VMware Data Protection vs. third-party backup applications

Colm Keegan

How does VMware Data Protection compare with third-party backup software products aimed at VM backups?

When VMware came to market a decade ago with its server virtualization technology, it offered little in the way of tools to back up and protect virtual machine (VM) images or the application data residing within hypervisor servers. You might say backup was something of an afterthought for VMware.

The gap in the VMware data protection market produced opportunities for companies that were able to ride the coattails of VMware's market success. By offering backup applications designed from the ground up to protect VM server images and their associated data without impacting the production application workloads running within those VMs, third-party software providers, like Veeam and Quest, were able to gain significant market traction.

VMware's Data Protection is an adequate backup solution for protecting VMware environments, but it is limited, particularly when compared side by side with the above third-party products.

Deployed as a virtual appliance within a VM, Data Protection is an agentless backup solution which encapsulates the VM operating system, application and data as a single system image during the backup process. This single image can then be used to perform full-system VM restorations. Where Data Protection falls short is in its inability to perform simple, file-level recoveries. Essentially, it's an all-or-nothing proposition -- restore the entire machine image or nothing else.

To increase efficiencies and provide a workaround to file based recoveries, the release of Data Protection utilizes a scaled-down version of the EMC Avamar technology to provide source-side data deduplication. When tied in with the Changed Block Tracking (CBT) feature embedded within Data Protection, the combined dedupe and CBT technologies make for a robust backup and recovery solution. However, it is limited to 2 TB and 100 VMs. End users have to upgrade to the full Avamar solution to extend backup protection beyond these limits.

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