Read this if you’re thinking of going 100% agentless!

Since the beginning of backup times (almost), backing up specific platforms has typically required an agent optimized for the environment in question.  Typically, you’d get one agent installed on each server, the agent would interact with the backup engine/server and do its thing.  This became very cumbersome when virtualization exploded, when adding a server (virtual) could be easily done with one phone call to your favorite admin. Not just one, but dozens or hundreds. It meant installing one agent on each virtual machine, which quickly became cumbersome and operationally created data protection gaps and issues.

Along came agentless backup which significantly reduced the difficulty associated with backing up virtual machines.  With this approach, you can capture all of the VMs with a proxy server without having to install an agent in each virtual machine.  Less administration, less data loss exposure…what else could be better? It certainly made agent backup look old and clunky.

Not so fast…. As is often the case, there’s more than meets the eye.  You can’t just go 100% agentless…Here’s why:

  • With VMware, any virtual machine that does not use native VMFS cannot be properly protected “agentless-ly” leveraging the native VMware API’s.  Raw Device Maps (RDM’S), and SQL Cluster disks are both examples where a different File System to VMFS is used.
  • Our competitor Company V’s agentless technology, for example, can’t protect these systems.  In contrast, Arcserve easily can through the installation of an agent.  In a recent conversation with our field, we confirmed that we often see customers who use RDM’s being told by Company V that they have to convert them to ‘normal’ virtual machines.  That’s a dirty little secret, and something that many customers just won’t deal with. (By the way, this company’s recent announcement around agent deserves serious inspection – a glorified desktop agent is not the same thing as a full-featured server agent.)

To quote one of our field leads: “Our physical server support through the UDP agent install is a significant advantage over Virtual only agentless solutions.  The ability to be able to protect and recover physical machines as bare metal, as virtual machines or at an object and file level is obvious, but it also allows us to protect virtual machines that are not supported by the native tools and API’s.  There are also circumstances where it may be preferable to install an agent inside the virtual machine – for example if the virtual machine is very large or has a very high change rate, or if the VM Tools are perhaps not properly configured or up to date.”

Also, with our High Availability module, which provides Continuous Data Protection, Fail Over, Fail Back and more, supporting replication and backup of an MSCS cluster running on Windows 2008 R2 in VMware with physical RDM is easy.  It is however a big issue with our competitors Company V and Company Z.  In addition, remember that Arcserve offers great deduplication, global across nodes.  Not everyone does that!

Beware of 100% agentless solutions – they just don’t cut it in many cases!

Arcserve UDP Appliances vs. Company “U”

The purpose-built appliance market has drastically changed in the past year, particularly in the mid-market. Historically, organizations looking to purchase all-in-one backup and recovery appliances only had a few limited choices, and specifically in the sub-100TB segment of source backup data.

The emergence of Arcserve UDP Appliances is changing the game, in particular for existing customers and prospects of Company U. There many reasons to underscore the acceleration of Arcserve UDP Appliances, and the subsequent reversal in market adoption for Company U’s solution.

While I will provide more specific detail below, let me net it out executive summary style:

  • Arcserve UDP Appliances are more cost-effective and provide more features than company U; one reason being their poor deduplication technology.
  • Company U’s reviews and tech support complaints on public community boards are at an all- time high.
  • Arcserve’s business is growing across the board, and our appliances and software have become the natural replacement for the aging and inefficient technologies in many organizations.

The smoking gun

One of the ways to determine marketing claims is to simply take a look at specifications and features. While Company U offers data deduplication – something you need as an end-user – it clearly lacks efficiency compared to the deduplication technology delivered by Arcserve..

How do you check? It’s simple: Take a look at the recommended configurations to see what model you’d need (how much on board-storage) to protect the amount of backup data (source data) you have in your environment, given some retention parameters.

But be careful, because Company U will tell you that its 120TB raw storage system can backup 80TB of data. (As a side note, in talking to customers in the field we believe it’s actually closer to 50TB – but let’s go with 80TB.) Conversely, Arcserve recommends a 30TB raw storage system for protecting roughly 90TB of source data. Note the difference here; needing 120TB vs 30TB to backup roughly the same amount of source data. In addition, it takes a 4U rack for Company U whereas the Arcserve UDP Appliance only requires a 2U rack.

Why does this matter? Read on to learn more about key differences in features and capabilities.

More features – that work

Deduplication:

Arcserve’s deduplication technology is global source-based deduplication. This means that the deduplication is shared across all appliances and/or software/server deployments, and allows us to deliver extremely high levels of storage space savings (please see what our customers said here).

On the other hand, Company U uses a combination of host backup deduplication and inline deduplication, which means there’s always going to be some post-processing of the data. Further, it’s only central to that one appliance – so if you have five Company U appliances, they can’t share the deduplication store.

