Continuous Backup for Exchange Server 2013 with DPM 2012 (Part 1)

by [Published on 9 May 2013 / Last Updated on 9 Sept. 2013]

A configuration guide for backing up Exchange Server 2013 with Data Protection Manager (DPM) 2012 Service Pack 1.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

Introduction

With the release of Service Pack 1 for System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager (DPM 2012) there is finally support for protecting Exchange Server 2013.

Exchange Server includes native data protection, a set of features that, when deployed and configured correctly, can eliminate the need to make traditional backups of your data. Although the Exchange built-in native data protection can be enough for some organizations, there are situations where traditional backup still makes sense. And this is where DPM 2012 can help, since it was designed to provide specific protection for Exchange Server and other Microsoft workloads. DPM provides continuous data protection for Exchange Server 2007, 2010 and 2013, through disk-to-disk, disk-to-tape and disk-to-cloud technologies. DPM supports backing up standalone mailbox databases, active and passive databases in a Database Availability Group (DAG) in Exchange 2010 and 2013, as well as continuous replication (LCR, CCR and SCR) in Exchange 2007

DPM can be configured to use disk-based, tape-based, and cloud-based backup systems.

  • Disk-Based Backup: disk-based backup is used for short-term data protection operations and allows rapid backup and restore of protected data.
  • Tape-Based Backup: although protected data is not initially written to tape, DPM allows backed-up data to be copied to tape for the purposes of meeting long-term data retention and archiving requirements.
  • Cloud-Based Backup: DPM can be configured to back up data across the Internet to a disaster recovery facility at a separate data center or to Windows Azure.

Image
Figure 1: DPM Backup Process (DPM 2012 Datasheet)

What’s new in DPM 2012 Service Pack 1:

  • Improved backup performance of Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V over CSV 2.0 deployments

Cluster Shared Volumes (CSVs) provide a distributed file access solution so that multiple nodes in the cluster can simultaneously access the same NTFS file system.

In System Center 2012 Service Pack 1 (SP1) DPM, CSV 2.0 support allows the following benefits:

    • 900% improvement in Express Full backups.
    • Parallel backups.
    • No performance difference between backups from owner and non-owner nodes.
    • Support for SMB shares.
  • Protect Hyper-V over remote SMB share, which allows the following benefits:
    • More efficient Express Full backups.
    • Continued protection even after Live Migration.
    • Support for SMB shares in standalone and scaled-out deployments.
  • DPM now allows you to exclude virtual machine pagefiles from incremental backups to improve usage of storage and improve backup performance.
  • Scale out support for Hyper-V virtual machines.
  • Protect Windows 8 deduplicated volumes. Data deduplication involves finding and removing duplication within data without compromising its fidelity or integrity. DPM allows optimized back of deduplicated volumes, both locally and over the network.
  • Support for Hyper-V Live Migration
    • Uninterrupted protection for migrated virtual machines.
    • Support for inter-cluster, cluster to standalone, and standalone to cluster migrations apart from intra-cluster migration.
    • Support for SMB shares.
  • Integration with Windows Azure Online Backup.
    Important: Windows Azure Online Backup currently is currently on Preview and does not support production environments.
    • With System Center 2012 SP1, DPM can now backup data from the DPM server to an offsite storage managed by the Windows Azure Online Backup Service.
    • Up to 120 DPM recovery points can be retained in Windows Azure Online Backup.
  • Support for protecting SQL Server 2012 databases that use the AlwaysOn feature.
  • You can use a stand-alone instance of SQL Server 2012 to host the DPM database.
  • Support for protecting file server using Resilient File System (ReFS).
  • Support for protecting SharePoint 2013.
  • Support for protecting Exchange Server 2013.

The following table lists the types of data that DPM 2012 can protect and the level of data that you can recover.

Product

Protectable Data

Recoverable Data

Exchange Server 2003

Exchange Server 2007

  •   Storage   group
  •   Storage   group
  •   Database
  •   Mailbox

Exchange Server 2010

Exchange Server 2013

  •   Stand-alone   Exchange servers
  •   Databases   under a database availability group (DAG)
 
  •   Mailbox
  •   Mailbox   databases under a DAG

SQL Server 2000

SQL Server 2005

SQL Server 2008

SQL Server 2008 R2

SQL Server 2012

  •   Database

 

  •    Database

Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007

SharePoint Server 2010

SharePoint Server 2013

  • Farm
  • SharePoint Search
  • Front-end Web server content
  • Farm
  • Database
  • Web Application
  • File or list item
  • SharePoint search
  • SharePoint Front-End Web Server

