Tag Archives: Unitrends

What does VMTurbo, Starwind, Unitrends and the Habs have in common? Friday shorts that’s what!

And another installment of Friday Shorts – a spot for me to share some awesomeness I’ve found on the interwebs, upcoming events and info from some awesome blog sponsors, and just random thoughts around events and news that might not quite fit within the niche of this blog – basically a mashup of my brain!

First up – free passes to VMworld

VMTurboLogoSmVMworld is sneaking up faster than you think!  Have you got your conference pass yet?  If not why not help ease the pain on your company by letting VMTurbo pick up the conference pass for you?  Along with ensuring performance and maximizing efficiency in your data center the folks at VMTurbo are doing their best put a full VMworld US conference pass in the hands of three people – you can sign up here and the drawings for the three passes take place on May 29th, June 19th, and July 10th!  Good luck!

More freebies from Unitrends

unitrendsSo VMTurbo has you covered for the conference pass how’s about getting a little money to help cover the travel costs from Unitrends (trust me you will need it – the prices of hotels are crazy this year in San Fran).  Just this week Unitrends released Unitrends Free – a completely free, full featured backup solution for up to 1TB of data – I reviewed it here if you missed it!  Anyways, asides from putting a completely free backup product into your lab or data center Unitrends has a gig going right now where you can win a $1500 Visa Giftcard, just for downloading and registering FREE software.  You have till the end of June on this one so best get signed up!

Upcoming Starwind webinar

starwind_softwareStarwind Software, a long time mwpreston.net sponsor and creator of Starwind Virtual SAN have a webinar coming up on May 20 titled Snapshots vs Replication – chosing the right data protection strategy, presented by Chris Evans. If your interested I definitely recommend checking it out as making the choice between snapshots and replication and/or both are key in developing a fool proof data protection strategy!  Also, if you haven’t checked out Starwind Virtual SAN I would take a look at it as well.  I’ve used their free version in the lab numerous times for different projects!

EMC virtual VNX

EMC-LogoConference season is among us and with that comes a slew of releases and announcements.  One that caught my attention coming out of EMCworld was the release of a community edition of the VNXe software.  Shipped as an OVA you can simply load it into your environment and get the functionality and software stack of a VNXe, but without the dedicated storage hardware and controllers.  I love messing around with all different types of storage and VSA’s in the lab so I’ll for sure be looking at this a little closer!

Au reviour les habitants

priceAnd last but not least, and certainly the saddest news of the week is the second round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs for my beloved habs!  Honestly the bleu, blanc, et rouge had a great season, picking up 110 points and finishing 2nd overall in the eastern conference.  Their goalie, Carey Price had a career year – picking up nominations for both the Hart (League MVP) and Vezina (Best Goalie), and more than likely will take both these trophies home this summer.  That said expectations around hockey in Montreal are high and a second round exit overshadows all the success that they had!  Anyways we know Carey probably doesn’t care about those two trophies and is now out of the running for the only one he wanted.  All that said the Habs have a great core, and they are young – so hopefully we see improvements for years to come – they will need to pick up another top 6 forward though if they want to go anywhere in the post season!  At the end, they are now on the links and hopefully that means a little more time for me to work on this blog 🙂  Au revoir! Ole!

Unitrends Free equals Free Unitrends!

Recently Unitrends have released a free product cleverly titled Unitrends Free.  The product, which is unlimited in terms of VMs, sockets, scheduling will allow members of the Unitrends community to protect 1TB of VMs absolutely free, forever!  I had the chance to get on the beta for this product and loved every bit of it.  It’s a great product with a beautiful UI – and given the price (FREE) I would certainly recommend you give Unitrends Free a shot to see if you have a place for it.

Installation

Installation of Unitrends Free is a breeze – after meeting a couple of requirements in terms of .net 3.5 and 4.0 configurations you simply point the installer to either and ESXi host or vCenter server within your environment – from there you specify desired storage locations and IP information for your Unitrends appliance.  You can also chose to size your backup storage at this point – allowing you to add a disk to the appliance.

