vSphere Upgrade – The Backup Saga

I recently donated the last of my DL380 G3 systems to Keefe Technical Highschool for use as their ESX v3 Cluster. The only issue was that this machine was also my last remaining server that I had yet to virtualized and it was my backup server with quite a bit of disk space, connection to my tape libraries and my DISC Blu-Safe backup library. To virtualize my backup server was going to be difficult at best as I am switching entirely from Tape devices to Blu-ray devices.

I explained this choice in another post but suffice it to say, I need to be able to connect this USB device to a VM and then use it as part of my backup solution. This required a bit more work than before as now I had to include in my vNetwork a USB over IP device that would allow not only my printer but my Blu-Safe to be seen by multiple and individual VMs.  For this I chose the Belkin FL5009 5-port USB over IP device. While it has its issues, such as not working across a NAT, it does however allow me to share my printer with other VMs while locking the Blu-Safe to a very specific VM.

My Backup solutions require Windows 2003 and the Belkin FL5009 only works with Windows XP, Vista, or 7, which I found very frustrating until I discovered this post, “Setting up USB in VMware ESX and ESXi“. With only a few tweaks I was able to get the Belkin FL5009 to work as a service. The first tweak I did, was to upgrade my Windows 2003 template to Virtual Hardware version 7, which required a VMware Tools Upgrade to be done first. Once that was completed, I also added a USB device to the VM.

Added a USB device? Wait you could not do that before. Alas! You can now, vSphere Virtual Hardware 7 for ESX VMs. Just adding this device will ensure that all the proper drivers are available for USB over IP devices as well. Specifically you will need at least USBD.SYS, USBHOST.SYS,  and USBPORT.SYS and generally a few more. The other tweak is the paths this post used such as /../Belkin, etc. These paths do not exist, but really mean the Belkin Directory previously mentioned. Do not get to confused. If you have a Windows XP system, install the Belkin FL5009 connection manager and copy the files out. This is usually the best method. Be sure you have the proper files if you are using a 64bit version of a VM. I am not as I could not upgrade to Windows 2008 as Blu-safe does not support it. Definitely, make the Connect.exe for the Belking FL5009 a server per the how-to.

So, everything should work on a reboot, alas it does not. I could not ‘see’ the Blu-Safe from the VM at this point I went to sleep for the night.

In the morning, I looked at it again, checked all the service settings, restarted the VM, reconnected the devices within the Belkin FL5009 and still had no luck. More research showed a “Disc Jukebox Service.” I restarted this service and viola, the Blu-safe was now accessible to the Blu-safe manager.  So I know know that the Belkin Connect.exe service should start before the Disc Jukebox Service. The simple solution to this problem is to add a dependency on the Disc Jukebox Service requiring the Belken USB Hub Service to start first. To do this add a new Key to the HKLMSystemControlSet001servicesDISC_VSMC_A registry element of the name ‘DependOnService’ with a Type of REG_MULTI_SZ and a value of ‘Belkin USB Hub Service’. Now the Blu-ray device will be accessible on boot.

Takeaways:

  • The Belkin USB over IP device FL5009 does allow multiple machines to pin USB ports or to share them in the case of my printer
  • vSphere Virtual Hardware 7 contains a USB device that should be used when trying to connect to USB over IP devices so that there is no more looking for missing device drivers.
  • Sometimes there are service dependencies for devices presented by USB over IP to a VM.

Now to find enough diskspace on an already crowded SAN to temporarily place the backups before putting them onto the Blu-safe!

Edward Haletky

Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is an author, analyst, developer, technologist, and business owner. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and TVP Strategy where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization.

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