Retrospect Virtual - Run Direct

Virtualization


Instant VM Restore with Run Direct

What is Run Direct?

Run Direct is a feature that helps reduce disruption and downtime of your production VMs. Unlike normal VM restore procedure where a VM is extracted from backup files and copied to the production storage, which can take hours to complete. Restore with Run Direct can instantly power up a VM by running it directly from the backup files in the backup destination and the VM can be put into production.

When a Run Direct restore is performed, the backup destination is mounted as an NFS datastore from the VMware host, where the VM is run directly from the backup files.

The backup destination can either be the Virtual Console server or a local drive that can connect with Host Server. Initiating a Run Direct from the Virtual Console (also known as agentless restore) will trigger a connection directly with the VMWare host (ESXi server and the direction shown in orange indicator below), while initiating the same action on the Host Server requires the connection to route through the Retrospect Virtual Host Server (shown in green indication below).

The restored virtual machine, at this stage (e.g. before the restore is finalized) is in a read-only state to preserve its integrity. All changes made to the virtual disks (e.g. operation within the guest virtual machine) are stored separately in transaction logs stored on the NFS datastore or the original datastore, depending on the setting selected. These changes are discarded when Run Direct is stopped, where the restored VM will be removed and all changes will be discarded, or the changes will be consolidated with the original virtual machine data when the restore is finalized.

The restored virtual machine, at this stage (e.g. before the restore is finalized) is in a read-only state to preserve its integrity. All changes made to the virtual disks (e.g. operation within the guest virtual machine) are stored separately in transaction logs stored on the NFS datastore or the original datastore, depending on the setting selected. These changes are discarded when Run Direct is stopped, where the restored VM will be removed and all changes will be discarded, or the changes will be consolidated with the original virtual machine data when the restore is finalized.

Settings Differences between Run Direct and Non-Run Direct Backup Set on VMware

Feature Run Direct Backup Set Non-Run Direct Backup Set

Encryption

No

Yes

Compression

No

Yes

VDDK (CBT)

Yes

Yes

Virtual Console

Yes

Yes

Local Destination

Yes

Yes

Cloud Destination

No

Yes

Finalizing a VM Recovery (Migrating VM to permanent location)

To finalize recovery of a VM, you will still need to migrate it to a permanent location on the VMware host. The following steps are taken when you finalize a Run Direct restore:

  1. VMware Snapshot: A VMware snapshot is created for the VM

  2. Copying Files: Backup files from the NFS datastore are copied to the production datastore on the VMware host.

  3. Copying Changes: Changes made to the VM after the snapshot creation are moved to the new location.

  4. Data Consolidation: The VM is temporarily suspended to consolidate the changes made after the snapshot creation.

  5. Resume VM: After all changes are consolidated, the VM is resumed.

  6. Dismount NFS datastore: The NFS datastore is dismounted.

Let’s go through the process.

  1. Select to restore the VM to its Original location (to the original ESXi host and datastore), or to an Alternate location (to a different VMware host or to another datastore).

  2. Enable the Run Direct option to run the VM directly from the backup files in the backup destination.

  3. Configure the next following options according to your restore requirement. Click Next to proceed when you are done with the settings.

  4. Enter a new Name for the VM, then Browse to modify the Inventory Location, Host/Cluster, Resource Pool and Storage settings, according to where you would like the VM to be restored to. Click Next to proceed when you are done with the settings.

  5. Select the temporary directory for storing temporary files.

  6. Click Restore to start the restoration.

Verifying Run Direct Restore Connection

When a run direct restore is initiated, the following steps are taken at the backend.

  • Create NAS datastore: The backup destination is turned into a NFS (also known as NAS) datastore.

  • Mount VM on ESXi Server: The NFS datastore is mounted on the ESXi Server.

  • Create Virtual Machine Snapshot: A snapshot of the virtual machine is created. All changes made during Run Direct is taken place will be stored temporarily in this snapshot, and the changes will not be committed to the virtual machine until a migration is done.

  • Power on Virtual Machine*: The virtual machine is being powered on so it can be run directly from the backup files.

Check the following items to verify if the run direct restore connection has been established between the backup destination and the VMware host.

  • The following screen with the text Restore Completed Successfully displayed in your Retrospect Virtual Host Server.

    Virtual run direct restore1

    Virtual run direct restore2

  • You should also be able to see the restored VM being run directly from the backup files in the backup destination.

    Virtual run direct restore3

    Note: Do not exit from the Retrospect Virtual Host Server application when a Run Direct restored VM is still running. Run Direct must be stopped (e.g. by finalizing recovery of the VM or stopping the VM) before exiting Retrospect Virtual Host Server.

Manage Run Direct VM

Manage a Run Direct restored virtual machine, by finalizing the VM recovery (e.g. migrating it to a permanent location on the VMware host), or stop the virtual machine when it is no longer needed.

  1. Click the Restore icon on the main interface of Retrospect Virtual Host Server.

  2. Click Manage Run Direct virtual machines to manage all Run Direct virtual machines.

Finalize VM Restore

To finalize recovery of a VM, migrate it to a permanent location on the VMware host:

  1. Select the backup set which contains the Run Direct VM that you would like to finalize.

  2. Click Browse to select the datastore where you would like to migrate the VM to.

  3. Click Migrate Virtual Machine to start the migration process.

Note: For VM on ESXi host, the VM may be suspended temporarily during the migration process. The downtime of the VM should be minimal.

Stop Run Direct VM

To stop all virtual machines, or individual virtual machine that is running with the Run Direct feature:

  1. Click Stop all Run Direct virtual machines to stop all VMs that are currently running with the Run Direct option. Alternatively, select the backup set which contains the VM that you would like to stop.

  2. Click Stop Run Direct to the VM.


Last Update: July 17, 2020