Installations storage

From there the magic of automation takes over as your Unitrends Free appliance ovf is deployed, powered on, network configured, virtual disk for backup storage is added and finally a browser is opened putting you directly into a configuration wizard where items such as NTP, SMTP, hostname, and root passwords are setup.

installwizard

Once completed we move directly into the newly redesigned Unitrends Free user interface.

Speaking of UI

Wow!  They say that first impressions count and this one really did with me.  I love the design and intuitiveness of this user interface.  It’s very clean, lots of whitespace, and very very easy to use.  The default dashboard makes it easy to see all the important aspects about  the health of your backup environment; the performance and speed, the unprotected VMs, any active jobs as well as the status and capacity of your storage.  To top that if you are a member of the Unitrends Community forum you can see to the top posts here as well (which is where support for the product is provided BTW).  All of this, on one single section of the UI.

UnitrendsUI[1]

Getting up and running

addvCenter[4]Pretty is definitely a selling factor but functionality is key  There are only a few things you need to do to get running with UF.  First, we simply need to add our vCenter server or ESXi host as what Unitrends calls a ‘Protected Asset’.  This is done on the ‘Protected Assets’ tab inside of the ‘Configure’ section by clicking ‘Add’.  From there enter in the standard fqdn/ip and authentication information for vCenter and save.

Now that we have configured our vCenter we can begin the process of setting up a backup job.  Clicking ‘Create Job’ from the ‘Jobs’ section will get us there.  The backup job creation is very intuitive; first selecting which VMs we want inside the job from the tree view and then defining a few job settings revolving around scheduling and backup verification.

createjob1[1] createjob2[1]

Your backup job status can be monitored  through the ‘Active Jobs’ tab in the “Jobs’ section of the UI, however to get a very clean quick overview of our complete environment we can head to the ‘Protect’ section – As shown below we can see that we have a successful backup for the OnIceEntertaintment VM on Thursday but we have yet to process a backup of the Scoreboard VM.  A very nice overview of just how protected our environment is.  And, if we desired, we could simply select our VM from this view, click ‘Backup’ and create a job directly from here as well.

protectionoverview

Unitrends Free also offers deduplication and compression as it pertains to storing your backed up VMs.  I can tell you that the OnIceEntertainment VM was just over 2GB in size, and when Unitrends was all said and done with it the amount of data laid down during the first full backup to the storage, after deduplication and compression, was just under 1GB – a 50% reduction – not bad.  An incremental backup after laying down another 1GB file to the VM resulted in another 200MB of space being utilized – not too shabby : 0.  The first full backup of my VM took a mere 2.5 minutes, with the incremental taking only 1.5 minutes.  Even though it is a small VM these are still pretty impressive performance statistics.

Backups are processed in what Unitrends calls an Incremental Forever strategy – meaning we have an initial full backup followed by daily incremental backups.  The appliance will automatically create synthetic full backups from the existing incremental backups in order to ensure very quick restores in the event you need them.

incrementalforever

Recovery

RecoverOptions Let’s face it – we can backup to our hearts delight but when push comes to shove it’s the recovery that we really need to be top notch!  Unitrends Free provides three different recovery options as it pertains to your virtual machines; recovering the entire VM, individual file level recovery, and instant recovery.

Recovering the entire VM is pretty self explanatory – you simply select your restore point, provide the location in which you want to restore to and Unitrends will restore a complete duplicate of your VM.  In my testing, the 3GB OnIceEntertainment VM was restored in only 3.5 minutes.

