A fellow colleague of mine was looking to deploy the latest vSphere Data Protection Advanced (VDP[A]) 5.5 in his lab this past week to check out some of the new enhancements made to VDP and interoperability between other VMware solutions. However, he was unable to move forward with his evaluation due to the mandatory DNS requirement for VDP. I can understand the need for having proper DNS in a production or even a POC environment but for a quick evaluation or home lab it is a bit much. In my opinion I think it is a nice to have but it should not be a mandatory requirement.

As part of the networking settings, VDP assumes that configured IP Address is fully resolvable both forward/reverse lookups and manually adding an entry into /etc/hosts will not work. If you try to move forward in the wizard, you will receive this nice error message.

I decided to look into this as I faced a similar challenge in my personal home lab which does not have a DNS Server due to limited resources unlike my remote home lab which has a proper DNS server running. Though we can not get rid of the DNS requirement since it is part of the VDP code, we can however leverage an application found within VDP to help us. This nifty little application is called dnsmasq which is a lightweight server that provides basic DNS, DHCP & TFTP services for a small network which works great for an evaluation or home lab.

Disclaimer: I have been able to verify basic VDP functionality including a complete VM image backup/restore using the method below. However, it is still recommended that you still have proper DNS configured in your environment for in-depth testing of VDP, especially when evaluating for a production environment.

Step 1 - Deploy the VDP OVA as you normally would and when you specify the network configurations, ensure you set the DNS entry to 127.0.0.1 (loop back address) and then you can power on the VM after deployment.

Step 2 - Once VDP is up and running, SSH into the system using root as username and changeme as the password. We will then need to update /etc/hosts to reflect the IP Address/Hostname of our VDP appliance as well as any others you may want VDP to be able to resolve. In my environment I have the following:

192.168.1.104 vdp.primp-industries.com vdp
192.168.1.103 vcenter.primp-industries.com vcenter
192.168.1.200 mini.primp-industries.com mini

Note: I would also recommend adding your "search" domain into /etc/resolv.conf (e.g. search primp-industries.com)

Step 3 - Next we need to edit the dnsmasq configuration file located in /etc/dnsmasq.conf and add the following entry (replace it with the IP Address you have assigned your VDP appliance):

server=192.168.1.104

Step 4 - Finally we just need to start the dnsmasq service as well as enable it to automatically startup on boot by running the following two commands:

/etc/init.d/dnsmasq start
chkconfig dnsmasq on

Step 5 - To confirm that everything has been configured correctly, we will perform both a forward and reverse lookup of our VDP hostname and IP Address. You can do so by using "nslookup" command or any others such as dig or host. In this example, I will be using nslookup and you will need to run the following two commands (ensure to replace it with your hostname/IP Address):

nslookup vdp.primp-industries.com
nslookup 192.168.1.104

Once you have confirmed both forward and reverse lookups are successful, you can then proceed to configuring your VDP appliance by opening a browser to https://[VDP-ADDRESS]:8543/vdp-configure and proceed with moving forward with the VDP configuration wizard.

Note: Ensure that 127.0.0.1 is shown in the VDP configuration UI for the DNS entry. For hostname, you will need to use the short hostname even though a hostname is officially defined as specifying the FQDN

One of the cool new features that I personally wanted to check out is the new emergency Direct-to-Host Emergency Restore functionality. This feature allows you to restore VM backups in the scenario that vCenter Server is not available and one such use case is when you are using VDP to backup vCenter Server itself which I have been able to successfully test in my home lab.

9 thoughts on “How to evaluate vSphere Data Protection without DNS?

  1. Hi William! Thanks for this info, I appreciate very much that you post workarounds for requirements that may not easily be satisfiable in a home lab.
    But… don’t we need a DNS server anyway to properly run vCenter? I mean, all one needs is bind on a tiny Debian Netinst VM with a few GB of disk and 256 MB memory. These resources can easily be taken away from the vCenter VM. πŸ˜‰
    There’s dozens of bind how-tos available, but if you think that step-by-step instructions for the VMware followers would be helpful I’d volunteer. πŸ™‚
    (Or, maybe even better, a Fling? πŸ˜‰ )

    • DNS is not required to properly run vCenter Server, it’ll run fine via IP. VDP for some reason requires full reverse/forward DNS. For a lab environment this is probably sufficient, but if you want to build more of a representative environment then yea you could setup additional infrastructure services like a directory service, DNS, etc. I primarily wrote this for quick testing in a lab without requiring additional configurations.

      I agree, setting up a DNS server is pretty easy but it really depends on the skillset of the individual. This really has nothing to do with VMware, it’s core infrastructure service. I’m sure there are hundreds of tutorials out there but if you wish to write one up, I’m sure others would find it useful πŸ™‚ and yes you can easily run this inside VCSA. I’ve even ran NFS but be careful during upgrades as the system may not like additional installed packages

  2. Hmm, OK, I’d still (sorry πŸ˜‰ ) think one should not try to run vC without a proper DNS – there’s too many problems you could run into unless you exactly know what you’re doing. Just my 2ct.
    Yeah, sure, that’s core infrastructure and not VMware’s business, 100% agree. I think I’m going to write something down. Or provide a tarball and some scripts, something like that.

    Running it on the vCSA? Wow. I wouldn’t dare to try that. πŸ™‚ Once I looked behind the curtains of the update process when trying to figure out what caused this awful delay in 5.x I decided to never mess with the packages. ;-)))

  3. Am getting error, when i connect vdp appliance through web client.. error is The selected appliance must be powered on to connect.

  4. Hi William,

    Thanks for the great site and all the tricks on VMware products πŸ™‚

    I actually followed the steps above deploying vdp on vCenter appliance 5.5 (using web client), but I ended up with the following error message:

    “Unable to find this VDP in the vCenter inventory.”

    Any ideas?

    Appreciate your help in advance mate,

    Max

  5. Thanks you so much! I was going round in circles trying to get this working and just want to have a “play” with VDP, not troubleshoot a DNS problem!

Thanks for the comment!