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VMware Takes Big Step Up in Virtual Server Backup with VDP Advanced 5.5

VMware recently announced the enhancement of its VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced product at the European edition of VMworld. The features and developments included in the 5.5 release decisively provide a robust backup and recovery package for  SMBs, both on the high and low end, while becoming a viable alternative for enterprises looking to protect remote datacenters and office locations.

Surveys of the VMware customer base have shown that Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery are the highest priorities among nearly half of the respondents they polled. Now with the enhancements in its VDP Advanced 5.5 solution, VMware for the first time has a real answer to these concerns.

Consider this: in 2012 the virtual backup market represented a $1.1B space with a 21% CAGR (Combined Annual Growth Rate.) Notably, SMB backup makes up 40% of that space. Therefore it makes sense that VMware would address any shortfalls in its backup and recovery functionality.

The main 5.5 enhancements of note include deduplication, replication, backup verification, application aware backups, cloud-based backups, EMC integration, and management. VDP Advanced is delivered in the form of a virtual appliance with it now able to effectively protect up to 200 VMs (versus only about 50 VMs in VDP.) More notably, VDP Advanced can now be deployed in conjunction with multiple virtual appliances so that it can realistically protect up to a total of 800 VMs

VDP VDP Advanced.JPGSource: VMware

Tunneling into the details on each one of these enhancements it is apparent that this version goes a long way to addressing end-user concerns from past releases.

  • Backup data replication. Asynchronous replication of backups to a disaster recovery (DR) location in an optimized fashion is new to VDP Advanced. This approach saves network bandwidth and shortens the time to have a VM backup replicated and available at a DR location. Organizations may also independently configure retention periods of the backup at source and destination backup images For example, they may want to keep a local backup for 30 days and retain a DR copy for 60 days.

Replication is performed at the VM level, not at the datastore level, which allows end users to only do DR for the VMs that are the most important to there business. Replicated backup images may also be encrypted if that is a necessity. Replication streams are encrypted and replication topology options include 1:1, 1:M, and M:1 with VDP Advanced  RPOs (Recovery Point Objectives) of 24 hours..

  • Automated backup verification. VDP Advanced provides the ability to schedule, in an automated fashion, a backup verification in a temporary or test area to verify VMs can actually be recovered. This functionality includes post verification reports as well the ability to power-on, boot OS, and restart the application all in an area that will not impact your production landscape.
  • Application aware backups. Although application aware backups are not new to VDP Advanced, this capability has been enhanced greatly. These still require VSS/Application integration, which does involve placing an agent on the VM. However with Exchange VDP Advanced now offers the recovery of individual user mailboxes as well provides support for SQL Server as well as a new agent for SharePoint.
  • Cloud-based backups. Organizations that do not have a DR location or simply want to keep copies of there backup images at a completely separate place can take advantage of its cloud based backup capabilities. Out of the gate VDP Advanced offers two options. They may backup to an Avamar service provider such as Sunguard or to a VDP Advanced replication target at a service provider location. The advantage of this second option is there are no specific hardware requirements for either party involved.
  • EMC Data Domain integration. Many VMware shops have Data Domain deduplicating backup appliances deployed. Using VDP Advanced, they can now take advantage of it DDBoost for Avamar plug-in to further optimize backup to their existing or new Data Domain appliances. This provides the ability to leverage the Data Domain deduplication as well as the basic and advanced replication capabilities built into Data Domain systems.

It’s clear that VMware has stepped up to the table in this release as organizations continue to get not only their virtualized compute resources from VMware while facilitating the ability to backup, recover and replicate those VM’s all without any assistance from a 3rd party virtual backup software provider. The inclusion of these features in VDP Advanced means VMware can effectively compete with other virtualized backup products in this space though VMware specifically has Veeam in its sights.

These advances are so pronounced versus its prior VDP release that it behooves organizations with fewer than 1000 VMs to take a long, hard look at VDP Advanced as a viable replacement to their existing backup software as this latest release may well meet all of their needs. Many will find it does which could contribute to greatly centralizing and simplifying their internal business continuity and disaster recovery processes as organizations may turn to VMware as a one-stop shop for virtualization as well as the backup, recovery and replication of their virtualized environment.

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Tim Anderson

About Tim Anderson

Tim serves as a Senior Analyst HA/Infrastructure for DCIG

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