That said, if you can’t wait the 3.5 minutes Unitrends also provides the instant recovery option.  Instant Recovery reserves a portion of your appliance backup storage for use as an NFS datastore which gets mounted directly to your hosts.  From there, VMs are recovered and powered on within vSphere utilizing the actual backup files stored on the Unitrends appliance.  What this does is provide a super fast way to recover your VMs – mine was up and responding to pings within 2 minutes.  From there the VM is relocated to a datastore (utilizing Storage vMotion) of your choosing during the restore wizard.  Instant Recovery is a great way to get VMs up and running quickly, while ensuring that they eventually get moved back to a production datastore.  Instant Recovery also provides an “Audit Mode” which allows us to simply ensure that the backup itself is indeed restorable.  When/if you wish to end your Instant Recovery job you can do so by clicking ‘Tear Down’ from the Instant Recovery tab.

instant recovery

If you aren’t looking for a complete VM restore and just need a simple file that may have been deleted off of your VM then the File Level Recovery option is the way to go.  The FLR does not actually perform an restoration of files to your VMs, but provides accessibility to your desired restore point utilizing either a CIFS or iSCSI connection to your Unitrends appliance.  The intention is that you and/or the app owner would simply connect to either the CIFS share or iSCSI target and perform the actual copying of data back to your VM or other desired location manually.  This is basically an Instant Recovery with no visibility into the VM from vSphere and only internal network access into the recovered VM from the Unitrends appliance.  Once the files have been recovered the backups are then un-mounted from the Unitrends appliance by clicking ‘Remove’

flr

Is it worth the price?

Given that the product is FREE, yes FREE I would definitely say so.  It does a lot of things well, backup, restore, reporting, etc.… and it has one of the nicest user interfaces that I’ve seen – it’s clean, easy to use, and very intuitive.  Not once did I have to ready any manuals and/or forums to perform any of the backups or restores.  Not that they don’t exist because they do – support also exists for the product as well.  Unitrends Free is designed bo be a product for the community and keeping true to the community philosophy this is offered through the Unitrends Free Community forums as well as through a multitude of knowledge base articles.  Although I only tested with vSphere the product does support Hyper-V as well, which is also FREE!    The product is unlimited in terms of the number of VMs, sockets, retention and scheduling – this is all included in the free edition.  You will be limited however to 1TB of protected capacity.

Honestly I think this is a great product and I like the way that Unitrends are marketing this as a “community” product.  As always I encourage you to go ahead and check it out for yourself  and let me know what you think – you can’t go wrong being that the price is free.

Note: I was given compensation from Unitrends in exchange for getting on their beta, checking out Unitrends Free and posting my thoughts around it!  Key here is that they are my thoughts – Unitrends in no way told me what to say or how to say it!

Unitrends Virtual Backup 8 and me! A review!

When Unitrends acquired PHD Virtual back in 2013 the question lingering on everyone’s mind was will and how the two backup vendors would merge into a single product.  For over 20 years Unitrends has had a play in the backup space with their series of hardware appliances and more recently has made a play into the virtual space with Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  PHD Virtual, who showed up on the scene in 2006 with a mission to help enterprises protect their virtual environments have been innovating ever since with their flagship PHD Virtual Backup software.  Fast forward to today and we can now see the fruitions of the acquisition with the release of Unitrends Virtual Backup 8.0

Disclaimer – This review was sponsored by Unitrends/PHD and I have recieved compensation (A guys gotta get to VMworld right 🙂 ) – That said, all of the words are my own – if you have any doubts I suggest you head over to Unitrends.com and grab a copy for yourself and check it out!  If you have any questions – feel free to reach out!

You will notice during this review that I don’t necessarily provide a lot of “how to” type scenarios – and that is mostly due to the fact that UVB is so simple to get installed, configured and running.  I’ll simply touch on a bunch of the features that I thought helped UVB stand out against some of their competitors.

On with the installation

It’s on OVF – simply import it and power it on!  At this point you are done!  It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Configuration

Although not quite as simple as the installation the configuration is still a matter of 5 clicks. UVB is broken down into three main roles; Engine, Management and Presentation.  The Engine is the workhorse of UVB that performs all of the backup and recovering processes.  The Management role contains the functions necessary to manage a single environment, meaning a single vCenter or Hyper-V instance – whereas the Presentation role delivers a single master view of all of your management and engine roles.

