Arkeia, Acronis offer virtual server backup to SMBs

Arkeia and Acronis add virtual server backup – Arkeia through a new virtual appliance and Acronis with an upgrade to vmProtect.

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Arkeia Software and Acronis released products today targeted at virtual server backup for small-to-medium businesses (SMBs). Arkeia launched vmOneStep -- a new virtual appliance for VMware -- and Acronis released vmProtect 7, an upgrade to its agentless backup tool that can be deployed as a virtual appliance or directly on a Windows server.

Arkeia vmOneStep is a backup server with integrated backup agents for VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP). Arkeia’s vmOneStep supports vSphere platforms, including vCenter, ESX and ESXi, for image-level backups of virtual machines using VADP. It uses VMware’s Changed Block Tracking (CBT) for fast incremental and differential backups, and point-in-time recoveries of virtual machines.

The vmOneStep is built on the combined technology of the Arkeia Virtual Appliance (AVA), which is a backup server and requires a separate installation of the vStorage agents. Arkeia will continue to offer the AVA to enterprise customers who want the flexibility of having the backup agents decoupled from the virtual appliance.

“In some cases, flexibility adds complexity and complexity is bad,” Arkeia CEO Bill Evans said. “Some customers prefer a simpler deployment and this is where [vmOneStep] comes in. The attraction to virtual appliances is [that] they are easy to deploy.”

Thomas Indelli, a systems administrator at the University of Chicago, is testing Arkeia’s vmOneStep on servers in the school’s physical sciences division. Those servers contain 1.5 TB of storage and several virtual machines (VMs) with 650 GB of capacity. He is considering swapping out Symantec Backup Exec for vmOneStep, which he said is easier to configure because Backup Exec requires separate installation of the operating system and backup agents.

As a virtual appliance, vmOneStep sits on the hypervisor and is integrated with the operating system, application, and hardware description. A traditional backup software application is not pre-installed with the operating system.

“My first impression [of vmOneStep] was just the simplicity of the configuration,” Indelli said. “I was impressed with how easy it was to deploy. I went from having no backup to having a virtual appliance installed and configured in under a half hour.”

Indelli said as soon as a VM is created, it appears in vStorage, and he clicks on the VM that needs to be backed up. With Backup Exec, the process was more manual and only file-level backups and restores could be done. With the vmOneStep, block-level backups can be done on the VMs and with CBT “it really speeds up the performance of the incremental backups,” Indelli said.

The Arkeia virtual appliance also allows Indelli to perform bare metal restores of the VMs with the use of the Arkeia Web interface. “It will restore the VM directly into the vCenter,” said Indelli.

Acronis integrates vmProtect 7 with VMware

Acronis’ vmProtect 7 is now integrated with VMware vCenter for centralized management and includes replication that allows customers to incrementally update a copy of a VM on another host. It also now provides bare metal recovery of the ESXi host, and the ability to recover individual mailboxes, emails or contacts in a Microsoft Exchange server. Acronis’ vmProtect 6 included the ability to recover an entire Microsoft server but not individual items.

Joseph Martin, managing director at Data Mobility Group, said the Arkeia and Acronis products are examples of vendors trying to strengthen their midmarket offerings with features traditionally limited to enterprise products.

“Before vendors used to cut features when they went down market, but the midmarket needs those features, too, probably more so,” Martin said.

He expects more vendors will start to prepackage all of the pieces needed to perform virtual backups. “That is what you will see across the board,” he said. “With the midmarket, they don’t have the resources to play around. They are going to go with what is easiest as possible. Most in the virtual space are trying to combine everything so customers don’t have to figure out how to put all the pieces together.”

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