How and Why vProtect Displaced Bacula for Protecting Red Hat Virtualization / oVirt

After years of almost exponential growth, with many businesses virtualizing over 80% of their workloads, the virtualization industry has hit a tipping point. Now more than ever, organizations are questioning the value proposition of the “Big Two,” VMware and Hyper-V, and looking at alternative hypervisors. And this means looking at backup eco-system alternatives as well.

This doesn’t mean that organizations aren’t continuing to invest in virtualization. The hypervisor market continues to grow at a solid rate. What it means is that the market is seeing a shift in how organizations are virtualizing their infrastructure.

Over the last ten years, the Big Two have dominated the market. But as organizations continue to virtualize more and more of their workloads, the increased cost of the Big Two has begun to be too much to handle for a lot of companies. In the wake of this, we are beginning to see the creation and growth of alternative open-source or niche hypervisors like Red Hat Virtualization, Citrix Hypervisor, Oracle VM, etc.

The issue organizations are dealing with is the following: we cannot afford to continue to expand the VMware or Hyper-V environment, but it’s hard to trust these new, open-source hypervisors, especially when our existing backup solution is unable to protect the virtual machines.

That is where vProtect comes in. vProtect is a modern, enterprise-level backup solution designed specifically to protect these open VM environments. This includes support for Nutanix Acropolis, Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer), RedHat Virtualization, KVM, and many more. vProtect enables agentless VM-level protection and can function as a standalone solution or integrate with your existing enterprise backup software.

As you can imagine, as the open-source hypervisor market is beginning to expand, vProtect is not the only solution out in the market for these types of environments. Another such product is Bacula. Bacula, like vProtect, focuses attention on the niche market of open-sourced hypervisors. A quote straight from Bacula’s website claims to feature “the most advanced backup and recovery for RedHat Virtualization on the planet.” Now, is this really the case? How does Bacula compare to vProtect in this RHEV/oVirt (Red Hat Virtualization) space? And how does it measure up in terms of support for all the other open-sourced hypervisor options that are out there? Does it support containers? How about AWS EC2 machines? Does it support cloud offload?

According to end-users that we have been in touch with, Bacula (for the most part) is successful in protecting the VMs. It does what it says it does. However, some have complaints about backup speeds and flexibility when it comes to allowing different ways to transfer the VM data. Bacula really only offers one transport method, and that is image-based transfers.

vProtect, on the other hand, offers multiple backup methods:

  • Image-based transfers
  • Disk attachment method
  • Changed block tracking for incremental backups
  • A new transfer method that moves VM data via SSH.

These options allow end-users more flexibility when it comes to architecture and networking.

Another specific complaint that we have heard directly from a Fortune 100 organization and one of the largest technology companies in the world (a former Bacula user who has since purchased vProtect), is that for any oVirt users, integration requires an oVirt image-io Proxy which causes bottlenecks when running simultaneous backup jobs. This prevented them from being able to run more than a couple of backup jobs at the same time. With vProtect, using a disk-attachment method to transfer the VM data, this customer has cut backup and recovery times in half.

Another area where vProtect is impressing former Bacula users is its modern, easy-to-use web UI. According to several end-users, Bacula’s UI is cumbersome and far from intuitive. We like to say a user interface is like a joke – if you have to explain it, then it’s not a good one. Because of this, most Bacula admins perform their tasks using Linux command line. However, this may be daunting for someone who is not comfortable using Linux, or knowledgeable about Bacula infrastructure.

There appears to be a steep learning curve when it comes to configuration and administration, which may be difficult to overcome for new users if, for example, your Bacula admin leaves the company or is simply on vacation. The UI for vProtect is intuitive and clean. Most of our customers request a license, install, configure, and run the product with no need for assistance from us. It’s that easy.

Finally, vProtect has the advantage in its wide range of virtual environments and backup destinations that it supports. According to its website, among open VM environments Bacula has hypervisor support for RedHat, KVM, and ProxMox. vProtect, on the other hand, includes support for each of these hypervisors, but also several others. These include: Nutanix AHV, Oracle VM, Xen, Citrix Hypervisor (XenServer), OpenStack, Amazon Web Services, and also Kubernetes and OpenShift containers.

vProtect also offers multiple options for backup destinations. This includes local file system or NFS, existing NAS devices, DataDomain appliances, cloud locations, etc. But most importantly, vProtect is able to integrate directly with a customer’s existing enterprise backup solution like IBM Spectrum Protect, DellEMC NetWorker, Catalogic Software vStor, and Veritas NetBackup.

In conclusion, don’t get stuck spending incredible amounts of money on your VMware or Hyper-V environment just because you don’t know there are other viable options out there. Many organizations, including large enterprise companies, are deciding to make the switch to alternative, open-sourced virtualization platforms, and turning to products like vProtect to make sure that data is protected. Check out the Open Virtualization Pro blog for loads of information on open hypervisors.

If you would like to learn more about vProtect, you can request a live demo or even get a 30-day trial copy to try it for yourself. We’ll be happy to help you set things up.

We also have a pre-recorded demo available on our website if you would like to see the product in action.

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08/05/2019 0 Comments

Did we move too far away from tape for backup?

For the oldsters like me who’ve been around the backup world for a long time, we remember when tape was the only game in town. I even remember flash-in-the-pan technologies like tape RAID, which was an attempt to get backups going faster. In that very old linked article, it mentions that “just over the horizon” are tapes that will hold a massive 50 GB per cartridge! (If you’ve been out of the tape loop – hah hah – current LTO technology fits 12 TB on a cartridge uncompressed, which is close to a 24,000 percent improvement. Yes, kids, times change.)