2 - DeploymentScenario

Deployment Scenarios

For my purposes and my lab I simply decided to configure all three roles on a single instance of UVB.  The configuration first starts with asking whether this is your first instance of UVB or whether you are looking to scale an existing instance.  Then, as shown we can see how we can quickly setup UVB by selecting a deployment scenario based on the size and scale of our environments.  From there it’s a matter of setting up the roles (Management, Engine, Presentation) by providing credentials to your vCenter as well as some backup storage.   From the time that I deployed the OVF to the time I began my first backup was under 10 minutes.

All new interface

The first thing I noticed after logging into UVB is the dashboard.  The UI has been completely redesigned and is very simple to navigate through.  As you can see below, the UI has been dramatically improved to give you a ton of information organized into 6 main sections; Dashboard, Protect, Recover, Jobs, Reports and Configure.

PHD-02-Dashboard

Everything you need to know on one screen!

The initial dashboard provides you with an at a glance view on what is going on inside your backup environment as well as what parts of your infrastructure are protected or unprotected.  I really love the dashboard for a couple of reasons.  1 – I don’t have a lot of time so it’s nice to see an overview of my backup infrastructure in one place, including all running jobs and replication/restore status.  2 – These days environments are very dynamic, with VMs being deployed and destroyed all the time.  Having the visibility at a glance to see that I have X number of VMs which aren’t protected or backed up is crucial to me, especially with many different administrators doing things many different ways.

Protection

Let’s face it!  We can have an easy installation, a breeze of a configuration and the most intuitive UI but when it really comes down to it we need a backup solution that can protect and recover our VMs – and UVB does just  that!

Creating a job is very easy and can be done in a couple of ways.  You can either browse through your inventory on the ‘Protect’ tab, or create the job from scratch on the ‘Jobs’ tab.  Both ways are incredibly easy, so I’m not going to go into detail on how to create a job, but will touch on a few of the details and features that really stuck out in my mind.

Backup

The first backup-related item that really impressed me about UVB was speed – and not just how fast it could backup my VMs (which was lightening quick) but how fast I could go from having nothing configured to backing up my entire environment.  I counted – it took me four clicks to have a job setup to protect my entire environment.

Aside from speed and ease of use, the granularity that UVB provides was another item that stood out.  Utilizing the ‘Protect’ tab in the UI you are able to define things such as retention, compression, and even backup block size on a per-VM basis, not on a job based basis.  Say for example you had 10 VMs –  5 requiring 10 restore points, 3 requiring 20 restore points and 2 requiring only 2 restore points you are able to do so inside of UVB, all while backing up these VMs from within the same job definition.  Also, you could have one VM use a different level of compression than the others or even define priorities on a Low, Medium, High scale to determine which VMs from within the job are going to backup first.

Per VM Retention, Compression & Priority

Per VM Retention, Compression & Priority

Pinned backups will not be removed by retention policies.

Pinned backups will not be removed by retention policies.

Another useful feature of UVB 8 is the ability to pin backups.  By pinning a backup, or more specifically a restore point within a backup you can guarantee that retention policies and processes will ignore that specific restore point, thus keeping it intact until it is unpinned.  This to me seems like a small, but a very important feature as there are many times where I would like to keep a backup a bit longer than what my retention policy dictates – after major upgrades or changes for example.  All while maintaining the deduplication and compression that has been applied to the backups.

Replication

So with our backups out of the way let’s move on to replication.  The way UVB handles replication differs a bit from some of the other players in the backup space – and in a good way.  UVB will actually create and deploy your replica’s from your already existing backup files.  Therefore, there you only need to touch your production VMs once during your backup cycle and you are able to perform both backup and replication.  This is huge as we all know snapshotting a VM can impact performance, let alone take time and resources away from our production environment – why not use the backups we already have!

Another great feature included with UVB and replication is around change.  If a new disk or new network card is added to the source VM, UVB will automatically update the replica during the next scheduled job run so you can be sure that your replica’s are exact copies of your production VMs.  When or if you ever need to use them, the last thing you need is a missing disk.

