VMware vDP and Avamar – Blown out of Proportion
The dust has settled a bit since the announcement of vSphere 5.1, including the new VMware Data Protector (vDP) functionality based on EMC Avamar code. Immediately following the announcement there were:
- EMC folks reporting this proves Avamar is the greatest thing since sliced bread because VMware chose Avamar Virtual Edition (AVE) as the basis for vDP
- VMware folks stating vDP only leverages Avamar technology – it is a new product co-developed by VMware and EMC rather than AVE with a new GUI.
- Critics/Competitors saying they are two completely different products and this announcement doesn’t mean anything or this announcement means the world will be running Hyper-V in 12-18 months as EMC takes over VMware and fails miserably.
What’s my opinion? Being a middle-of-the-road guy, naturally I think both the far left and right are blowing things out of proportion and VMware employees were generally the most accurate in their assessments.
We can hold these things to be self-evident:
- vDP is a virtual appliance. AVE is a virtual appliance. One would find it highly unlikely that VMware would completely re-write the virtual appliance used for vDP, but we don’t know for sure.
- The vDP GUI is a heck of a lot simpler to manage for the average SMB shop than AVE. EMC needs to learn a lesson here and quickly – not just for SMB customers but also Enterprise customers running full-blown Avamar.
- vDR was getting a little bit better, but a scan of the VMware Community Forums quickly showed it was a poor product. Even the smallest of SMB shops did not like it and usually ended up going the Veeam route after struggling to get vDR working.
- Avamar does have best-in-class de-duplication algorithms so it’s not hard to accept the argument that VMware evaluated different de-dupe technologies and picked Avamar’s to the be nuts and bolts under vDP.
- I wouldn’t try to outsmart Joe Tucci. We might see some pushing of the envelope with regards to the EMC-VMware relationship, but he’s not going to screw this thing up.
Questions in my mind…
- AVE was very performance hungry. In fact, before install it required a benchmark test be run for 24-48 hours that was very disk intensive. If certain specs were not met, EMC would not support the AVE configuration. This is why EMC almost always sells Avamar as a HW/SW appliance. In my mind, the typical vDP user is probably going to use some very low-cost storage as the backup repository. I wonder how this product is going to perform unless some significant performance enhancements were made to the vDP product relative to AVE.
- Even the smallest of SMB’s typically want their backups to be stored off-site, and vDP doesn’t offer any replication capability, nor does it offer any sort of tape-out mechanism. Is this really a practical solution for anybody nowadays?
- Is there an upgrade path from vDP to full Avamar? I’ve seen EMC employees post in their blogs that there is a clear upgrade path if you outgrow vDP, every other post I’ve seen says there is no upgrade path. I’ve not been able to find any official documentation about the upgrade path. Which is it, and is there an expensive PS engagement involved?
All in all, the providers of SMB-oriented VMware backup solutions such as Veeam don’t have much to be worried about yet. It’s a strange world of “coopetition” that we live in today. EMC and VMware cooperating on vDP. VMware partnering with all storage vendors, yet being majority owned by EMC. EMC partnering closely with Microsoft and beefing up Hyper-V support in all their products. All storage vendors partnering closely with Oracle, but Oracle getting into the storage business. Cisco partnering with NetApp on FlexPod and also with VCE on vBlock. EMC pushing Cisco servers to their clients but also working with Lenovo for some server OEM business. The list goes on and all indications are this is the new reality we will be living with for some time.
What would I do if I were Veeam or another provider of SMB backup for virtual machines? Keep continuing to innovate like crazy, as Veeam has done. It’s no different than what VMware needs to keep doing to ensure they stay ahead of Microsoft. Might I suggest for Veeam specifically, amp up the “coopetition” and build DD BOOST support into your product. DataDomain is the best-in-class target de-dupe appliance with the most market share. Unfortunately, the way Veeam and DD work together today is kludgey at best. Although Veeam can write to NFS storage, it does not work well with a NFS connection directly to the DD appliance. Rather, it is recommended to setup an intermediary Linux server to re-export the NFS export from the DD box. A combination of Veeam with DD BOOST and something like a DD160 for the average SMB shop would be a home run and crush vDP as a solution any day of the week. I have heard that Quest vRanger recently built support for DD BOOST into their product and it will be interesting to see if that remains now that Quest was purchased by Dell.