Virtual Appliance Simplifies VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V Backups

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Posted 2012-06-25 Print this article Print

Unitrends Enterprise Backup offers cross-platform backup of physical and virtual systems without being overly complex while supporting both the VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization systems.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup version 6.3 will be able to back up physical and virtual systems hosted on either VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V infrastructure when it is released June 29. eWEEK Labs tested an early release candidate of Unitrends Enterprise Backup.

There are several other virtual backup appliances on the market; however, none yet run under Microsoft€™s Hyper-V virtualization platform. While virtual appliances from Arkeia, Zmanda and CA ARCserve Backup also prove easy to install, the lack of native support for Hyper-V means you may have to adopt VMware€™s ESX platform to run those products.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup, which will be available starting July 2, is licensed on a per-protected-resource (i.e., per socket/physical server or per-protected-terabyte) basis. Basic pricing is $995 per socket/resource or $5,495 per terabyte. However the company says that for a limited time the first four virtual machines will be free.

The company has extensive experience in the backup appliance realm and sells physical backup appliances as well, which formed the basis for the new product. Unitrends converted its physical appliance software into the virtual realm to create a virtual appliance that is compatible with their standard appliance offerings, yet provides additional flexibility when it comes to deployment. However, the company€™s latest offering is the first to run as a Hyper-V virtual machine, making it a usable backup solution for Microsoft shops that want to leverage their investments in Microsoft technology without being limited to just Microsoft components.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup Up Close 

I tested the release candidate version of Unitrends Enterprise Backup in a Hyper-V environment that also had VMware member ESX servers. As a virtual appliance, Unitrends Enterprise Backup proved easy to install, especially compared with setting up a physical appliance. The product will be available as a downloadable zip file that contains the virtual appliance file. I installed the Unitrends Enterprise Backup by importing the file into a virtual environment and then launching it as a virtual machine.

Once the file was installed, I was able to perform the basic configuration in minutes. The most important part of this was deploying the agents to the systems that will be backed up. Agent deployment was a mostly automated process with little hands-on activity on my part and wizards to guide the rest of the process.

The configuration offers several options, including defining backup sources, archive targets and types of VMs. Once installed, the primary Recovery console is accessed via a browser-based console that offers a variety of menu choices to access the various sections of the product. The initial console screen works like a dashboard, offering critical alert information, the status of systems backed up and to be backed up, and the last seven days of activity.

The management screen is broken out by tabs for status, backup, restore, archive, reports, settings, about and log-out. Clicking on one of those tabs launches the appropriate console, which is populated with submenus and wizards.

It was easy to schedule and execute backup jobs. Several backup options are available, including first-time backups, differential backups, incremental backups, selective and bare-metal backups. Backup choices are guided by selection screens that rely heavily on the €œnext€ button to advance, instead of having to click check boxes, answer wizard questions or provide other ancillary information.

I chose what I wanted to have backed up, scheduled it and then could forget about it. Reports and alerts keep you in the know, so I didn€™t have to check on the status of my backups.

I liked the integrated deduplication capabilities, which can significantly reduce the size of backups, depending upon how many duplicate files are contained in the backup and how aggressive the dedupe is set to. Another cool feature was the archiving function, which allowed me to move backups into archives, easing the transition from tier 1 storage to long-term storage, such as tape, optical or other removable media.

My data restoration jobs ran without a hitch. Unitrends Enterprise Backup offers something akin to a clock: You can select backup points and restore data from a specific point in time, working like a reversed snapshot. All I had to do was select a point in time on the clock and then execute the restoration based on the nearest restore point.

Extensive reporting capabilities round out the product, making it simple to audit backups, create logs, display usage and define locations of data sets.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at

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