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Unitrends biggest release in product history - Virtual Backup 8.0

Written by Roy Mikes on Saturday, 26 July 2014. Posted in General

Backup today goes beyond just backing up files or virtual machines. A good Disaster Recover Plan often remains out. Many companies think they have a backup and therefore can restore files, so "I'm okay", is the first sentence I hear. Broadly they are right and the most common issues are restoring files and sometimes a virtual machine. Often you still find a mix of different Hypervisors, in a virtual and physical environment.   

Unitrends just announced their biggest Virtual Backup release in product history.  There are over 120 enhancements in Virtual Backup 8.0 that so many of Unitrends 10,000 virtualization-crazed customers helped them build.  Every aspect of the design enhances simplicity, performance, and reliability so all virtualization administrators can focus on what’s really important – delivering innovation and security to their businesses.

It’s impossible to talk about all of the enhancements of Virtual Backup 8.0 in one sitting, so here are the ones I think you’ll love the most:

Performance enhancements.  Get 50-250% better backup performance with improved concurrent processing and scalability across multiple vCPUs.  Archiving is now up to 8X faster depending on your bandwidth.  All with a tiny memory footprint and the best deduplication in the VM backup market with 96% efficiency over time.  That deduplication is even more sophisticated with adjustable block sizes per VM for added efficiency, especially good for moving data across the WAN.

Jobs that manage themselves.  One job for the entire environment is actually possible.  Multiple VBAs now work together with the brains to determine the right one to pick up automatically discovered new VMs in the environment.  VM replication and archiving trigger directly from the end of backup jobs to avoid scheduling overlaps.  Set VM priorities to easily ensure that important VMs are protected first.  Per VM retention and other settings let you set different options within a single job.  In the end, this is truly set-it-and-forget-it job management.  Now, with our hypervisor plugins for the vSphere Client and XenCenter, you can back up your entire environment in just 3 clicks.

One-click interrogation.  A brand new, centralized web interface shows you at-a-glance views of health, performance trends, and risk across multiple virtual environments and across all three major hypervisors.  One-click lets you drill in and see exactly what is protected, unprotected, or having problems. Unitrends advanced reporting helps you detect which VMs are using the most storage and changing the most for better insight into your environment.

Patent-pending Hyper-V backup.  Unitrends approach to Hyper-V backup is unique and patent-pending, leveraging the latest enhancements in Windows Server 2012 / R2 so that VM backup can be performed the way it was intended – using virtualization to protect virtualization.  The benefit of this approach is unparalleled reliability compared to competitors, and Unitrends proprietary changed-block tracking technology makes backup times up to 50X faster.  VM replication and archiving are now available for Hyper-V for local protection and DR in a single solution.

The “little things” make all the difference. Unitrends understand the nuances of virtual environments and how to ensure that things just work.  They have significantly improved reliability for dynamic vSphere environments with duplicate UUIDs.  Easily handle over 1000 VMs with a state-of-the-art UI management architecture.  Recovery and VM replication allow you to select resource pools, clusters, distributed virtual switches, and other target objects to keep you from having to manually do anything after recovery.  You can also quickly recover files from Linux VMs with LVM disks.  In the end, PHD Virtual Backup just works for virtual environments.

Let’s get into details and see if I can prove them right about Virtual Backup 8.0. I installed the OVF and Plugin provided by Unitrends software package. When you first access the appliance the quick setup will help you configure without deep knowledge and the need for an instruction manual. If you do need help, you can chat with their US-based support team right on their website. Once I was setup I was able to start a backup. What immediately struck me was the speed with which a backup was made. The test was done with two VMs simultaneously and does not give a real picture compared to a big production environment. I performed the test for the second time to see the deduplication ratio per VM. The deduplication rate was exactly what you may expect from Unitrends and now even improved. With global deduplication built-in, multi-stage deduplication technology cuts storage to the bone with an average dedupe ratio up to 25:1, typically reducing storage requirements by more than 90%. Unitrends block level verification is reliable data transfer and can detect corrupted data during backup and automatically correct it. While backing up my virtual machines, I was able to set VM priority to ensure business critical VMs are backed up first and define custom retention policies for VMs to store just the backups I needed.

Managing your backup environment with Unitrends backup solution was always an easy thing to do. No complexities from an intuitive to operate “Single Pane of Glass” GUI that provides an overview of protection status, including graphs that display trending data, storage details, jobs in progress, and alerts. Using the hypervisor plugins for the vSphere Client make it easy to backup the entire environment which is in my case two VMs :-). But in the end it doesn't matter, two or two hundred will be backed-up. Job view details include progress down to the task level and VM, disk, and snapshot create and destroy tasks are part of this easy management.

A brand new, centralized web interface shows you at-a-glance views of health, performance trends, and risk across multiple virtual environments. One-click lets you drill in and see exactly what is protected, unprotected, or having problems. Having the visibility at a glance to see that I have several number of VMs which aren’t protected or backed up is often the most important function to most backup-administrators.

Unitrends provides physical, virtual and cloud-based protection and recovery for every organization’s most valuable assets like data and applications. Supported by a “crazy-committed” customer service model based on engagement, experience and excellence, the company consistently achieves a 98 percent customer satisfaction rating and helps everyone play IT safe by delivering the best cost-to-value ratio available anywhere.

The Protect tab in the web UI provides you things such as managing Retention policies, Replication, Archiving and keeping your VMs in sync. Several retention policy settings like recent, days, weeks and so on are available of course. Chains let you assume full backups are scheduled weekly, these settings will keep 3 Full and 18 Incremental backups by default and are adjustable.

I wasn't able to test replication. This is the logical synchronization of backup data from one Unitrends system to another. Replication enables off-site storage (VMs) of mission-critical data to protect against data loss in the event of a huge disaster. The source system is used to protect against loss of files, folders, and individual machines. The target system protects against loss of client data, as well as providing protection against the loss of the entire source system. 

Archiving to an offload tape is possible. You can specify one or more virtual machines to archive on demand or in a schedule by selecting the ESX or Hyper-V node in the Navigation pane. Parallel processing for archiving up to 8 times faster offsite backup archiving depending on your bandwidth.

To install and use Unitrend Virtual Backup v8.0 requirements must be met to the following: 

  • VMware vSphere 5.0 and later
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 or Windows Server 2012 R2 (Standard and DataCenter editions) with the Hyper-V role enabled
  • Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 and Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 (free versions)
  • Citrix XenServer 6.x and later

More details on supported Hypervizors are available here: https://phdtechsupport.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/202545940-Supported-Hypervisors

While I was only able to configure a few functions while testing the product Unitrends says the “little things” make all the difference. When Unitrends acquired PHD you could be sceptical. But so far it's definitely no disappointment. Unitrends Virtual Backup 8 is smooth and seamless and gives you instant visibility into the VMs protection status of your environment. The brand new, centralized web interface is really looking great and definitely improved. Backup and recover a full virtual machine from a given point in time, perform a File Level Recovery as well as Instant Recovery worked fast and seamless. I am also amazed at the amount of documentation such as manuals available. With Virtual Backup 8.0 Unitrends they have shown to be a full-fledged player in this playing field.

 

 

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