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Veeam Backup & Replication 9.5
User Guide for VMware vSphere

Direct SAN Access

The Direct SAN access transport mode is recommended for VMs whose disks are located on shared VMFS SAN LUNs that are connected to ESX(i) hosts over FC, FCoE, iSCSI, and on shared SAS storage.

In the Direct SAN access transport mode, Veeam Backup & Replication leverages VMware VADP to transport VM data directly from and to FC and iSCSI storage over the SAN. VM data travels over the SAN, bypassing ESX(i) hosts and the LAN. The Direct SAN access transport method provides the fastest data transfer speed and produces no load on the production network.

The Direct SAN access transport mode can be used for all operations where the backup proxy is engaged:

  • Backup
  • Replication
  • VM copy
  • Quick migration
  • Entire VM restore
  • VM disk restore
  • Replica failback

Requirements for the Direct SAN Access Mode

To use the Direct SAN access transport mode, make sure that the following requirements are met:

  • It is strongly recommended that you assign the role of a backup proxy working in the Direct SAN access mode to a physical machine. If you assign this role to a VM, the backup proxy performance may not be optimal.
  • A backup proxy using the Direct SAN access transport mode must have a direct access to the production storage via a hardware or software HBA. If a direct SAN connection is not configured or not available when a job or task starts, the job or task will fail.
  • SAN storage volumes presented as VMware datastores must be exposed to the OS of the backup proxy that works in the Direct SAN access transport mode.

The volumes must be visible in Disk Management but must not be initialized by the OS. Otherwise, the VMFS filesystem will be overwritten with NTFS, and volumes will become unrecognizable by ESX(i) hosts. To prevent volumes initialization, Veeam Backup & Replication automatically sets the SAN Policy within each proxy to Offline Shared.

  • [For restore operations] A backup proxy must have write access to LUNs where VM disks are located.

Limitations for the Direct SAN Access Mode

  • The Direct SAN access transport mode is not supported for VMs residing on vSAN. You can use Virtual Appliance and Network transport modes to process such VMs. For details on vSAN restrictions, see VDDK 5.5 Release Notes.
  • The Direct SAN access transport mode cannot be used if at least one VM disk is located on a VVol.
  • Veeam Backup & Replication uses the Direct SAN access transport mode to read and write VM data only during the first session of the replication job. During subsequent replication job sessions, Veeam Backup & Replication will use the Virtual Appliance or Network transport mode on the target side. The source side proxy will keep reading VM data from the source datastore in the Direct SAN access transport mode.

Veeam Backup & Replication writes VM data to the target datastore in the Direct SAN access transport mode only if disks of a VM replica are thick-provisioned. If disks are thin-provisioned, Veeam Backup & Replication will write VM data in the Network or Virtual Appliance mode. By default, Veeam Backup & Replication replicates VM disks in the thin format. To write VM data to the target datastore in the Direct SAN access transport mode, select to convert VM disks to the thick format at the Destination step of the replication job wizard.

  • The Direct SAN access transport mode can be used to restore only thick VM disks.
  • The Direct SAN access transport mode cannot be used for incremental restore due to VMware limitations. Either disable CBT for VM virtual disks for the duration of the restore process or select another transport mode for incremental restore.

For VMware vSphere 5.5 and later

IDE and SATA disks can be processed in the Direct SAN access transport mode.

For VMware vSphere 5.1 and earlier

  • IDE disks can be backed up in the Direct SAN access transport mode. Restore of IDE disks in the Direct SAN access transport mode is not supported.
  • If a VM disk fails to be processed in the Direct SAN access transport mode, Veeam Backup & Replication failover to the Network mode in not possible.
  • If some of VM disks are located not on the SAN LUNs, Veeam Backup & Replication will process the VM disks using the Network mode.

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