Replica's are updated when new disks/nics are added to the source VM

Replica’s are updated when new disks/nics are added to the source VM

Recovery

Let’s face it – we can backup and replicate to our hearts delight but the fact is if we can’t recover from a failure our backup solution itself has failed.  UVB tends to take this to heart as they provide a number of ways to recover aside from your standard full VM restore.  For instance, if we are only dealing with a partial failure and need to recover a single file or even a single Exchange or SharePoint item, UVB can do that.  If the failure is a little more immediate you could consider failing over to a replica.  If you haven’t enabled replication for that specific VM don’t worry, using Instant Recovery UVB is able to power on and run your VM directly from the backup file.

Aside from the many restore capabilities UVB also provides that “piece of mind” when disaster strikes that your backups and replicas are truly restorable.  Utilizing a functionality called Reliable DR, both PHD (now UVB) and Unitrends appliances can automate, and orchestrate both the live failover as well as test failovers in order to ensure that their backed up and replicated VMs are truly restorable in the event of a disaster.  You will notice I mentioned both PHD and Unitrends – this is where a lot of the IP of the two companies has came together.  Reliable DR not only supports the testing of VMs from the UVB (PHD) virtual appliances, but fully supports all of the Unitrends physical appliances as well.  In essence, Reliable DR can power on your backups at a secondary location, hosting them in an isolated network and perform various task to ensure that the VMs have been replicated properly.  You can either use the built in tests that come with Reliable DR, or add your own custom scripts to be executed against the VMs.  As with most of what I have talked about in this review, this is very easy and fast to setup.

Conclusion

When Unitrends aquired PHD I wasn’t sure what to expect – but UVB has certainly not disappointed.  There is still some previous functionality that PHD had, such as CloudHook (Backing up to the cloud) , PHD Exporter (Being able to export backups to an OVF) and support for the vSphere Web Client that haven’t quite made their way into UVB yet, but these are not necessities and have been slated to be “baked” in at a later date.  That said it should be noted that most any of the wizards inside of the application can be launched utilizing a plugin for the c# client.  The ease of use and granularity that UVB provides is key to this release.  It seems as if Unitrends and PHD have really focused on the “little things” in this release – and honestly, when we see how far a lot of backup vendors have gone in the virtualization space, it’s going to be these “little things” that really help set you apart from the rest.  If you are looking for an enterprise backup solution for your environment, I would definitely recommend having a long look at UVB.  They most definitely have a lot to bring to the table.

Get your hands on a free Unitrends NFR lisense – and some top notch community knowledge to boot

unitrendsI’ve just been informed that Unitrends, one of the great sponsors of this blog will be hosting a webinar with none other than the great Eric Siebert!  You know, the vExpert, Author, Blogger – oh and the guy behind the coveted vSphere-Land Top Virtualization Blogs – yah, him!

Eric and Unitrends will be going over how you can utilize blogging tech experts and peers writing from the IT trenches as well as the following points…

  • How the virtualization blogger community has evolved
  • Why you should pay attention to what bloggers are saying
  • Top virtualization blogs to watch in 2013

This is certainly one that I don’t want to miss!  It’s always great to hear Eric speak about the state of the blogosphere!  He certainly has been through mostly all of the blogs out there during his yearly vote!  So, if you have nothing to do on April 18th around lunchtime (12PM EST) why not go and sign up to watch this – landing page is here.

Oh, did I mention that Unitrends is giving EVERY attendee a free NFR license of their Unitrends Enterprise Backup – not too shabby for just showing up.  Also, one of the lucky attendees could get their hands on a $200 ThinkGeek.com giftcard!

See yah there 🙂

Another #homelab giveaway – This time from Unitrends

Wow!  Lots of New Years and Xmas giveaways happening within the virtualization community this year…and we aren’t talking about books or USB keys this year.  This year we are dealing with complete home labs   So fancy yourself a couple of HP Proliant Servers, a Netgear Ready NAS system, an HP switch and some MS and VMware licenses …well, go and download the latest offering from Unitrends, Unitrends Enterprise Backup and register your software before February 14th to be automatically included in their Dream Home Lab Giveaway.  And don’t worry, you don’t need to purchase the software to register, you can register the free version and still qualify.

