Protecting Nutanix AHV with Cohesity

This week I had a look at using my Cohesity cluster to protect a Nutanix Acropolis Hypervisor (AHV) environment. Most of my experience with Nutanix was using vSphere as the hypervisor, in which case Cohesity sees a vSphere environment. This time I deployed the Nutanix Community Edition (CE) which uses AHV and allows a single node deployment. The protection process for AHV works the same as vSphere protection, but the restore processes are not quite as smooth. Below is a walk-through of protection and recovery; you can see the same process in this video. You can also read more about Cohesity protection for Nutanix AHV on the product page and learn more about Cohesity through the Build Day Live event.

Disclosure: This post is part of my work with Cohesity.

Setup Nutanix Source

To register the Nutanix cluster with Cohesity, you need some information from the Nutanix cluster, specifically the cluster virtual IP address. While you are looking at the Nutanix cluster, make sure that you have an IP address set for the iSCSI Data Services IP.

Now login to your Cohesity cluster and register a new hypervisor source, you will need to change from the default of vSphere to Acropolis.

Enter the cluster virtual IP address and some credentials for the cluster, then click Register. It only took a few seconds on my system, and the AHV cluster showed up as a source with a VM count and data size.

Protect VMs

Once the AHV cluster is available as a source, you create a Protection Job in the same way as for any other source, name the Protection Job and choose the source.

Next, select the items to be protected. I chose the cluster and turned on AutoProtect so that new VMs would also be protected.

Now select a protection policy and Storage Domain. You can customize the usual Cohesity protection settings. Once the Protection Job is in place the first run is a full copy, my seven small VMs took 35 minutes. Subsequent runs are incremental; the next protection run took five minutes.

Recover VM

The point of doing backups is to be able to restore, so I started with a complete VM recovery. As usual, use search to find the VM that you want to recover.

Once you have chosen which VMs to recover, decide how to recover. Since I was recovering from a deleted VM, I restored back into place with the original VM identity and network and allowed the VM to be started.

The actual restore on AHV is different from vSphere; the VM does not start up until it is transferred back to the AHV cluster. This will affect your RTO compared to the vSphere instant restore where the VM is operational before it is moved to the original location. Once the whole VM was copied back to the AHV cluster, it booted and was back in service. It was about seven minutes from starting the restore until the VM was booted.

Recover Files

Next up is restoring individual files into the AHV VMs. As before, search to find the files you need back.

When I chose the option to restore back into the original location, the button to recover was never enabled. It turns out that restore back into place is not available with AHV, another difference from vSphere.

To get the restore back to the original location, I needed the Cohesity console inside the protected VM where I needed to restore. I opened the Cohesity cluster page from inside the VM, searched for the same file and downloaded the file.

Saving the file back into its original location was simple. The only challenge is that the initial download by the web browser is into the system drive which is typically not huge so might not have spare capacity for a large restore.

Cohesity Protection for AHV

We can protect data on a Nutanix AHV deployment using Cohesity. The same data protection policies can be used for AHV as for other sources. I like Cohesity global search for simplifying restores. Both VM and file level restore work, even if they are less clean processes I am used to with Cohesity and vSphere. The integration between Cohesity and AHV is not as deep and functional as the vSphere integration; this may well be down to the APIs that AHV exposes compared to vSphere.

© 2019, Alastair. All rights reserved.

About Alastair

I am a professional geek, working in IT Infrastructure. Mostly I help to communicate and educate around the use of current technology and the direction of future technologies.
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