Storage Soup

Dec 2 2011   10:59AM GMT

Physical, virtual backup still mostly a two-headed beast

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo Profile: Dave Raffo

We received a couple of reminders this week about how important backing up virtual machines is in an organization’s data protection strategy.

First, virtual server backup specialist Veeam released Backup & Replication 6. That in itself wasn’t a huge development. Veeam revealed full details of the product back in August, and said it would be shipping by end of year. It even leaked the most important detail – support of Microsoft Hyper-V – six months ago.

The most interesting part of the launch was the reaction it brought from backup king Symantec. Symantec sent an e-mail reminding that it too does virtual backup (through its X-ray technology) and claimed “point products are complicating data protection.” Symantec released a statement saying “In the backup world, two is not better than one. Using disparate point products to backup virtual and physical environments adds complexity and increases management costs … Organizations should look for solutions that unite virtual and physical environments, as well as integrate deduplication, to achieve the greatest ROI.”

Sean Regan, Symantec’s e-Discovery product marking manager, posted a blog extolling Symantec’s ability to protect virtual machines.

In other words, why bother with products such as Veeam and Quest Software’s v-Ranger for virtual machines when Symantec NetBackup and Backup Exec combine virtual and physical backup? But the established backup vendors opened the door for the point products by ignoring virtual backup for too long. Symantec didn’t really get serious about virtual backup until the last year or so.

Randy Dover, IT officer for Cornerstone Community Bank in Chattanooga, Tenn., began using Quest vRanger for virtual server backup last year although his bank had Symantec’s Backup Exec for physical servers. Dover said he would have had to put agents on his virtual machines with Backup Exec and it would have cost considerable more than adding vRanger.

“Before that, we were not backing up virtual machines as far as VMDK files,” he said. “If something happened to a VM, we would have to rebuild it from scratch. That’s not a good scenario, but basically that’s where we were.”

Dover said vRanger has cut replication time and restores for his 31 virtual machines considerably. And he doesn’t mind doing separate backups for virtual and physical servers.

“Using two different products doesn’t concern us as much,” he said. “We generally look for the best performance option instead of having fewer products to manage.”

Quest took a step towards integrating virtual and physical backup last year when it acquired BakBone, adding BakBone’s NetVault physical backup platform to vRanger.

Walter Angerer, Quest’s general manager of data protection, said the vendor plans to deliver a single management console for virtual and physical backups. He said Quest would integrate BakBone’s NetVault platform with vRanger as much as possible. It has already ported NetVault dedupe onto vRanger and is working on doing the same with NetVault’s continuous data protection (CDP).

“We are looking forward to an integrated solution for for virtual, physical and cloud backup,” Angerer said. “I’m not sure if either one will go away, but we will create a new management layer. The plan is to have a single pane of glass for all of our capabilities.”

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  • SeanJRegan
    [CODE][/CODE]Dave, Interesting post about the VM backup. It looks like toward the end of the article we see another vendor moving in the direction of one backup for all platforms. Long term I see a platform approach succeeding, even in fully virtual environments. Just like physical environments, there will likely be many different hypervisors. The best way forward is one product for any recovery, from any platform. There are a few key aspects of Symantec’s commitment to the VM backup space that I should add to the discussion: 1.) Symantec has been focused on about VM backup since before 2006 when I joined. Since then we have won, or been a finalist in the Best of VMworld awards for Data Protection three times. Simply put, Symantec has won more Best of VMworld awards for Data Protection than any vendor. 2.) Starting at VMworld 2006 we led a session on “Non-disruptive Backup of VMware” and we also sent a large group of our engineers to Los Angeles to start work on support for VCB in NetBackup 6.5 resulting in the 2007 best of VMworld Gold Award for Data Protection. We have presented at every VMworld since then on the power of the VMware API’s for data protection. These are not sponsored sessions but rather technical sessions in concert with VMware. 3.) In 2006 the idea of granular file recovery for virtual machines was largely incomprehensible. In those days no one did this for virtual machines. With the support we developed for VCB in 6.5 we changed that. Our engineers took the unique technology that Symantec and Veritas developed for physical servers related to single file restore and then delivered patented integration so that VM teams could now perform granular file recovery as well. That was the beginning of V-Ray, a philosophy and embedded technology that drives our roadmap and product for VMware and Hyper-V. 4.) Stay tuned for BackupExec 2012, we have added some VMware- and Hyper-V specific technology and pricing and licensing that is sure the make an impact in the space. Today we have close to 2 million organizations using Symantec backup with about 50% of new sales for BackupExec being deployed on virtual machines. In the end, I agree with Walter. In the backup, the only thing that matters is recovery and the best way to do that is a single platform whether physical, virtual, cloud, tape, disk, flash, whatever. Complexity is the enemy of recovery, anything vendors can do to make recovery simpler and easier is good for the industry. Cheers, Sean Regan @seanjregan Symantec
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