Recently, Company U added “inline” deduplication – a departure from the initial post processing. However, it’s only file, VMs, Exchange and SQL data. This means data that isn’t inline is still post-processed, such as Oracle data and bare metal file system backup data. In this scenario, you still need a landing a zone and the backup data store needs a lot of storage – hence the specifications discussed above.

Deduplication meets replication – or not:

Arcserve UDP delivers replication across appliances or software RPS servers (UDP’s “brains”) and is a key differentiator. Not only can you do can do restores from these instances, but it’s also great for scalability.

In contrast, Company U doesn’t scale well for the enterprise – each appliance has its own engine, and you have to manage them individually (you can connect from one and see all of them, but there is no global deduplication).

Further, Company U can only do many to one, or one to one – meaning that one appliance can only go to one target of replication. In the words of one customer, “if you have over five appliances, it’s unusable.” There have been many reports of replications issues, where their customers claim “It stops. It’s not working – the replication is cued up and not keeping up.” Alternatively, Arcserve allows you to do many to one, one to many or pretty much any permutation that makes sense for your environment.

Hypervisors:

Bottom line: Company U doesn’t offer cross-hypervisor capabilities. To be fair, they can do Physical to Virtual for Windows machines however to do so, they have to put an agent on the Windows machine and back that up. You can put that image in VMware or HyperV, and on the physical appliance you can run Windows physical backups on their Linux appliance – Windows Instant Recovery. But you would still need an agent on the virtual machines.

In comparison, Arcserve UDP software and appliances support cross-hypervisor recoveries or migrations and agentless backup without limitations. Just what you would expect from a three-time Best of VMworld award winner

User Interface:

Company U debuted a new (much nicer) interface it its 9.0 version. I seem to remember older versions still mentioning OS/2 Warp as OS options, so it was time for a face lift. Nicely done. Except that not everything can be done through it, and you still have to go back to the old interface (that’s what we’ve heard anyway). Oh well.

Cloud: Nebulous:

Company U can go to Cloud, but only directly. While this sounds interesting, you can’t do appliance disk to appliance disk to cloud – or multi-hop, if you will. This is a huge operational limitation, and given the poor deduplication ratios, you likely need to watch you bandwidth closely.

Tape: What?

Check out Arcserve’s impressive support for tape capabilities. Company U offers no support for multiple tape drives, just one drive at a time, and 99% of the vendors are not on the compatibility matrix (I may be exaggerating, but it’s very limited).

Money Talks

Using publicly available list prices, it’s easy to plot a comparison of the cost of protecting 1TB of source data by vendor, based on the publicly recommended specifications. In other words, how much will it cost you to backup 1TB of data with Company U vs. Arcserve. Below are the results with three-year maintenance included (apples-to-apples comparison).

Cost per Source TB

Arcserve also offers a series of models that come with Virtual Standby capabilities. To be complete, here’s what the picture looks like if we compare these models:

Cost per source TB 2
Need we say more?

Arcserve UDP vs. Company Vm – Part 2

In this second and final post comparing Arcserve UDP and Company Vm, we will focus on some very important differences in our respective backup and recovery technology. Let’s first remember that Company Vm focuses only on data protection for virtual environments, and by definition, creates serious gaps in their ability to support hybrid environments.

Support for physical systems is a built-in capability with Arcserve UDP. While many production environments may be highly virtualized, not everyone is 100% virtualized yet, nor do industry analysts seem to believe it will ever be the case. This underscores a very real need to offer support that protects physical systems in addition to virtual servers, or customers have no choice but to run multiple solutions, which is counter-productive and doesn’t deliver coherent restores across the environment.   Arcserve UDP supports both physical and virtual sources, and rrestores to physical and virtual destinations.

In terms of flexible recovery options, Bare Metal Recovery (BMR) is a “must-have” in a data protection solution, and allows you to quickly recover when a complete system fails. Customers often resort to “adding on” other BMR products when their “virtual system only” product does not offer this capability. With Arcserve UDP, customers get instant BMR to support local and remote bare metal recovery of Linux physical machines. Instant BMR provides better restore capability and an improved end-user experience by enabling instant access to a target machine prior to the entire recovery process being finished. This feature empowers users to instantly regain access into a failed physical Linux node, and is a first of its kind.