Unitrends Enterprise Backup – In the lab!!!

Unitrends has been inside the backup industry for over 20 years!  That’s a long time to be a key player inside of one industry.  How do they do it?  By staying on top of the ever so changing nature of backup.  That’s why I decided to do this sponsored review of Unitrends latest offering, Unitrends Enterprise Backup.   Again, this review is sponsored but it most certainly contains my words and thoughts about the product.  Now that that’s been cleared up let me say that they make it pretty easy for you evaluate the product yourself.  Personally I went and grabbed a free NFR license that they offer to all Microsoft and VMware certificate holders.  Even if you simply belong to a VMUG you can get yourself an NFR license.  While the Unitrends Enterprise Backups deployment route requires Hyper-V or VMware, the appliance itself can backup and protect both your physical and virtual environment, but for the purpose of this review I only tested on a virtual infrastructure.

Installation

This couldn’t have been easier!!!  Unitrends has taken the virtual appliance route when it comes to installation, meaning a simple File->Deploy OVF Template and following a quick step wizard is all you really need to do to get Unitrends into your environment.  This honestly took around 10 minutes from start to finish to deploy into my environment.   Just be sure you meet the minimum system requirements (100GB free space, 2 CPUs, 4GB RAM) and deploy the appliance.  There is one single appliance to deploy whether you plan on using the free, trial, NFR, or complete enterprise solution.

Configuration

Once the appliance has been deployed into your environment it’s now time to get it configured and ready to go.  Like most virtual appliances you must first configure IP and DNS settings inside of the VM console.  Unitrends provides a nifty little console menu to simplify this operation.  Once you have an IP configured the rest of the configuration can be done through the web interface by opening up a browser and pointing to the IP of your Unitrends appliance.  Upon the first login to the appliance Unitrends displays a setup wizard which takes you through most all of the steps that you need to configure to get up and running.  The steps of this process are outlined below

  • Accept EULA
  • Set Date/Time Parameters
  • Configure Hostname
  • Configure SMTP server
  • Change default console authentication (root password)
  • Add any additional administrative users to the system
  • Select an installation type – Just a note here you will have the option to either install as a local backup system or as a vault.  The difference being that vault actually acts as a replication target for a local backup system, giving you the ability to replicate your locally backed up files to another Unitrends installation in an offsite location.
  • Add additional storage to the Unitrends system.  If you left all of the defaults when deploying the defaults you should have roughly 80GB of storage to use as a backup target, here you can add additional storage to the appliance.
  • Install any required agents – If you are solely using this product to backup VMware VMs (or strictly current Windows OSes or Hyper-V) then this step can be skipped, however if you plan to backup any Linux or Mac OS based PHYSICAL systems then you have the option to deploy the agents needed at this time.  As with most settings you can always do this later as well – I skipped this for the time being.
  • Add Client – In Unitrends terms a client is a server/computer that you want to protect.  For the sake of protecting a VMware environment a client will be either your vCenter Server or ESXi host.  Here is where I added my vCenter Server by providing the DNS name as well as credentials then clicking ‘Setup’.  (Shown below)
  • Deduplication Options – You have the option here to disable the Unitrends software deduplication if you happen to be using a deduplication appliance or have deduplication enabled on your underlying storage array.

Honestly at this point you have all the configuration you need to start protecting your virtual environment with Unitrends.  Obviously there are a ton more settings and tweaks you can set in the Settings section of the application but I will concentrate more on the core functionality of the product rather than dive into each and every configuration setting.  Unitrends lays this functionality out in their top navigational menu, thus the rest of this review will follow the same structure.

Status

The status section is there to do just what you would think, display the past, present, and future status of your backup system.  Not a whole lot to say about this section other than there are some really nice visualizations that let you see your future schedule for backups as well as the outcomes from previous backups.

