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RHEV Backup – Why it is Important

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Updated 26th September 2022, Rob Morrison

Introduction to RHEV

RHEV stands for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (often called RHV). It is a virtualization platform from Red Hat that combines RHEL server OS (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) with the KVM hypervisor (Kernel-based Virtualization Machine) and works with both desktop and server environments. At its core, RHV provides a centralized VM management server with a web-based interface, it can work with both Windows and Linux-based operating systems and also supports a variety of enterprise applications, such as Oracle, SAP, and more.

Virtualization is a rather popular approach that continues to get increasing users due to the large number of advantages that it can provide – including operation efficiency, more flexibility in its application, and lowered complexity in some cases. The problem here is that virtual machines as a whole fundamentally rely more on software rather than hardware, which can sometimes makes them more vulnerable to software issues.

For example, one single process crashing can potentially manifest to make the entire VM to fail, since each VM runs multiple processes at once and most of them are connected to each other in different ways. This also makes VMs vulnerable to various memory leaks and other incidents that may result in data loss. As such, data protection and backup measures are especially important when it comes to RHV and to VMs as a whole.

RHEV manager engine backup and restore

RHV engine backup

As with many other virtualization platforms, RHV has its own means of creating basic backup and recovery operations with a bit of customization included. The backup command itself that we are looking for is engine-backup, and it has several different arguments that can be added to customize it to a certain degree.

# engine-backup

For example, -mode=backup is a setting that specifies the operation type, which is set as “backup” in our case.

The -scope=all is what designates what files are going to be backed up in the process – “all” implies that every file is going to be backed up, while there are also options such as “files” for product files specifically, “db” exclusively for Engine database, “dwhdb” for Data Warehouse database info, and more.

Additionally, you would also have to include -file=/backups/backupengine080920 to specify both the backup file name and the path to the backup itself – as you can see, our backup would be saved in the “backups” directory with the name “backupengine080920”.

The -log=/backupengine080920.log argument works in a similar fashion, specifying the file name and the location for the backup log file.

Additional information about backup as an operation, as well as several other arguments, can be found by using this specific command:

# engine-backup  – -help

RHV engine backup

The restoration process for RHV backups works in a similar fashion, but it is highly recommended to perform a number of preparations before conducting it – which includes cleaning up and reinstalling the RHV engine itself.

The first command here is all about cleaning up the engine setup that you currently have, and it is supposed to look like this:

# engine-cleanup  – -log=/backup/cleanup.log
The -log argument here is nearly identical to the one we have described above, specifying the filename and the path to the cleanup log file or files. The next step here is to uninstall ovirt-engine package and do a few more steps if the ovirt-provide-ovn is used:

# yum remove ovirt-engine
# systemctl restart ovn-northd.service
# ovn-sbctl del-ssl
The usage of the second and third command lines is not required if ovirt-provide-ovn is not used, since you would not have to reset the certificate authority in that case. The next logical step in this process would be to reinstall both the ovirt-engine package and the RHV engine itself:

# yum install ovirt-engine

# engine-backup  – -mode=restore  – -file=/backups/backupengine080920  – -log=/backupengine080920.log  – -restore-permissions

While the former command is self-explanatory, the latter has one new argument aside from the three that have been explained already. This argument is -restore-permissons, and it may be needed in some specific cases (as well as its counterpart -no-restore-permissions) to restore custom backup dumps.

The last part of this entire process is to set up the engine that we have just restored, using a simple command engine-setup.

# engine-setup

Third party RHV backup solutions

As you can see from the information above, both the backup and the recovery processes that RHV offers in itself are rather limited and offer the bare minimum of customization. Fortunately, there is a host of third-party RHV backup solutions that offer many options for different use cases, from small companies to large enterprises.

For example, a RHV backup solution from Vembu offers both a guest-level and a VM-level backup capabilities for RHV-based virtual machines, along with a variety of features and benefits. Some of these features are:

  • VM migration capabilities;
  • App-level recovery;
  • Changed Block Tracking technology;
  • App-aware VM backup capabilities;
  • Instant file-level recovery and fast full VM recovery;
  • Ability to automate backup verification, and more.

Veeam also has its own take on protecting Red Hat Virtualization machines, with features such as snapshot-based protection, improved business continuity functions, as well as flexibility in its recovery options, and Veeam’s own Scale-out Backup Repository technology. Feature overlap is inevitable on this market; Veeam also has Changed Block Tracking, app-level recovery, and so on

Acronis offers RHV backup technology – Its Acronis Cyber Protect product can offer server migration capabilities, app-based backups, different backup types, disaster recovery capabilities and centralized backup management. Additionally, there is support for hybrid cloud protection, image-based backups, and more.

In this context it is also important to remember about solutions such as Bacula Enterprise and its modular architecture that allows for a large range of different capabilities and integrations. It provides not only basic full image-level backup for RHV VMs, but also the ability to backup machines in different states, as well as the other features we have discussed before. Its agentless backup delivers Full image-level backup, Incremental and Differential backup levels. It is also completely agnostic to storage back-end.

At the same time, Bacula Enterprise has its own share of unique or less common features to offer in terms of RHV backup capabilities – such as disk exclusion, failed backup controls, password obfuscation, VM exclusion, different backup types,  and restored VM configuration on-the-go. It is an especially comprehensive solution with a variety of capabilities for different use cases and target audiences in the field of Red Hat Virtualization backup, and it is a great choice no matter how small or big your company is. One of the reasons for this is that Bacula does not have capacity-based pricing, so users are free to back up as much data as they wish.

Some other notable features of Bacula’s RHV backup and recovery features are Transparent quiescing and snapshot creation; restore to the same or different cluster/storage, existing or new virtual instances, single file restore, configuration of restored virtual machines on the fly, and option to restore to plain files for further processing.

Disk exclusion is a nice addition to this solution, which helps to control backup granularity and capacity requirements. Administrators can set up a general, automated backup, for big sets of VMs and can choose not to backup specific storage destinations. At the same time, users can retain customized configuration to simplify administration tasks. VM exclusion is also available.

Some users may have a critical need to back up ‘live’ data, in which case, Bacula’s backup of RHV in a “running”, “paused” or “shut off” state can be invaluable.

It is worth mentioning that not every backup solution on the market can offer RHV backup capabilities on a VM level. However, there are still plenty of backup software that focuses on other parts of this same field or did not yet have the ability to implement these features. Dell NetWorker would be a good example of that, it does not yet have image-level backup capability for Red Hat VMs, which is why all it can do is to create backups of these machines on a guest level (this also applies to other KVM environments).


The use of virtual machines has for some time now been a popular thing in many different industries, making it easier for many different kinds of organizations to be more productive, efficient and flexible. The vulnerability of virtual machines is still a rather concerning problem, but this article may hopefully have been enough to assure you that there are enough both built-in and third-party backup and recovery solutions in place for RHV, offering a wealth of different features, benefits and advantages, to overcome the backup and recovery challenges you may be facing.

About the author
Rob Morrison
Rob Morrison is the marketing director at Bacula Systems. He started his IT marketing career with Silicon Graphics in Switzerland, performing strongly in various marketing management roles for almost 10 years. In the next 10 years Rob also held various marketing management positions in JBoss, Red Hat and Pentaho ensuring market share growth for these well-known companies. He is a graduate of Plymouth University and holds an Honours Digital Media and Communications degree, and completed an Overseas Studies Program.
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