What is VMware’s vSphere 5.1 VDP Backup Solution?

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There has been an exciting number of announcements at the VMworld 2012 San Francisco conference with there being particular emphasis on VMware’s vision of the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC), which defines the next generation of more cost-effective and efficient Cloud Computing environments. One such VMware vSphere 5.1 feature that plays into the SDDC message with it’s tight vSphere integration is vSphere Data Protection, or VDP.

Below: vSphere Data Protection (VDP) has tight integration with the vSphere Web Client

VMware VDP - EMC Avamar Technology

VDP is new a new data protection feature released with vSphere 5.1, it provides virtualization administrators with the ability to effectively orchestrate and manage their VM and file level backups and recovery all from within the vSphere Web Client. This seamless integration with the vSphere Web Client negates the need to swap between utilities or management interfaces to configure, perform and check vSphere backups, which over the course of a week can save an administrator a significant amount of time.  Another plus-point to note about VDP is that it is provided at no extra cost and is bundled in with vSphere 5.1.

Below: Backup and Restore information is clearly displayed all from within the vSphere Web Client

VMware VDP and EMC Avamar

Under the hood VDP uses many EMC Avamar backup technologies providing VDP with some its more powerful capabilities, such as variable length deduplication and Changed Block Tracking (CBT) during restores. By utilising variable length deduplication, as opposed to the fixed block deduplication previously used by VMware, backups are more efficient, with less backup data having to be stored and transferred between the physical ESXi host and the backend storage appliance. In larger vSphere virtualized environments this variable length deduplication can offer significant financial savings in disk storage costs to a business. The variable length deduplication is the highly effective method that is used by most industry leading deduplication products such as EMC’s Avamar and Data Domain. With this technology being bundled into VCP, and at no extra cost, this makes VDP a very exciting new addition to VMware vSphere.

Below: VDP uses EMC Avamar technologies to provide some excellent backup & restore functionality

VMware VDP - Backups & Restores - vSphere Client

Another noteworthy feature of VCP is that it doesn’t require any agents to be installed on the VMs, meaning less hassle for administrators and less resources consumed and performance hits at the individual VM level.

Going forward we can expect to see VMware integrate network bandwidth management and priority level functionality into VDP using network technologies from their recent acquisition of software based networking company, Nicira.

As you can see there is definitely a compelling reason to give VDP a try and to check out the impressive vSphere Client integration and industry leading deduplication and CBT functionality it provides. I will be spinning it up in my lab to compare the deduplication levels provided by the variable length deduplication compared to fixed length. Expect to see a blog post on this soon.

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