Testing Veeam Tape features with HP StoreOnce VTL

One of the things that I don’t work with much is tape… in any fashion. However while working on a project I was asked how Veeam did with tape out. I tried to think of where I had used tape with Veeam before and I couldn’t think of a single instance… which is probably why I have installed so many dedupe appliances 🙂 . So I did the only thing a real geek would do… I started looking for a tape drive for my home lab.

You would think, since people have been saying that tape is dead, that I would be able to pick up something pretty cheap. However I soon figured out that quite the opposite was true if I wanted anything with a fiber channel interface. What to do?

What about VTL? Both Data Domain and HP StoreOnce provide VTL features, but on the StoreOnce VSA you do not need a license to enable it. So I logged into one of the StoreOnce VSA’s that I had already deployed and started messing around. It took very little effort before my Veeam server had a fully functional MSL 2024 attached… and the best part is that it didn’t cost me anything!

So the purpose of this article is to show how to get an HP StoreOnce VSA with the VTL options talking to Veeam Backup and Replication, I won’t cover anything in terms of creating jobs or best practices inside of Veeam because frankly I don’t yet have the experience to be making those recommendations, but as I am able to play around with this more I will share what I learn. Also for owners of Data Domain and / or HP StoreOnce, this article should not be considered a way to utilize those products in a production environment. I have to think that writing data directly to NFS/CIFS on these devices would be better than going through the VTL features. (The only thing I’m thinking that might be useful for this though is extended retention where you want Veeam to keep GFS copies, but after I look into that more I will create a separate article for that).

Getting the HP StoreOnce side ready

After deploying the StoreOnce VSA login to it and click on the VTL option. It should have “Auto Create” enabled.

vtl

If it is not enabled, click ‘Edit’ and then enable the option. This is all that is needed on the StoreOnce side ot get started, we could however manually create a VTL, but unless you want to copy and paste IQN’s it’s easier to just let it auto create one, and then we can edit it later.

iSCSI configuration on Veeam Server

The VTL features of StoreOnce VSA rely on an iSCSI connection. So the first thing we need to do on the Veeam server is enable the iSCSI initiator (if it isn’t already enabled), you can enable it by simply opening the iSCSI Initiator in Control Panel.

Then enter the IP address of the HP StoreOnce VSA in the Target box and click ‘Quick Connect’. Then in the Discovered targets area click each of the targets and click connect (at least the ones that are related to HP StorageOnce).

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By default you should have one drive and once robot listed in the targets window. After connecting the targets you can check Windows device manager to see if they show up. You are looking for a “Media Changer” and an “unknown device”.

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Before we install the drivers for these devices we will want to go back over to the StoreOnce VSA and change properties of the VTL to emulate an MSL 2024 (or whatever MSL you want to play with).

Configuring VTL settings on StoreOnce

Click on the VTL item on the left to expand it then select ‘Library’. On the right side of the page you should now see the VTL that was auto created when you connected to the VTL iSCSI targets.

library

By default it’s emulating a generic drive, but I wanted it to emulate the same MSL that I was looking at on eBay. So if you click on the library then down at the very bottom of the page select ‘Edit’. Then select the “MSL G3 Series 2×24” emulation type. You can also select how many tape’s you would like the VTL to see too, by default it sets the max number for the emulation type. Click save.

Once this has been changed we can do back over to Windows and install the HP MSL drivers and then do the actual Veeam Configuration.

Installing MSL Drivers on Veeam Tape Server

Some backup software wants you to use only their drivers, but Veeam is different, they aren’t in the driver business so they recommend you use the manufacturer’s drivers. So for the HP MSL series that we are emulating you need to download the drivers from  http://h18006.www1.hp.com/products/storageworks/tapecompatibility.html. FYI I would fully expect this link to break once the HP/Hewlet Packard split happens. So you might have to just google “HP Tape compatibility and Tools”.

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Once you get to this page click on the “Hp StoreEver Tape Drivers” link.

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At the time of this driving the driver version was 4.0.0 and the file name is cp023805.exe. Download the drivers, and then extract them to a folder somewhere on the Veeam server. I say extract because for whatever reason HP has decided to not allow any of their tape drivers to install in a virtual environment… HP YOU SHOULD FIX THIS…

Here is the error you can expect if you click install.

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So after extracting the files to somewhere on the server you can head back into Device Manager and click on the Robot or the drive and select ‘Update Driver’. Then navigate to the folder where you extracted the drivers, and select the OS folder that matches your Veeam server. Then click next through all the pretty boxes until you see a screen that looks like this:

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Then repeat for the other related device… either the drive or the robot:

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Then you have all the drivers installed that you need. Now we can open Veeam and configure it to see the MSL.

Veeam Tape Configuration

After you get Veeam B&R opened up you can navigate to the Tape Infrastructure area. The first thing we need to do is select “Add a Tape Server” from the list. I installed the iSCSI VTL on the server listed as “This Server”, but if you are planning to dedicate a server to just doing tape, then select the appropriate server from the list.

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If there are restrictions on traffic for this tape server you can set those up on on this page otherwise click next

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Typical Veeam review page… next.

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Here you can monitor the progress of the tape agent install.. then click next.

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Normally I don’t show the Finish page, but this one contains an important check box. The “Start tape library inventory” box…make sure that is checked so that you get an initial inventory of your tapes.

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When you first open you all of the new things on the left side your tapes will appear under an unknown media pool, but as the inventory happens they will move over to the Free media pool. Once all of the tapes are in the free media pool you are ready to start doing Veeam backup’s to tape!

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Lastly I wanted to send a big THANK YOU out to the HP Storage team for creating the StoreOnce VSA… If I didn’t have it it would be much harder to learn and to do my job, so Thank You!

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5 Responses to "Testing Veeam Tape features with HP StoreOnce VTL"

  1. Hi Justin,
    nice article. I do have one question though:
    If you now use an already configured job running weekly active fulls on a deduped appliance with 60 restore points and you pinpoint the secondary copy to the tape (library) and configure it to only backup the “full” set, the next time the job runs, it will take ALL fulls residing on the disk storage, not just the newest one. Can you confirm this or maybe solve this???

    Because you don´t want to backup 30 or more TeraBytes of Data instead of the one full backup you actually want to backup.

  2. I believe that when you first start a tape job it asks if you want to start tape operations with the latest full backup then go forward … or if you want everything.

    Not an expert on tape operations yet though.

  3. The “latest Full” option was added with the patch in April. But even now, after the first Full Backup we get the same behaviour with upcoming new fulls just adding up. It might be a good solution if you use reverse incremental, but that option is not possible with a dedupe appliance as a target…
    I will check further and see what I can find out. 🙂

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