Altaro, a small company offering backup solutions targeted towards SMBs and focused primarily on Microsoft Hyper-V Server, just made a step forward and added VMware support.
I had an opportunity to test the beta version of the new VMware backup solution and here are my 5 reasons why I like Altaro solution and business model. I have a long experience with using VMware Data Protection so I pick up those items that I see as real benefits for small installations. I will not only mention technical aspect but also some licencing for those of you who are responsible for keeping the budget.
This post is a tutorial-like flow of information I find interesting to me to focus for the environment I manage, which I captured during the course of playing around with the new version for VMware virtualized environments.
1. Backup technology Reverse Delta
Reverse Delta is Altaro proprietary backup deduplication technology. With Reverse Delta, the latest version of a file is always made available in its entirety and not as a delta file. This means that if you require the latest version of a file, it is possible to access it directly from your backup drive without having to rebuild the file from delta files. The delta files are only used if you want to build a previous version of the file, building one delta file at a time for each version as you travel back in time in the reverse direction (see Fig. 1).
Older versions are restored by first restoring the latest one, than applying the previous delta over in order to rebuild the previous version, and then so on, always going one version further back in time.
2. Flexible architecture
Nowadays appliances are more and more used to simplify delivery and operation of applications. And this comes with a cost: dedicated resources (IP, server name, etc.) are needed. For small and medium size businesses often is not so easy to afford.
Altaro architecture solves exactly this situations and VM Backup uses installable components:
- The main application,
- Remote management tools,
- Hyper-V host agent (for Hyper-V),
- Offsite copy utility (Altaro Backup Server).
The main application contains the code that manages the backup and restores tasks. The install includes also the Altaro Remote Management Console. If you want to manage Altaro VM Backup from a different machine then you must install the Altaro Management Tools. If you want to make use of the off-site backup feature in Altaro Hyper-V Backup then you must install the Altaro Backup Server on a remote machine.
Hence, you can install all components on the same Windows (all versions since 2008 R2 are supported) machine or, depending on your environment complexity, you can separate components. If vCenter Server is using Windows platform, you can install Altaro VM backup on vCenter.
Hardware requirements are very low: 128MB RAM and 1GB Hard Disk space. You need to consider also an additional 75MB for each concurrent backup/restore.
3. Server based licensing
Altaro backup comes in three editions: Standard, Unlimited and a Free Edition. The only difference between the Standard and the Unlimited version is the amount of virtual machines you can back up. Standard edition is limited to 5 virtual machines where the Unlimited edition has no limitation.
The pricing is not calculated per CPU – instead it’s calculated by amount of hosts. If you have 2 servers, each with 2 sockets, you will have to buy 2 licenses. With products licensed based on CPU sockets you would have to buy 4 licenses.
The free version allows you to back up 2 VM’s per host; with some limitations like the restore is not possible on different host, no sandbox restore and no file level restore. But you can backup up for free 10 VMs, hosted on 5 hosts, 2 VMs on each.
4. It works for both Hyper-V and VMware
Yes, you can manage VM backups across all your Hyper-V and/or VMware hosts from a single interface, with the paid version (see Figure 2).
And yes, you will utilize the same backup/restore features:
- Agentless (support for SQL and Exchange requires an agent though)
- Reverse Delta technology
- Restore on File System Level (for Windows VMs only)
- Offsite replication using WAN acceleration to another Altaro backup server (no additional license required)
- “Sandbox” Restore which allows you to either schedule, or manually run test drills to verify the integrity of your backup data
- E-Mail based alerting
With Altaro VM Backup you can save Backups to a local drive or UNC share. You can save to single, multiple locations (swapped) or offsite (WAN) Altaro Backup Server. Backup destinations can be:
- USB External Drives
- eSATA External Drives
- USB Flash Drives
- Fileserver Network Shares using UNC Paths
- NAS devices (Network Attached Storage) using UNC Paths
- PC Internal Hard Drives (recommended only for evaluation purposes)
- RDX Cartridges
5. Easy to install and use
The installation kit (185MB) can be downloaded after a simple registration process (name and valid e-mail address only). It takes a couple of minutes to receive the mail with link to download.
The installation wizard is very straightforward: run, next, accept license agreement terms, next, next, next, finish.
The initial setup is also very easy if you use a quick setup option (see Figure 3):
In Step 1 you add the source: Hyper-V host(s), ESXi host(s) or vCenter (see Figure 4):
Then enter the credentials and test connection (see figure 5):
In step 2 you add the backup destination (see Figure 6):
And finally, in step 3 you add VMs to backup location with drag and drop and perform the initial backup (see Figure 7):
What’s next? Get and enter the license key, create the schedule backup and check the advanced settings.
And when a disaster happens and you need to restore, the backup is there. It is definitely a technical solution to consider if you ask me.
Well, this is it – the flavor important to me, from a short review I’ve conducted. I’m happy to listen to your comments and opinions on backup solutions for ESXi.
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