Backup

Ok, here we go now into the meat and potatoes of this product; its’ ability to backup your virtual infrastructure.  First off you will see a couple of tabs along the top after selecting Backup; 1-Time Backup and Schedule Backup.  As you may have guessed one option performs a 1-time backup and the other allows you to assign a schedule.  For the purposes of this review I will only go over the scheduled backup option.
The first step is to setup a schedule or modify an existing one.  In my case I called this RPO 6 hours and set the Incremental Forever options to occur every 6 hours (brilliant eh? 🙂 )  Since I have selected my vCenter Server from the navigational menu i can see a list of potential VMs to protect in the list box to the left.  This list is dependent and will change based on the item you select in the navigational menu, meaning if it was an Exchange server you may see storage groups or databases, SQL you would see databases, etc…  Again in our case we are dealing solely with VMware so I see a list of VMs.  One cool and useful feature is the ‘Auto Include New VMs’ option.  This allows you to automatically include new VMs into a specified schedule as they are created and registered with vCenter without physically configuring the Unitrends appliance.  A very cool feature to be able to protect those VMs that tend to just show up in your environment.
The Schedule column on the right hand side of the screen is where you define how and when you want your backups to occur.  You will see here options around the minimum and maximum number of days to retain your backups as well as the backup strategy you wish to deploy.  This strategy could be one of the following….
  • Incremental Forever – This strategy essentially performs a full backup on the target and then subsequently performs incremental backups from then on.  Periodically (I think once every two weeks) the original full backup is synchronized and brought up to date using the  incremental backups locally and differentials are generated for the retention points leading up to this.  A great strategy to obtain a near continuous data protection strategy and speed up the time it takes to backup a virtual machine.
  • Full with Incrementals – Basically the same as Incremental Forever however giving you the ability to specify when the full backup occurs (hourly, daily, weekly, monthly).  I believe in this option the full backups are performed on your production environment and not generated from incrementals.
  • Full with Differentials – This would be somewhat the reverse of Full with Incrementals meaning you will always have an up to date full backup, with differential files as your restore points.
  • Custom – you guessed it, play with it and tailor it to how you want it to be.

And guess what?  You’re done!  Depending on the configuration you’ve specified your backups and retention policies should kick off immediately and start protecting your VMs.  The process of creating a backup job or schedule inside of Unitrends is very very simple.  What I like most about this process is how it is laid out in the web interface.  With the exception of advanced settings (SMTP and storage) all of the configuration and setup is done on one simple screen (See below).

Restore

So far we have installed, setup, and configured some backups jobs with Unitrends.  Now is the time to put it to the test and do perhaps the most important function that backup solutions provide; the ability to restore.  Unitrends offers a couple type of restores within their product; Restore a computer or Restore a system.  Now these terms sound like they do essentially the same thing but they most certainly do not.  Your most common type of operation and traditional restore is handled through restore a computer.  This will restore a VM from your local backup instance.  The ‘Restore a System’ is actually a DR operation that will restore your system from either an archive or a replicated (vaulted) instance.  I’ve mentioned the vault options earlier in this review and due to limited resources I can’t efficiently test this so for the case of this section I’ll walk through restoring a single VM from Unitrends.
First off if you select your vCenter in the navigation menu while in the restore section you should be presented with a nifty little screen.  What I like most about this is it is very easy to select your targeted restore time through either the visualizations provided or the Recovery Point Times table.  You then have a couple of options on how to restore.
Firstly is the ‘Next (Select Options)’ button.  This is the route to take if your desire is to restore a complete VM.  Once moving into the next screen you simply need to select a desired host and datastore, give your restored VM a name and you are off to the races.  Another noteable and huge feature is Instant Recovery.  This is the ability to publish the backup files directly to an ESX host and run your VM directly from the backup files themselves.  An awesome feature that you may need to use if access is needed immediately.
The second option, ‘Restore Selected Files’  allows you to perform a file level restore.  In order to first do this you must click the ‘Create’ button in order to create an image to restore from.  After this process is complete a network path will be displayed allowing you to connect by a couple of different methods.  Through Windows you could simply browse or map to the selected path.  Unitrends will also prevent this image as an iSCSI target allowing your end users to connect and restore any files they wish to an location they wish.  Once completed be sure to click the ‘Tear Down’ button in order to unmount the image.

