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.
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.
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.
- 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).