At VMworld2012 EMC® and VMware® made a joint announcement of a new data protection solution built into vSphere 5.1 called vSphere Data Protection (VDP), based on EMC’s successful Avamar® deduplication solution.
New VDP functionality
EMC has had a number of their engineers working closely with VMware developers over the last couple of years to incorporate Avamar Virtual Edition functionality directly into vSphere 5.1. With this new VDP capability VMs can now enjoy the faster and more efficient deduplication backup services available from EMC Avamar without having to install new software/hardware or leave the VMware vSphere operating environment.
VDP comes as an agentless solution and as such, works out of the box with any VM. Also, VDP implements a virtual Avamar data store using standard VMware storage. VDP comes bundled within vSphere 5.1 and is free of charge for vSphere Essentials-Plus and above.
In contrast, full Avamar provides both agentless image-level backup and guest-level backup with application-specific plugins to provide application consistent backups and more granular restore capabilities. With VDP, non-Windows VMs should be quiesced during backup activity in order to provide crash consistent backups. For Windows VMs, VDP fully supports VADP and as such, is VSS compliant so automatically provides application consistent backups without having to quiesce guests.
Furthermore, VDP is embedded into vSphere vCenter operations console using the new vSphere web client GUI. Once, VDP is enabled, all an operator has to do is to select which VMs to back up, the schedule for the backups, the retention periods, name the backup job and VDP does the rest. For restoration activity, vSphere provides a self-service portal for VDP restores, so end users can get back to work quickly, while relieving the operations staff from performing these tasks.
Moreover, although standard Avamar supports replication services that allow pairs of Avamar Data Stores to be replicated to one another for DR, VDP has no specific replication support. However just like any other VMware data store, replication could be supplied externally by storage systems or other solutions.
Also, VDP customers have an easy path to grow into the full Avamar solution. When doing so, Avamar retains all VDP backups, backup schedules and other configuration information. Of course, with the full Avamar, one may wish to take advantage of guest level backups, replication, more granular restores or any of its other advanced capabilities.
Although Avamar Virtual Edition has been out and available for almost 5 years now, it has only received modest adoption. This was probably expected inasmuch as the virtual edition could never provide the performance of a standalone, purpose built backup appliance solution.
But given this moderate adoption rate, pairing up with VMware to supply a bundled, functionality-limited product, makes a lot of sense. VMware needed integrated data protection for some time now but had only slight success with their prior VDR solution.
Look for more integrated solutions over time as VMware starts plugging some of their other functionality shortcomings with partner help. It wouldn’t surprise me if EMC and its subsidiaries participated in more of these joint solutions over time.
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Silverton Consulting, Inc. is a Storage, Strategy & Systems consulting services company, based in the USA offering products and services to the data storage community.