Best Practices for Integrating Neverfail Heartbeat with Backup Solutions: Heartbeat V4.5 or Earlier

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Summary

This Knowledgebase article describes supported backup technologies and how best to integrate them with Neverfail Heartbeat versions up to and including V4.5.

More Information 

The information in this knowledgebase article should be reviewed:

  • Prior to installing Neverfail Heartbeat on to a server where a backup solution is already deployed.
  • Prior to installing a backup solution on to a server pair where Neverfail Heartbeat is already deployed.
  • If you are currently running, or are planning to run, a more recent version of Neverfail Heartbeat, please refer to Knowledgebase article #1172 - 'Best Practices for Integrating Neverfail Heartbeat V4.6 or Later with Backup Solutions'.

Supported Technologies

Veritas Backup Exec 9.x, Legato and NTBackup.

Overview

There are no AMXs for these applications, so some manual integration is required. The amount of integration depends on how the backup solution is implemented within your organization.

Exclusions

Please ensure that you exclude the following directories from the backup job:

  • %installdir%\neverfail\r2\log including subdirectories
  • c:\nfpagfile.sys (up to Neverfail Heartbeat V4.5)

Remote Backup Agents

If backups are to be performed on the active server regardless of identity (Primary or Secondary) then Neverfail recommends the use of remote backup agents. The backup jobs are managed by a remote server, which hosts the management software for the configuration of the backup jobs and the backup hardware media.

This offers seamless integration because it alleviates the need to duplicate:

  • Configuration changes between servers.
  • Backup hardware (tape drives etc.)

No integration changes are required because backup agents can be left running on the server regardless of role.

Local Server Backup

If the backup and management software is installed directly on the Primary server, then some changes will need to be made prior to the installation of Neverfail Heartbeat. There are two possible strategies for this type of configuration with advantages / disadvantages to each. Please read the Caution before proceeding.

Caution: While the configuration will be replicated to the Secondary server during the cloning process, future changes to the configuration will not be replicated. It is therefore the Administrator's responsibility to maintain configuration changes between the two servers if the backup jobs are to be run on the Secondary Server. Documenting changes made to the configuration on the Primary would be a useful way to maintain this information.

    1.  
        1. Approach 1 - Backup Media Attached to the Primary Server
            1. Configuration Required
                1. Prior to installing Neverfail Heartbeat, set all backup services to manual and stopped on the Primary server.
                2. Perform the installation of Neverfail Heartbeat as per documentation.
                3. When the installation is complete, start the backup services on the Primary-active server.
                4. Edit the %installdir%\neverfail\r2\scripts\%application%\[start.bat | stop.bat] scripts to include the short names for all the backup services after all other listed services:

              Example Start Script

              NfNet Start "BackupService" /R || set FAILED=1

              Example Stop Script

              NfNet Stop "BackupService" /R || set FAILED=1

            2. Issues
              1. Connect backup hardware / media to the Secondary server.
              2. Check the backup software configuration to ensure it is correct and up-to-date.
              3. Start the backup services manually. 
              4.  Add stop commands for the backup services to the Neverfail stop.bat script. This ensures that when a switch to the Primary server occurs, the services are stopped, preventing conflicts between backup jobs running on the Primary and Secondary servers simultaneously.

          If the Primary server is ever out of commission for an extended period of time (e.g. waiting for replacement hardware) then some manual intervention will be required to start the backup jobs on the Secondary server.

      The backup services are configured to run only on the Primary server when active because the backup media is attached only to that server. Backup services are disabled on the Secondary server. No Backup configuration changes need to be made to the software on the Secondary server because the software is not running on that server.

      1. Approach 2 - Shared / Accessible Backup Media

The Primary and Secondary servers can share the backup hardware / media either because it is attached to both servers or because the hardware is duplicated. While this has the benefit of ensuring backups can run on both servers, backup tool configuration changes are not replicated. The administrator will need to duplicate any changes made on the Primary server to the Secondary server.

Configuration Required: 

    1. Prior to installing Neverfail Heartbeat, set all backup services to manual and stopped on the Primary server.
    2. Perform the install of Neverfail Heartbeat as per documentation.
    3. Edit the %installdir%\neverfail\r2\scripts\%application%\[start.bat | stop.bat] scripts to include the short names for all the backup services after all other listed services:

Example Start Script

NfNet Start "BackupService" /R || set FAILED=1

Example Stop Script

NfNet Stop "BackupService" /R || set FAILED=1

For further information please see Knowledgebase article #890 - Advice for Configuring Services with Dependencies in Neverfail Heartbeat (Script and Monitor)'.

Operational Issues

Full System Checks

Please avoid scheduling a Neverfail Heartbeat Full System Check when a Backup job is due to run. Competition between file access for backup and file access for verification may increase the time to backup. This is especially important in environments with large databases (Exchange or SQL Server) where the time to backup a file is considerable.

Pre/Post Backup Commands

Care should be taken when executing commands before or after a backup job. You should not attempt to stop services protected by the Neverfail Application Module Monitor service, as the Monitor service will restart them next time it performs a service check (by default, this will happen within 2 minutes). If you need to stop one of these services to perform a backup then it is recommended that you stop the Neverfail Application Monitor service (NeverfailMonitor) in the script and restart it in the post command script.

Please note that this will leave remaining monitoring and services unprotected, so be sure that this is an acceptable strategy before taking any such action. It is not always necessary to stop services to back them up; for example, Microsoft Exchange has a backup API that allows the services to remain online during a backup.

Applies To

Neverfail Heartbeat V4.5 or Earlier

Related Information

None 

KBID-308 

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