Post by Mike Rose, Systems Engineer, Midmarket and Small Business Team
In today’s market there is no shortage of backup technologies to address virtual infrastructure. There are dozens of vendors with multiple solutions and this can easily and quickly contribute to confusion. Very quickly you will find yourself buried in questions like:
- Can I understand the complicated licensing model?
- How hard is it to deploy in my virtual environment?
- Do I need to deploy agents?
- What kind of overhead will be required of the virtual machine itself?
- How will I get my staff trained on this solution?
It’s clear that during my daily conversations with customers, IT leaders and staff are constrained and are actively looking for ways to streamline processes and make the best of their time…. aren’t we all? With this in mind, I often recommend VMware Data Protection (VDP). I feel this comes up often enough that I should extend the solution to all of you and how I walk through this with my customers.
What is VMware Data Protection?
VMware Data Protection was first introduced in vSphere 5.1. It was a joint solution from VMware and EMC based from EMC’s mature Avamar product. Data Protection is a disk based backup virtual appliance that is imported into vCenter via OVF files (provided on our website) which integrates into your existing virtual environment. There are two version of Data protection: Standard and Advanced. The standard version comes free as a part of all vSphere editions. The Advanced version is licensed per processor which comes with some advanced features that are not contained in the Standard version. You can read more about the differences at this link: Data Protection Edition comparison.
Installing the Appliance
While there are some requirements that need to be met before you can import and deploy the virtual appliance, chances are if you are already running a virtual environment on VMware, you will have most of these (if not all) in place. You can read more about these under the “requirements” section on page 3 (as well as a complete walk through of the install process) in the Data Protection Eval Guide.
The process starts out simply by deploying the OVF files from vCenter. (deploying a VMware OVF file). Make sure you chose your OVF file carefully and plan accordingly. Data Protection Standard comes in 3 preconfigured sizes of .5TB, 1TB and 2TB. Each version has its own OVF file and once deployed you cannot extend the storage. Data Protection Advanced comes preconfigured with 2TB and can be expanded as needed up to 8TB. At first glance you might think these sizes are too small. However, it is important to understand that Data Protection uses both change block tracking along with Variable, Global and Client-Side de-duplication to achieve de-duplication rates from 95% to 99%. Don’t worry, if these sizes are still too small for your environment, you can deploy up to 10 of these Data Protection appliance per vCenter Server.
It’s important to note that only the vCenter Web Client can be used to access the Data Protection appliance. The solution fully integrates into your existing vCenter and can be located on the left hand side under “vSphere Data Protection”. Here you can simply run backups and do restores. The backup process is clean, straight forward and utilizes backups via snapshots of the virtual machine. This provides quick backup times and eliminates overhead from the virtual machine. Even though the backups are based from snapshots, you are still able to get file level restores from these backups. We even take that one step further by providing a way for end users to be able to restore deleted files themselves, without having to engage IT. Because it fully integrates into your existing vSphere environment the product requires no agents for the Standard version and an available agent for the Advanced version which offers agents for Microsoft SQL and Microsoft Exchange to allow for granular recovery options. For a full list of these options in Advanced, please see VMware Data Protection Advanced Data Sheet.
Result – An Easy, Flexible Data Protection Solution
As you can see, vSphere Data Protection offers a flexible solution for anyone’s environment. We make it easy by providing you the files necessary to deploy these solutions in your environment. The deployment processes is easy, straight forward and removes any complications that might come along with other solutions. The licensing model is easy to understand as there is only one option for the Advanced version (per processor). I recommend the Advanced version of VDP bundled into the Enterprise and Enterprise Plus editions of vSphere, and our vSphere with Operations Management. There is little overhead on the virtual machine itself due to the fact that we leverage snapshots for our backups with the ability to restore the entire virtual machine from the snap or recover individual files.
If you are still new to virtualization and have yet to implement virtualization in your environment, please be sure to check out our available versions of vSphere with Operations Manager editions which contain our VDP appliances. I also recommend the following links to my customers. Please be sure to check these out to help you advance your knowledge about our VMware Data Protection solution:
I welcome any comments or feedback.