Archive

So now we are on to the Archive capabilities of Unitrends.  In order to use the archive features you need to have archive storage attached to your appliance.  I facilitated this by adding a second disk to the VM and configuring it under the Storage and Retention settings however it appears you can also use a NAS or iSCSI type solution as well.  So basically the archive capabilities allow you to take either all or portions of your local backups or local appliance directories and setup different retention schedules on them in order to preserve certain recovery points in a different location.
Again like most configuration that is done within Unitrends all of it is on one screen.  You can see from the screen shot that all that needs to be done is selecting what to archive, the type of backups (a lot of options in here), your archive target and some simple options on whether to compress and encrypt your archived data.  You also have the ability to test your archive settings before submitting the archive job in order to ensure you have enough space remaining on your targets.  Archives can be run both on demand as well as scheduled.  There targets can consist of attached vmdks, iSCSI targets, NAS devices as well as tape drives.

Reports

Although fairly self explanatory I wanted to touch on this section as I found it to be one of the real shining points around Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  As you can see in the screenshot below Unitrends has a ton of predefined reports that you can generate and view dealing with everything from the outcomes of your backup jobs to your deduplication savings to storage utilization to inidividual reports dealing with applications such as SQL server.

Conclusion

So there you have it!  That in a nutshell is Unitrends Enterprise Backup.  I can’t say that I have really truly done this application justice as there are a lot of features that I didn’t get a chance to test.  Outside of this review Unitrends contains many features such as not only backing up your virtual infrastructure but your physical presence as well all from one interface.  They have solutions for full application item recovery such as Exchange mailboxes and SQL databases and tables.  Unitrends has a very solid, scaleable, easy to use system.  One of the biggest high points for me is just the ease of use.  Having most all of the configuration options for setting up backup jobs on one screen is a great feature allowing administrators to see the full scope of options and settings all at once.  Another awesome thing about Unitrends is the free edition.  Although limited to 4 VMs you get a fully functional product – no catch!  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourself.   Go grab a fully functional trial at Unitrends.com.

A little bit about my latest sponsor – Unitrends

So as you may have noticed Unitrends now has a little spot on the right hand side of my blog and I’m excited to have them there.  The thing that surprises me most about Unitrends is the shear amount of time they have been around – 20 years – that’s amazing.  Starting out by providing backup capabilities for Unix systems, then branching into Windows and finally now offering an application to protect both your physical and virtual applications I think you can safely say that they have ‘seen it all’ when it comes to backup.

So in terms of what readers of this blog might care about is their support now for both VMware and Hyper-V.   Unitrends comes in a virtual appliance format and is called Unitrends Enterprise Backup – a little bit more info about the product below…

  • Ability to protect both physical and virtual environments – very cool to have an ‘all in one’ solution.
  • Provides Instant Recover – Lower RTO’s by booting the VMs directly from the files they have been backed up to.
  • Archive capabilities – take those important time sensitive  frequently audited applications and be sure you have complied to all company policies by pealing off to SAN, NAS, tape or disk.
  • Flexible Deployment Options – Although I mentioned a virtual appliance above you do have ability to install a physical backup appliance as well for those who wish to keep their backup environments separated.
  • Provides File Level, Block Level and Application Level protection.
  • RDM support with an agent installed on guest.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this product and expect some more content once I get it in the lab to try out.  But for now let me leave you with this.  Like most companies Unitrends offers trail versions of their software for 30 days with the ability to simply apply a license into the Enterprise version, however the difference here is that they also offer a FREE edition.  Now this free edition isn’t chopped down either, It’s a fully functional, online supported backup appliance.  You are limited to only 4 VMs but mostly all functionality is included within the free edition.   A nice fit for those ROBO installs with a couple of VMs running.  So get on over to Unitrends site now and have a look for yourself, get the trial, get the free edition, try it out and let me know what you think.  Also for those VCP’s/vExperts out there they have NFR licenses available!