Let’s talk about tape. Tape is not a primary backup medium anymore as most end-users today have adopted disk to disk strategies (i.e. backing up to disk vs. tape). However, there are still many reasons to use tape as a secondary backup medium for long term retention or archival requirements. Company Vm’s V9 technology introducedadvanced” tape support, including parallel processing, concurrent copy sessions and GFS Rotation schemes (Grand Father, Father, Son). However, you can’t “improvise” tape support; it takes years to master it – and Company Vm’s support is very basic. In contrast, Arcserve UDP offers actual advanced tape features, such as: multiplexing (2-32 jobs), multi-streaming, device group and media pool, GFS rotation and synthetic backup, append media, media maximization, media pool manager, tape library option and auto library detection and configuration, bar code support, auto inventory, auto eject media, monitor blank media quantity, tape management and tape vaulting, auto tape cleaning and configurable block size for tape. We could go on, but hopefully you see the stark differences in our tape support.

As far as remote office protection, it’s important to protect business data no matter where your employees are located, and to protect those data nodes in an efficient fashion. Company Vm’s solution requires a separately installed WAN Optimization service (and that’s for their Enterprise edition only). In comparison, Arcserve UDP’s Recovery Point Replication is included in all the versions of our solution, and our Gateway feature provides fast WAN Transfer that makes it highly efficient.

There are also differences in how Arcserve approaches cloud backup and replication, compared to Company Vm. Cloud backup and replication allows for the backup product console to connect to a cloud-based service provider. This lets you replicate VM copies or backup points offsite into the cloud as a disaster recovery solution.

With Arcserve, the target Hypervisor is cross-compatible, and the source and target Hypervisor can differ in this instance. Also, Arcserve supports this on physical servers at the source which allows for physical to virtual (P2V) to the service provider. With company Vm, one of the limitations is if you’re replicating from Hyper-V, your service provider must provide Hyper-V. Not very flexible, is it?

Finally, in contrast to Company Vm’s software and cloud partnership only, Arcserve UDP is available as a software solution but also as an appliance, in addition to the Arcserve Cloud.

Arcserve UDP vs. Company Vm. – Part 1

We recently introduced the new release of our award-winning Arcserve UDP software, so we think it’s the perfect time to provide a high level comparison between it and Company Vm’s recent V9 release.

Starting with one of the biggest differentiators is choice – we give our customers choice in how to consume Arcserve technology with a variety of integrated offerings, including software, appliances and a DRaaS cloud. We also offer the option of a High Availability (HA) module within Arcserve UDP, which means zero or very close to zero data loss (Recovery point objective =0), and with failover, virtually no time needed for recovery (Recovery Time Objective =0).

In contrast, Company Vm only offers software and cloud partnerships. It doesn’t support physical servers, nor does it offer appliances. Also, the company positions itself as providing “always on” capabilities, however it seems that their definition of availability means getting data back in 15 minutes. We hate to point out the obvious, but this isn’t High Availability, and it certainly isn’t “always on.”

In terms of eliminating redundant data through deduplication, here are the facts:

Arcserve

  • Arcserve UDP incorporates true, source-side global deduplication, where the deduplication domain is at the backup server (RPS) storage level.
  • Using Arcserve UDP, all physical and virtual sources will be included in the same deduplication domain, including physical Linux nodes.
  • Real life customer results have been astounding, showing a reduction in storage of 500 TBs to less than 13.4 TBs on a backup disk (that’s a 97.3% decrease)! This means a smaller storage footprint and much lower costs.

Company Vm

  • Company Vm’s deduplication is across a single backup job; hence they recommend an “add-on” Purpose-Built Backup Appliance. Can you hear this noise? Yes, it’s your budget being siphoned off…
  • Company Vm is focused on third-party storage vendors (HP and Data Domain) to assist in reducing backup storage. Makes sense, if your technology can’t do it, have the hardware guys do it. It’s your money, remember…

In the case of Instant Virtual Machines, we offer more capabilities and recently won three best virtualization solution awards at VMworld – an interesting fact given that Company Vm focuses almost exclusively on virtual environments (whereby we specialize in recovery of all environments). Nevertheless, here a few facts:

  • Company Vm offers Instant VM capability. Arcserve offers Virtual Standby Machines and now Instant VM and Instant Bare Metal Restore.
  • We introduced Instant VM in the latest release of Arcserve UDP. Like Company Vm’s v9 release, Arcserve UDP offers vPower Cache functionality, however Arcserve UDP can also support instant VM restore across hypervisors.
  • Unlike Company Vm, Arcserve UDP can instantly restore a VMware VM onto Hyper-V, and vice versa, while also protecting physical machines and enabling instant VM recovery of a physical node (P2V). It’s evident that instant VM in Arcserve UDP offers more bang for its buck.

We mentioned awards, here’s more detail: Arcserve UDP won three Best of VMworld awards last year. The first was for the Best BC/DR Solution for Virtualized Environments in San Francisco, followed by the Best BC/DR Project and Best of Show in Barcelona. We’re very proud of our achievements, but the best reward is to see our happy customers and the increasing number of businesses switching from the other company’s solution to Arcserve UDP.