Last week Arkeia Software announced it has improved its backup support for virtual environments, adding additional Hyper-V functionality to its existing protection that spans a wide collection of virtual platforms, operating systems, and applications. The new features support large change block tracking, and enable better performance for Hyper-V-based backups, making it on par with what the company offers for VMware and the ability to perform incremental backups.
This announcement is an example of how the evolving state of the backup world is moving to embrace the virtual one, and as enterprises bring up more VMs in their data centers and in the cloud, we definitely need better and more capable backup tools.
Here are just a few of the different solutions that are out there today:
- Quest Software vRanger v5.2
- Arkeia Network Backup
- Veeam Backup and Replication v5
- Acronis Backup and Recovery v11 Virtual Edition
- Symantec Backup Exec 2010
- PHD Virtual Backup
So how do you go about evaluating which technology best suits your particular circumstances? If you are using a generalized backup product that has deduplication features (and most do, these days), it is worth it to first investigate if they have a VM-oriented version that you can deploy. Failing that, here are some questions to ask:
- What hypervisors do they support specifically, and how exactly do they support them? While all of the products above can backup VMs on VMware's hosts, some will handle Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer and other hypervisors. Akrkeia has a wide array of agents for different VMs, and this table shows you the level of differing support for each virtual environment.
- How do they handle deduplication to cut down on the backup times and the amount of data that is transmitted across the network? Depending on the product, each offers a slightly different configuration of its agents, appliances, local and cloud-based storage. Depending on what you need in terms of recovery time and how your VM infrastructure is configured, this could be a deal-breaker for you. Since many VMs are often mostly duplicates of files for the underlying OS's, the ability to eliminate duplicate files can significantly cut down on the time it takes to backup an entire set of VMs.
- Where does the software install its agents and where do you place its storage appliance on your network? What the vendor intends may not be possible, given your own configuration.
- How difficult is it to recover a single file inside one of your VMs? Get a feel for the management interface and how hard it is to search for a particular file when a user calls in distress.
A good place to start examining best practices can be found with this article on SearchStorageChannel.com