How to: Back up your vCenter Server Appliance

In my opinion, one of the best features within the 6.5 vCenter Server Appliance is the ability to perform backups from the appliance itself (natively). No agents, snapshots or scripts required. It really is quite simple, and I’m glad VMware added this additional feature. How many times have you heard someone explain the importance of backups?

Backups, are very important for just about everything within the sphere of Information Technology. This goes beyond the obvious servers and applications. Examples include:  Routers and Switches.

This leads me to our VCSA backup. vCenter has continued to evolve in today’s SDDC. Each release provides additional features that become dependent on one another. With these additional dependencies comes additional complexity. This in and of itself provides reason enough to ensure you have proper backups! For instance, the vDS within vCenter is a perfect example of this. vDS is dependent on vCenter. Sure, if vCenter goes down your networking within your ESXi hosts will continue to operate normally; however, you will have to have vCenter at some point to update your vDS, etc. Furthermore, loosing your VCSA without the ability to restore would be quite painful in the best case and downright disastrous for most organizations. Loosing inventory, performance data, vDSs, Storage policies, etc is not an option.  vCenter is no longer just a management engine, it now a critical application, which means it needs to be up, available, and protected at all times.  I’m not even scratching the surface of other dependencies, such as backups, Replication (SRM/ZERTO), and Monitoring. Almost all full image backup products utilize VMware’s storage APIs to perform their backups. Without a vCenter connection, backup applications won’t be able to utilize VMware’s storage APIs for backup activities.

So with all of this said, we see the importance of vCenter backups.  So, how do we go about doing this?

First, let’s head over to the lab environment and log in. Type in your VCSA address followed by port 5480.

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Next, the VCSA Backup utility is located under the VCSA Management interface. Select Backup to launch the backup utility.

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Once you proceed with the backup process, you are presented with an option regarding which protocol to use.  (FTP, SFTP, HTTP, HTTPS or SCP)

Select your appropriate protocol, enter the correct information/authentication, and click next to continue (You also have the ability to encrypt the backup).

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Next, select the specific items you wish to include in your backup. Add a description for the backup if desired.

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Next, click next to continue. Once validation has finished, the final confirmation page will appear.

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Finally, select finish to complete.

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The backup wizard finishes and the backup process begins.

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You can now see that the backup has started.

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The status bar continues to show progress as the backup progresses.

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Once completed, you will have a backup of your VCSA. **Also, ensure you have a backup of your External PSC if you have one!**