logo_acronisRecently we where approached by Acronis if we would be interested in having a look at their backup and replication product called vmProtect. vmProtect is suitable for environments that have up to 100 virtual clients in a vSphere virtual infrastructure.

The installation and reviewing is based on vmProtect version 8, in the mean time however Acronis released version 9.

In this article we will have a look at some of the features and the GUI for vmProtect version 8 and I will point out some new features for version 9.

First off let’s have a look at the installation of vmProtect. Starting the installation file offers you three options:

  • Install vmProtect as a Virtual Appliance (linux based) into your existing vSphere infrastructure. At this moment hypervisor support is limited to VMware vSphere 4.0 and later.
  • Install vmProtect on the system you are currently logged on to. Installation can be done on both windows desktops as windows servers.
  • Extract the installation files for usage on a later time or other location (you will get to choose which files (OVF / MSI) and to what location you want to extract the files)

For the review I selected the first option and installed vmProtect as an appliance.

During the installation of the appliance you will need to enter the vCenter or ESX(i) server IP address or DNS name and a user name & password. The next step of the installation will ask for the:

  • Appliance name: You can use a name convention that is used within your own server infrastructure.
  • ESX(i) host: If you choose to use vCenter in the previous step, you can now select the host on which the initial deployment will be executed.
  • Network: Select the portgroup that you want to use.
  • Storage: Select the datastore that you want to use.
  • Enable vCenter integration: This enables the plugin for vCenter and allows you to manage all vmProtect jobs.
  • Automatically start the VA after a host reboot: Allow the appliance to be started automatically after the host reboots

Next you can choose for the appliance to use DHCP or enter manual IP settings. After choosing the IP settings the deployment of the appliance will commence.

When the deployment is finished you can connect to the appliance in several ways:

  • Console of the VA: This will allow you to change settings like appliance name, time zone, IP settings. Also this is the place to add more storage for the appliance to use with the backup & replication jobs. Finally you have the option to power off or reboot the appliance.
  • Web browser: Using the format https://server_name you can access the management console for vmProtect. This allows you to manage and create new jobs for backup, restore and replication actions.
  • vCenter plugin: Offers the same functionality as the web version but then from the vSphere client

The first time that you open the management console you will need to enter the licenses. Licensing is done per CPU that is present within the ESX(i) host. Also on the page you will be offered to create the first backup job.

For the creation of a backup job you only have to select the vm’s that you want to backup, when you want the backup to occur (both one time runs or repeated) and where you want the backup to be located. With additional options you can choose whether to store all backups in one file or separate files, to automatically delete older backups and you can enter a second location for the backups to be stored.

Now I can write down every single process on how to create the jobs, but creating jobs is really easy and straight forward. This isn’t only true for the creation of backup jobs but also for settings up replication and restore jobs. The screenshots below will show some of the management pages that you can expect. The interface is nice and clean and shows exactly what you need to exceed in your current goal.

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So let’s focus on some of the features that are offered by vmProtect:

  • Replication of vm’s.
  • Recovery of a single file for a vm.
  • Single-pass technology adds protection for Microsoft Exchange on granular level.
  • Multiple-destination and staging of backups.
  • Run vm’s directly from backup.
  • vmFlashback decreases recovery time by skipping unchanged blocks.
  • Migrate servers (P2V or V2V) with the use of imaging technology.
  • Backup to Cloud storage.

New features added in vmProtect version 9 are:

  • Centralized Dashboard enables you to manage multiple vmProtect instances from one management console
  • Protection for Microsoft SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory on agranular level.
  • Configuration Restore enables the option to create a backup of vmProtect settings so all you tasks and settings can be restored for vmProtect itself

To me vmProtect seems like a very good candidate to be using in smaller infrastructures. The installation, configuration and management of the appliance are simple, the interface is very clear and seems like a complete backup solution. Drawbacks might be that there is no support for backup to tape, like with Veeam Back-up & Recovery. Also you won’t be able to backup physical servers and servers that are hosted on other hypervisors, like MS Hyper-V. If these drawbacks are no issue for your infrastructure or you can work around them then I would suggest you try out Acronis vmProtect.