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Druva Documentation

VMware virtual machine backup workflow

Phoenix Editions: File:/tick.png Business File:/cross.png Enterprise File:/tick.png Elite

Phoenix performs backup on virtual machines based on the schedule defined in the backup policy, that virtual machine is a part of or an on-demand backup triggered from Phoenix Management Console. This involves interaction of Phoenix components and VMware components.

The following diagram depicts the data flow at the time of backing up virtual machines.

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Virtual machine backup workflow

Step Operation

Step 1

Virtual machine backup request is initiated based on,

  • Schedule defined in the backup policy.
  • Manual backup

Phoenix forwards the backup request to backup proxy pool.

  • Based on the load balancing algorithm, Phoenix automatically identifies the backup proxy that will run the backup request.
  • If the identified backup proxy is busy, the backup request is queued and initiated when the backup proxy becomes free.

Step 2

  • In an environment where virtual machines are deployed on ESXi hosts managed by vCenter server, backup proxy contacts vCenter Server to locate the virtual machine and obtains its configuration.
  • In an environment where virtual machines are deployed on standalone ESXi hosts, backup proxy contacts ESXi host to obtain the virtual machine configuration.

Backup proxy queries the ESXi hypervisor or the vCenter server for the VMDK files, and the VMX files of the virtual machines.  

Step 3

Phoenix determines the type of backup. 

  • If this is the first automatic backup, Phoenix performs a full backup. 
  • For all subsequent backups, Phoenix performs an incremental backup. 

Backup proxy takes a snapshot of the virtual machine and prepares for backup.

Step 4

VDDK connection is established with the virtual machine with SSL transport mode.

Step 5

Backup proxy contacts the virtual machine and establishes a read-only connection to backup virtual machine data.

Step 6

Backup proxy uses the snapshots of the virtual machines to read the VMDK files for the backup. It copies virtual machine data and prepares to send it to Phoenix CloudCache (if configured) or Phoenix Cloud.

Encrypted VMDK backup through the NBD mode is not supported. Encrypted VMDK disks can be backed up either using NBDSSL or HotAdd. Here are the supported transport modes for virtual machine disk backup:

Backup proxy Virtual Machine Transport mode
Encrypted Encrypted HotAdd
Unencrypted Encrypted NBD-SSL
Encrypted Unencrypted HotAdd

Note: The backup proxy creates a snapshot on the local datastore. Ensure that enough storage is available on the datastore for the snapshot. 

Step 7

Backup proxy transfers the snapshot data in a continuous stream to Phoenix Cloud. Before transferring the data to the Phoenix Cloud, backup proxy performs the de-duplication.

After the backup completes, backup proxy deletes the snapshot. 

To know more about virtual machine backup, see Backup and Restore VMware Virtual Machines.