VMware has worked on improving its native backup over the
past couple of years. VMware now
has vSphere Data Protection (VDP), which is very similar to EMC Avamar Virtual Edition. VDP
includes both image level and file level recovery. These are several of the features included with VDP as noted in
the Administration Guide (PDF):

  • Significantly reduces disk space consumed by
    backup data using smart deduplication across all backups
  • Reduces the cost of backing up virtual machines
    and minimizes the backup window using change block tracking and VMware virtual
    machine snapshots
  • Direct access to VDP configuration integrated into the standard vSphere Web Client

I’ll walk you through how to install and
configure VDP. One thing to consider before you install VDP in your environment is the size of the
datastore required. There is a
nice sample of a sizing chart in the Administration Guide (Figure A). Also, once you size your VDP datastore,
you cannot go back and change it. In
this case, I’m deploying VDP Advanced, which has an 8 TB limit. The free VDP only goes up to 2 TB.

Figure A

See an enlarged view of the image.

Installing VDP

  1. Download the Virtual Appliance from your VMware
    customer portal.
  2. Add the hostname and IP in DNS.
  3. If you plan to use a new service account for
    your VDP implementation, add it to the administrators group in SSO
    on the vSphere 5.1 web client.
  4. While you’re still in the vCenter web client, go to
    Actions | Deploy OVF Template from the Datacenter object and browse to the
    .OVA download you got in the first step.
  5. Go through the deploy OVF wizard.
  6. Power on the VDP.
  7. Open the console, and you’ll see step 1 indicates
    you need to open a web browser and connect to https://IP_Address:8543/vdp-configure.
  8. Log in with username root and password changeme.
  9. Follow the wizard to finish the configuration. If you run into problems with the last
    step of registering with vCenter, follow the VMware KB 2040066. Basically, just make sure you’re using a user that’s not
    inheriting permissions and follow the KB to ensure this individual user is an
  10. When you’re prompted to reboot the appliance, click Yes, and it will automatically reboot. You can look at the console of the VDP
    appliance to check the status from the vSphere Client — this could take up to 45 minutes
    or so.
  11. After
    the reboot completes, you need to close and re-open your vSphere web
    client. You should see vSphere
    Data Protection in the left pane (Figure B).

Figure B

See an enlarged view of the image.

Configuring VDP

Because I’m deploying VDP Advanced I can have up to 8 TB of
capacity; however, it is initially
installed with 2 TB. You can choose
to install using thin or thick provisioning. VMware recommends installing it using thin provisioning and
then changing it to thick, as this will minimize your install time. Once it is installed, you can increase
it to the full 8 TB. 

Follow these steps to increase capacity:

  1. Click vSphere Data Protection in the left
    pane. Click Connect in the main
    window to connect to your recently deployed VDP appliance.
  2. Click the Configuration tab.
  3. Click the Capacity Manager button (Figure C).
  4. Increase the desired capacity to 4 TB, 6 TB, or
    8 TB depending on how much data you’re backing up or how much physical storage
    capacity you have.
  5. Put a check next to I Have A Validated Clone Or
    Backup and click Add. If you’ve just installed the VDP appliance and you
    haven’t run any backups, you don’t really need to worry about creating a
    validated clone or backup.

Figure C

See an enlarged view of the image.

Now you can create backup jobs by clicking the Backup tab and create restore jobs by clicking the Restore
tab. You can also get reports on
demand and have reports emailed to you. Check out the Administration Guide for best practices on setting up backups and black out times, etc.

Initial impressions

Upon initial installation, I’m pretty happy with the VDP
appliance; it’s very intuitive, and
there’s plenty of documentation on configuration after the install. I haven’t used it in a
production environment, so I can’t speak to how reliable it is. Hopefully, I’ll have more information on
that soon.

If you’re using VDP or VDP Advanced, let us know what you think about it in
the comments section.