NetBackup release 10.3 offers several great new features for vSphere 8.X VMware vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP) backup users using MSDP storage. The first feature allows improved access to vSphere DataSet information, which makes other key features possible. DataSets are a feature available starting in vSphere 8 that allows sharing data between the vSphere management layer and guest virtual machines (VMs) using key-value pairs. Applications and agents running inside guest VMs can access DataSet information via VMware Tools commands for uses such as guest deployment status, agent configuration, and setting/configuring guest metadata. This improved access is installed as part of NetBackup 10.3 and is enabled by default.
VMware recommends that each application stores pertinent information in unique DataSets to avoid conflicts with other applications. Furthermore, DataSets should not contain sensitive information such as plain text passwords as they are visible to other applications both in the vSphere management network and the Guest OS. DataSets are a component of a VM object and any operations such as a snapshot, clone, or migration will contain DataSets for the related VM(s) and the associated entries. DataSets are supported for VMs configured with the VMX-20 or later hardware version. Note that this feature does not support “Add or Remove” DataSets for the VM. That functionality is controlled by VMware.
Another new DataSet feature in NetBackup 10.3+ is improved code synchronization between NetBackup and VMware for accessing DataSet information. PyVmomi is the typically used Python software developer's kit (SDK) for the VMware vSphere API that allows you to manage ESX, ESXi, and vCenter. This third-party software library isn't always updated often enough to match NetBackup's code releases/maintenance patches. So, in release 10.3 we replace PyVmomi with VMware Tools to access DataSet information. VMware Tools is a set of services and components that enable several features in various VMware products for better management and seamless user interactions with guest operating systems. Since it's part of VMware, VMware tools is easy to maintain, update, and keep synchronized with 10.3+ releases.
NetBackup release 10.3+ uses DataSet information to support another new NetBackup feature, Instant Access (IA) VM Support for vSphere 8.X. Instant Access offers a fully automated user experience enabling VMware and NetBackup administrators to seamlessly recover files and folders to a guest VM without the need to install/maintain any agents on the guest. This IA support is also made possible by replacing PyVmomi with VMware Tools to access DataSet information.
Some additional DataSet behavior is improved as well. Pre-10.3, Instant Rollback (IR) would not rollback DataSets; it would only rollback changes on to a VM's virtual disks (VMDKs). Now IR can rollback with improved DataSet access. This gives a more complete VM rollback by recovering more of the information linked to the VM being recovered.
You can read more detailed information about vSphere DataSets here: