Comparison of vSphere Transport Modes


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Each time I talk to customers at installation dates or health-checks, I spend some time talking about vSphere transport modes. These are: Direct Storage Access, Storage Integration (I take this as a separate mode), Virtual Appliance and Network mode. This is a topic with a lot of facets still not widely known. Here I will try to compare these transport modes on the basis of some characteristics.

 

Direct Storage Access

  • Security
    • Honestly rather bad. Since production volumes are presented to a Veeam proxy host, a local admin/root can easily delete all volumes within seconds.
    • Much better if the storage system is able to present volumes in read-only mode.
  • Network
    • As the name suggests, backup traffic is kept in storage network.
  • Configuration Effort
    • It is more complex to configure than other modes. This is also because you need to configure different layers like storage switches and arrays. You may have to configure the array with each new volumes for backup too.
    • It could be more tricky to provide Direct Storage Restore.
  • Scaling
  • Performance
    • This mode is often the fastest in terms of bandwidth. Also for backup or restore of a single VMDK. Veeam does not limit the speed, so it is delimited by the array the network and the repository.
    • The time it need to start the backup stream is much longer than in other modes. This is because creating the hardware snapshot and presenting it takes some time.
  • Possible Pitfalls

 

Storage Integration

  • Security
    • Good, compared to Direct Storage Access. This is because no volume has to be presented to a Veeam proxy host. Just storage snapshots will be exported at runtime of the backup job.
    • Keep in mind, credentials for administrator user of the array is stored in VBR database. This information is rather simple to export from database with necessary permissions. One reason more to keep your server safe like Fort Know.
  • Network
    • Like Direct Storage Access.
  • Configuration Effort
    • Easier than Direct Storage Access, because storage volumes does not need to be exported. But backup proxy needs an access path to the array. So storage network switches has to be configured.
  • Scaling
    • Like Direct Storage Access.
  • Performance
    • Like Direct Storage Access.
  • Possible Pitfalls
    • By default, Veeam uses storage integration if the array was added. If no proxy has access to the volumes, backup will fail. So enable failback to normal backup (without integration) in advanced settings.
    • Without presentation of volumes in read-write mode, another transport mode will be used for restore. This is because, Storage Integration works only for backup, not for restore. For restore, Direct Storage Restore will be used.

 

Virtual Appliance (HotAdd Mode)

  • Security
  • Network
    • Network selection is flexible here. Traffic is going from virtual proxy to repository server.
    • Make sure selected network is able to provide the performance you need.
  • Configuration Effort
    • To add a new virtual proxy - more or less - just a new Windows/Linux VM needs to be installed. In VBR console it is easy to add a new proxy server.
    • These VMs needs to be maintained. This administrative overhead should not be underestimated!
  • Scaling
    • To scale, just increase the number of virtual proxies.
    • A single proxy reaches rather soon its network bandwidth.
  • Performance
    • Performance with a single proxy is most often delimited by proxies network bandwidth.
    • Similar performance for backup and restore.
  • Possible Pitfalls
    • In larger and/or stretched environments, automatic selection of proxies could lead to unwanted traffic flows. Use manual selection instead.
    • Always test backup and restore performance of a single VMDK
    • Avoid firewalls in between.

 

Network (NBD mode)

 


2 comments

Userlevel 7
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This is a very interesting comparison of all the modes and some nice points to go with them.  I am going to note these for sure. :smiley:

Userlevel 7
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Very detailled comparization of all transport modes. Super for reference. 😎👍🏼

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