Comprehensive data protection for all workloads
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johnny@datafant.se
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vSphere 4 : VMware vCenter Data Recovery

Post by johnny@datafant.se »

Hello,

with VMware´s release of vSphere 4, May the 21st, among other features, a backup-recovery solution will be included in the vCenter server similar to Veeam Backup. At least in the Essentials Plus Edition.

Questions:

1) Which features differs between your product and the Data Protection provided by VMware ?
2) Why should we choose VB instead of the built-in backup/recovery ?
3) When will VB for vSphere 4 be released ?

Regards,

Johnny Lundgren

Gostev
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Re: vSphere 4 - Data Protection

Post by Gostev »

Hello Johnny,

We are testing our 3.1 release on vSphere RC right now, and should be able to officially start supporting vSphere days after official release (after performing the final testing on the RTM bits).

First, concerning VMware Data Protection pricing: a la carte Data Protection is more expensive than a la carte Veeam Backup ($869 versus $500 per socket). Data Protection costs $650 plus separate 1 year SnS fee. Veeam Backup costs $500 and this price includes 1 year of maintenance.

Secondly, from technical standpoint and comparing features, you are right - based on their announced features, this offering is quite similar to our first release, Veeam Backup 1.0 (looks like they defined the set of requirements by looking at features of the first version of our product). But we had a long way since then...

We have evaluated Beta2 of VMware Data Protection that was made available couple of weeks ago, and here is what we have found out.

It is definitely a "1.0" release by all means. As typical for early-stage products, it is unlikely that all the features promised in the “vision” of the product will be present and fully functional upon release. Many important capabilities (multiple advanced settings we have added with every new version based on customers' feedback) will only appear in later versions, and it is difficult to predict exactly how long you may have to wait for them. At this time, Beta2 does not have even major announced features implemented (like file level restore). I would not be surprised if it does not make the 1.0 release given the tight timeframe actually! And it is really hard to evaluate functionality that is completely missing. But as you know, same "marketing" feature like file-level restore can be implemented in dramatically different fashion (think 1 minute with Veeam Backup versus 10 hours with vRanger Pro to restore a single word document from 500GB VM).

[UPDATE] Apparently my suspicion about file-level restore functionality was right... even if it makes it into official release, according to latest FAQ it is already defined as experimental in this release, meaning no support if it does not work. Veeam Backup has this functionality since version 1.0, fully supported and very well polished for the past 3 major releases. Nevertheless, still looking forward to give their implementation a technical evaluation once it is finally available.

At a more fundamental level, the product's architecture as a virtual appliance creates several key limitations that cannot be resolved with feature enhancements. These architecture limitations indicate that it is a solution designed only for use by small organizations with very few virtual machines to back up. These include:
1. A heavy load on production ESX due to backup activities. VMware has stated very clearly that VCB is the only proper way to perform backup in enterprise environments because it offloads backup activities from the production ESX servers to backup proxy servers (VMware has many documents explaining why is this so important). Without VCB, production ESX servers load running backup appliances could be very heavy. If you run backups with compression, your CPU will be a bottleneck even on quad core computers. This will have a negative impact on the availability and performance of production VMs.
2. Much slower backup performance. Because the VMware product will run inside a virtual machine, alternative products like Veeam Backup will offer far superior performance. And I know you are aware about performance Veeam Backup 3.0 is capable of pushing out on good nicely configured hardware better than some other community members due to being systems integrator ;)
3. Hard limits of source data size (2TB max) and number of VMs (100 VM max). Veeam Backup also had 2TB limitation before current version, and basically every second customer have been running into this, so this IS a problem. By the way, these limitations were confirmed by VMware devs directly on VMware Partner Exchange last week .

Key operational limitations are:
1. It requires VMware vCenter (so cannot work with standalone hosts).
2. It is a focused VMware-only solution that will never support other hypervisors, P2V backup or other similar features in the Veeam Backup roadmap.
3. Supports only ESX4 (no support for previous ESX versions)
4. No support for Linux backup target (Veeam Backup autostarts agent on target Linux server that both offloads backup processing and enables compressed transfers over network).
5. Maximum of 8 concurrent backups (concurent backups are only possible if CPU usage is below 80%, which also directly proves my points above on implications of running backup applications inside of a VM on production ESX hosts).
6. Templates backup is not supported
7. Snapshots backup is not supported
8. Able to backup to VMFS only (ESX storage). Most customers choose to backup to removable hard drives that can be taken off-site). There's little sense to store backups on the same storage that you are backing up :)

Note that I try to only cover backup part of story, and don't even talk about another half of our product, replication. They don't have anything like that, while with Veeam Backup you get this for free. However, I appreciate the fact that not all customers care about replication, so this will not be the differentiator in some cases, which is why I am not touching this.

At a backup vendor choice level, you should consider the following. As most R&D focused, innovative and nimble company (any need to prove these statements?), we have been releasing major new versions of our backup and replication product twice each year. We are currently on version 3.0, and by the time VMware’s tool is out and fully functional, we will be releasing our 4.0 version. It will be challenging for a larger, more bureaucratic company to catch up with Veeam, and we are very focused on staying ahead to deliver the innovative functionality that best meets our customers needs, both today and in the future. This should be really clear since VMware took the following major features and concepts first brought to virtualization market by Veeam Backup 1.0:
- Syntethic backup (forever-incremental)
- Deduplication on backup file level
- File level restore directly from backup files

Hope this helps!

davidshq
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Re: vSphere 4 - Data Protection

Post by davidshq »

Good answers Gostev...and a good question Johnny - one I had just intended to post until I saw this post. :) I'm sticking with Veeam, and crossing my fingers that replication support for ESXi will be added sooner rather than later.
Dave

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Re: vSphere 4 - Data Protection

Post by Gostev »

Thanks Dave, just wanted to add to my post above that we do plan to perform thorough review of vSphere pricing/bundles, and as a result we may also add some specially priced bundles by the time of official vSphere release, to make Veeam Backup even more attractive choice.

Gostev
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Re: vSphere 4 : VMware vCenter Data Recovery

Post by Gostev »

Added a few more points/bullets to the original post based on latest information.

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