There were a lot of good reasons to move backups to disk instead of tape: faster backup and restore, direct access vs. linear access to files, and you can do fancy stuff like spin up full system recoveries right from the backup repository (Catalogic invented that, by the way!). The move to disk was so strong that many organizations ended up getting rid of tape altogether. But have we gone too far in the disk direction?

On that topic, I recommend this short and informative video from George Crump of Storage Switzerland. Crump starts with the simple point that while most organizations keep backup data from 5 to 7 years, most recoveries happen within ten days of backup. In fact, 95% are from the most recent backup, and it drops quickly after that. As he notes, “We’re storing a lot of data on disk that will never be accessed again.” The question becomes: is it time to “reintroduce tape to the backup process”?

There are a lot of big advantages that Crump points out:

  • Tape is less expensive, even compared to cloud
  • Tape offers greater density (multiple terabytes per cartridge)
  • Tape is more transportable (tapes can be shipped anywhere)
  • Tape uses less power (drives only run when in use; tapes on the shelf use no power)

Yes, disk is still much better for fast recovery of short-term data, but nobody is saying to get rid of disk. The problem is that for organizations that got rid of tape entirely, they may have ended up spending more than they need to. Returning to tape could yield significant benefits. Consider that you could reduce your backup storage by something like 50-80% by moving older data to tape. That’s a lot less disk to worry about.

As Crump sums it up, “Using tape as part of the back process makes sense. It always made sense. We probably went too far in the other direction.”

If you left tape behind and are considering going back – or if you think you’re just spending too much on your current backup software – consider looking at Catalogic DPX. Unlike some of the more recent backup products that bolted tape support on and never really did it right, we’ve been doing tape from the start. We know our way around a tape library.

And you don’t necessarily have to replace all of your backups. We’ve been hearing a lot lately from organizations looking to offload their NDMP backups to something more cost-effective in order to reduce their costly capacity licenses on their legacy backups. DPX can function as an NDMP-only backup product while saving you a bundle.

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06/10/2019 0 Comments

Latest vProtect Release Adds Kubernetes, Hypervisor Snapshot Management, More

It was only three months ago that I blogged about the new vProtect release. And now it’s time for another one! Hot from the developers’ keyboards comes vProtect v 3.7, the Multiverse release. Why Multiverse? Because it’s opening up new worlds.

For starters, a big new thing is the addition of support for Kubernetes. Now with vProtect you can back up persistent volumes on your Kubernetes Deployments. For a bit more technical detail, check out this two-minute whiteboard video. With this initial release, only full backups are supported, and Pods need to be paused during backup. But this is just the start of a lot more to come on the container front.

One of my favorite new features in the release is the addition of hypervisor snapshot management. Now for VMs running on KVM, RedHat Virtualization and Citrix Xen, you can manage the hypervisor snaps, which means setting snapshot schedules and retention times in vProtect. These are not backups, but snapshots made on the hypervisor level. And this is in addition to the regular backups that vProtect supports. So you get a short-term protection option with fast restore/revert using the snaps, plus a longer-term backup to a separate target device, all managed in one place. Nice!

Some of the other new features are bringing incremental backups to the KVM universe, adding tag support for Oracle VMs (as in apply a backup policy to a VM based on a tag), and automatic protection of the vProtect database.

vProtect continues to add great new features in support of the open hypervisor market space that many other backup vendors have neglected for too long. For more information, visit our vProtect page, where you can click on the “Request a Demo” button to schedule a one-on-one product demonstration, or to request trial software so you can run it yourself. You can also watch a webinar version of this blog.

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11/15/2018 0 Comments

Meet our New Technology Partner, Storware

Today Catalogic announced that we’ve entered into an exclusive distribution agreement with Storware, Inc., a Polish software company that creates some really impressive data protection products. We think this is a great fit for our two organizations, and we’re looking forward to doing some really cool things together.

In the short term, Catalogic will be delivering two Storware products into the North American market.

vProtect is an enterprise backup solution for Open VM environments such as Nutanix, Citrix, RedHat and more. While the data protection space is completely crowded with vendors offering solutions for VMware and Hyper-V, the Open VM landscape is underserved.  But hypervisors that aren’t one of the “Big Two” are growing rapidly, and users are putting vital workloads on them. These systems need to be protected.

KODO provides data protection and file sharing for endpoints and SaaS platforms. It takes on the long-standing challenge of protecting laptop data and extends that out to mobile devices like tablets and phones.  More and more, mobile workers are abandoning traditional compute platforms and doing everything on their tablets and phones. Content is not just read on the go now, it’s created on the go. Vast amounts of critical organizational data are riding in your pocket, and way too many organizations still haven’t tackled the challenge of protecting that data.

KODO is also taking on SaaS platforms. We’re starting by offering coverage for Microsoft Office 365 and the documents contained in OneDrive, but that’s just the beginning. Lots more to come in this space.

We’re really excited to be bringing these products to market. They are both built with modern components, have very easy and intuitive “app-like” interfaces, and come with REST APIs built from the ground up.

But this is more than a distribution agreement. When we first met the folks at Storware it was immediately apparently that our two organizations had a great cultural fit, and a shared vision of the technology landscape. As a result, Catalogic decided to go beyond a product agreement and we invested into Storware as a company. This gives us a shared future together, and we’re already busy planning how we can bring our individual strengths together to drive a one-plus-one-equals-three outcome.

We’ll have a lot more to say about these products in future blogs.

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06/04/2018 0 Comments

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