and prerequisites. Before you can install DPM, the wizard will check that you have the right components, hardware and system attributes. The first two are no problem on Storage Server but one of the required system attributes is that DPM is installed on a server with SIS enabled.

As already mentioned, you cannot enable SIS on the Storage Server boot drive. As a result the DPM installer fails. However, unlike a lot of installs, the DPM installer tells you what the (case-sensitive) command line script is to force SIS on Storage Server (start /wait ocsetup.exe SIS-Limited /quiet /norestart).

Once SIS is turned on and Storage Server is rebooted, you can then run the DPM installer. DPM requires access to a database for logging and recording key data. You can use an existing instance of SQL Server if you choose or it will install its own instance. In most SME installations, it is easier to use the bundled SQL Server instance and allow the installer to complete as normal.

Protecting data with dpm

Protecting servers is a multi-part process. You start by adding disks or custom volumes into the DPM storage pool. Then you deploy the protection agent onto servers and create protection groups. Finally, if you have a tape library, you can connect it to DPM and configure when data is moved to tape.

When working with Storage Server and DPM on the same server, you need to be careful of who owns what part of the disk pool. Ideally, you should split your storage into two blocks and make each a set of physical disks. The first set is managed by Storage Server as an iSCSI target and the second is handed to DPM for backup. This prevents any conflict over control of the disk pools and gives you a clear understanding of how the storage is working.

Adding disks to the storage pool of DPM is simple. Open the DPM 2007 Administrator Console, click on the Management tab and then select Disks. Go to the Actions pane and select Add. This will show all disks that are available to be added into the storage pool. Select the disk you want to add and then click OK. If this is a large pool of disks where some of the space has been allocated to logical disks and volumes for Storage Server, DPM will show the total size of the storage pool and how much is available to it.

Now you have a storage pool you need to create your protection groups for servers. The first step is to install the protection agent on each server, physical or virtual that you want to protect. This is done through the Management tab on the Administrator Console. Select the Agents tab and then click on Install.

The Protection Agent Installation Wizard will then enumerate your domain and show all machines that can be protected. This is not limited to servers, allowing you to protect individual machines as well. Once the agent has been installed, the machines will need to be rebooted before they can be protected.

Once the machines have been rebooted you can add them into a Protection Group that will enable you to protect them as a block rather than apply protection to each machine individually.

Creating a combined storage and backup solution is real added value to customers who can then grow their storage as their data and backup needs increase. Using that storage environment as a boot option for virtual machines and removing hard disks out of other servers will save on power and cooling and, over time, will help recover the costs of the solution.

Setting up Data Protection Manager

  1. If you attempt to install DPM on a volume which is not SIS enabled, it will fail and give you the command line to force SIS.

  2. To turn on Single Instance Storage you need to open Share and Storage Management and go to the Volume tab.

  3. Check the Enable SIS on this volume box.

  4. By default DPM will install and use a dedicated instance of SQL Server but you can use an existing instance if you want.

  5. If everything is OK, DPM will install any missing Microsoft Services such as IIS and Windows PowerShell. It also installs SQL Server 2005, not SQL Server 2008.


Deploying DPM agents

  1. From the Management Console, select the Agent tab and then click Add on the Action pane.

  2. DPM will show you all the available computers in your domain as registered in Active Directory. Select the computers to protect and then click Add.

  3. DPM needs Domain Admin permission to install the Agent on each computer which it will then restart to complete the installation.


i365 eVault Online Backup and Recovery

One of the key elements of any backup and recovery solution is to ensure that there is a copy of everything elsewhere. While Data Protection Manager allows you to create a stable backup system, it does not move data off site.

Seagate subsidiary i365 has a new service designed to work with Data Protection Manager 2010; EVault already covers non-Microsoft platforms like Novell and VMware and the new EVault for Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager allows you to backup all applications and operating systems for any user and then move that data to i365’s cloud service.

DPM and eVault get a common graphical interface for backing up and recovering of data. Both will have agents that can be deployed on remote computers. Agents can be combined into protection groups to enable machines to be backed up together; particularly important for email, SharePoint and database products where the data is distributed and needs to be kept together.

EVault for DPM will only be sold through the channel in the UK (direct sales are available in the US); it will be available in June as a pre-configured system from Dell but in the future the software will be available for you to configure on your choice of DPM hardware. If you want to extend DPM off site and you don’t have the scale to build your own off-site backup service for customers, EVault and the EVault Cloud-Connected service could help you build up a data protection business that lets you add value to the storage you’re selling customers.

Adding iSCSI targets

  1. Go to Administrative Tools, iSCSI software target which will show you all the iSCSI targets you have already created.

  2. From the Action menu, select Create iSCSI Target and this starts the iSCSITarget Wizard.

  3. Create a name for the iSCSITarget which CANNOT contain any spaces.

  4. Select the computer on which the iSCSITarget will be run.

  5. When you save, the iSCSITarget is created.


Working with Data Protection Manager

  1. Administration of DPM2007 is done from the Administration console. To add storage you go to the Management Tab and select Disks. Next, select Add from the Action pane.

  2. DPM will show you all the available disks on the server it is installed on. Select the disks you want to add to the DPM pool.

  3. If some of the space has already been used for iSCSITargets, DPM will tell you how much space it has available.



All Backed Up
The senior product manager for DPM blogs about DPM and related System Center tools:?

Ctrl P
The Microsoft DPM team blog includes scripts, hardware compatibility details, troubleshooting and other useful topics:

Technical Introduction to System Center Data Protection Manager
This video from TechEd 2008 is the first of three sessions covering DPM 2007; start with the overview and demonstrations then click through for the other sessions:

Simplify File Recovery with Data Protection Manager
Although this article dates backs to 2006 it has useful performance numbers (and it discusses how Microsoft uses DPM in its own architecture):

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Comments (1)
Monica Cardenas
Posted: Jul, 2 2010

Sale Director

Is DPM (Data Protector Manager) included in Windows Storage Server 2008? or is a separated product?



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