Feb 4 2008

How to keep backups from hogging your VM bandwidth

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About a month into our file server consolidation project at work, we receive a call from the Sales manager that one of their applications that runs from the new file server is slow. It is taking five minutes to create a report that should only take about 30 seconds to 1 minute. This particular file server happens to be a Virtual Machine that is connected to an iSCSI storage array. However, the fact that it is a VM has nothing to do with the slowdown. Here’s the troubleshooting process that we took.

We ran the particular sales report on the server locally. It behaved as normal. Hmmm…

When we ran the same report via UNC path on a separate workstation we experienced the slowdown. AHA! Bandwidth. A quick check of the switch port utilization revealed the culprit. Our backups were still running into the morning. They were hogging all the bandwidth by shoving all that data across the network into the tape library. It was not a processing power issue because the reports were running just fine on the local VM. We stopped the backup job temporarily and we could run the reports quickly again. So how did we fix it? By using the below steps.

-We added another physical NIC to the VMWare ESX host server.

-After we added the NIC we created another vSwitch called “VM Backup Network.”

-Then we added another virtual NIC to the file server VM and attached it to the “VM Backup Network.”

-Booted the file server VM, assigned it an IP address and the VM side was done.

-Then we configured our backup software to backup the VM via the new IP Address.

Voila! Bandwidth redirection. Take that you bandwidth hungry backup. The sales reports run beautifully now and our bandwidth sucking backup can have its fill. Happy Data Archiving!

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