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2008

Windows Storage Server   2003

Windows Storage Server   2008

Windows Server 2008 R2

Windows Server 2012

  •   Volume
  •   Share
  •   Folder
 
  •   Volume
  •   Share
  •   Folder
  •   File

Hyper-V

  •   Hyper-V   computers
  •   Cluster   shared volumes

Item-level recovery of:

  •   Files   and folders
  •   Volumes
  •   Virtual   Hard Drive (VHD)

All computers that can be   protected by DPM except client computers

  •   System   state
  •    System   state

Client computers

  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and later.
  • Windows Vista or Windows Vista Service Pack   1 (SP1).
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  •    File   data

Virtual Machine Manager

  • Database
  •    Database

Table 1: Protectable and Recoverable Data

This article won’t cover in detail DPM features and functionality, it intends to be instead a prescriptive guidance for configuring and operating a backup strategy for Exchange 2013 servers. There is some detail about how VSS works with DPM in my previous article, Continuous Backup for Exchange Server 2010 with DPM 2012. Make sure you also visit the TechNet Library for more information about System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager.

Exchange Native Data Protection vs. DPM

As previously stated, Exchange 2013 (and also 2010) include a set of features that can provide native data protection. A backupless strategy using only Exchange built-in features requires you to keep at least 3 copies of the databases, being one of these copies, preferably, a lagged copy.

Exchange 2013 Native Data Protection is particular efficient and cost-effective for the following scenarios:

  • Disaster Recovery
  • Recovery of accidentally deleted items
  • Long-term data storage
  • Point-in-time database snapshot

Nevertheless, there are some situations where Exchange native protection mechanisms might not be enough, such as:

  • Application errors
  • Logical corruption
  • Security breaches
  • Malware

These are some of the benefits of implementing DPM in conjunction with DAGs:

  • Less complicated point-in-time (PIT) restoration – DPM allows administrators to perform PIT recovery with several quick selections from an intuitive GUI interface, minimizing the complexity and time required for a restoration.
  • Fewer Exchange servers needed - Leveraging DAGs to provide a comprehensive data protection solution requires that you deploy a minimum of three Exchange mailbox servers: one to host the active mailbox database, one to host the up-to-date copy, and one to host the lagged copy.
  • If you are attempting to also provide offsite backup and recovery, even more Exchange mailbox servers are required. With a DPM solution in place, offsite backup and PIT restores can be handled through DPM with DAGs implemented primarily as a high availability solution.
  • Longer retention range - By design, PIT recovery from a lagged recovery is limited to a maximum of 14 days. DPM enhances the data protection available to administrators by providing PIT restore from outside the 14-day limitation.
  • More consistent backup and recovery process - DPM allows an organization to use a consistent backup and recovery process across multiple workloads such as File servers, SQL, Hyper-V, and SharePoint

Solution Topology

For the purpose of writing this article, I installed the following environment on my test lab:

Image
Figure 2:
Solution topology used in this article 

Server Name

Role

Software

DPM2K12

Data   Protection Manager

Windows   Server 2012

System   Center DPM 2012 SP1

E2K13-MBX1

Domain   Controller

Mailbox   role

Client   Access role

Windows   Server 2012

Exchange   Server 2013 CU1

E2K13-MBX2

Mailbox   role

Client   Access role

Windows   Server 2012

Exchange   Server 2013 CU1

Table 2: List of servers

Configuration Process

Before starting to configure DPM 2012 to protect Exchange Server 2013, there are some pre-requisites that must be met:

  • System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager Service Pack 1 is necessary to support protection of Exchange Server 2013.
  • The eseutil.exe and ese.dll versions that are installed on the most recent release of Exchange Server must be the same versions that are installed on the DPM server (this will be covered during the article). In addition, you must update eseutil.exe and ese.dll on the DPM server if they are updated on a computer running Exchange Server after applying an upgrade or an update.
  • To protect an Exchange Server 2013 DAG node, you must install a protection agent on the node.

Protecting Exchange 2013 servers with DPM 2012 can be accomplished with these 4 configuration steps:

  1. Install DPM 2012 server (not covered in this article)
  2. Configuring disk/tape media (or cloud storage) for the DPM server
  3. Install DPM agents and preparing Exchange
  4. Configuring protection groups

Summary

And this concludes part 1 of this 5-part article. The next part will cover agent installation and the configuration of the Exchange protection groups in DPM 2012 SP1.

If you would like to read the other parts in this article series please go to:

The Author — Rui Silva

Rui Silva avatar

Rui Silva specializes in Unified Communications and Enterprise Cloud solutions, using Microsoft technologies, with a proven track record of 15+ years experience working with some of the biggest companies in Portugal and Western Europe. Rui can often be found in the cloud or on-premises contributing to the Technical Community through blogging, writing articles or with a presence in the social networks.

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