Protecting the VMware Only Data Center – Unitrends Briefing Note

Today, companies that make up the “M” part of small to medium sized businesses (SMB) as well as small enterprises, have data centers that are 100% or close to 100% virtualized, leveraging VMware as their hypervisor. There are no “teams” at these organizations. There is no backup team, storage team, network team nor a virtualization team. There is one team, sometimes a team of one, to manage all of the various IT services. Part of that team’s responsibilities is to ensure the adequate protection of their VMware environment with the right backup solution.

Is Siloed Protection Really That Bad?

In these VMware only data centers, the vAdmin is usually responsible for finding the right backup solution and historically that meant selecting a VMware specific backup solution. vAdmins like VMware specific solutions because they don’t try to do too much. These backup solutions are not overloaded with features to protect applications, operating systems or other hypervisors that the organization may never have.

Standing up a separate silo to protect a single aspect of the data center defies one the basic best practices of data protection, a single protection solution for the data center. These environment specific solutions receive their fair share of criticism for bucking the trend. As the mud starts to fly, what legacy vendors missed is the fact that if a data center was VMware only (or mostly) then that siloed solution does provide complete coverage. The other missing part of the argument is, even if the data center does have other platforms, the vAdmin is now in charge of the most important part of the data center and they had a specific problem to solve. A VMware only solution seems like the easiest most cost effective way to get there.

The Success Problem

There is a success problem that comes along at some point for both the supplier of the environment specific data protection software and the company itself. As the data protection supplier becomes successful, the natural course of growth is to add features so that it can compete in more and more accounts. The problem is, to meet market expectations, the supplier often adds features inorganically, chaining in a series of add-ons or trying to integrate open-source code. Organic creation of the code for advance features takes time, and that is time that the supplier believes it does not have. The result is the supplier ends up with a series of disjointed features while at the same time it raises the price of its core solution.

There is also a success problem as the organization, the software supplier’s customer, becomes successful. As a business grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain a VMware only data center. Eventually the data center sees the introduction of other hypervisors as well as other workloads and there is almost always an initiative to move some workloads to the cloud.

The second success problem in some ways feeds the first success problem. As the organization grows and adds platforms it begins demanding that the once VMware only backup solution protect platforms other than VMware.

What the VMware Data Center Needs

The VMware data center needs a solution that is very VMware specific but has the potential to grow outside of a VMware only solution when and if other platforms become significant within the organization. Interestingly, traditional enterprise vendors may be in a better position to walk with the customer through this evolution since they already have the beyond VMware integration issue resolved. It may be easier for them to deliver a VMware specific solution that removes unneeded features.

Introducing VM Backup Essentials

Unitrends recently announced VM Backup Essentials (vBE) which it specifically targets to VMware administrators. The solution provides a complete VMware data protection feature set with top notch cloud integration and aggressive pricing ($105 per socket per year). vBE is based on Unitrends’ same, well vetted code base that is the foundation of the Unitrends Backup Appliances. The key change is that Unitrends tuned the interface for VMware backups. The result is a simplified and easy to use interface that provides deep VM integration plus enterprise class deduplication, public cloud integration, ransomware detection and one of the highest rated DRaaS solutions in the market.

StorageSwiss Take

Vendors often make the mistake of leaving their core market to chase down the next big thing. While there is nothing wrong with expanding an applications feature set, the vendor loses the focus that made them so powerful in their original market. There seems to be a void in VMware backup, with traditional VM specific vendors attracted to the next new thing, new hypervisor, new platform, the cloud etc. The timing may be ideal for an enterprise solution vendor to step into the potential void and provide a solution for an abandoned market.

Eleven years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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