At VMworld Europe ’09 there’s a opportunity to visit the hands-on labs. One of the labs shows the new backup and recovery solution from VMware, VMware vCenter Data Recovery. This is a disk-based tool, completely integrated with VMware vCenter Server. It supports data de-deduplication out of the box.

A Virtual Appliance does all the actual backup and recovery work, so you’ll need to think of this VA as the ‘engine’ of the product. It is managed via a vCenter Server plugin.

After placing the VA and installing the plugin (both were already done by VMware in the lab),  the plugin needs to be registered against the vCenter Server, and needs to be pointed at (one of) the VA (‘s). At the plugin-configuration, a destination LUN needs to be defined for placement of the backups. A great advantage of the VMware vCenter Data Recovery solution is the lack of a need for agents within the VM. However, for Microsoft Windows VM’s there’s support for VSS. The backups are made using snapshots, which frankly isn’t a big surprise.

For easy management, there’s plenty of ways (levels, actually) to select VM’s for backup. You can select individual disks within VM’s, the VM’s themselves, Resource Pools or Clusters. When selecting the VM’s for backup, there’s no explicit mention of data deduplication, but the product will always do this, unless it is explicitly deselected.

VMware aims this product to be really simple. For that reason, they’ve implemented Retention Policy’s to manage the history of backups. There’s a couple of standard policy’s, but it is possible to customize or add your own.

The big down-side of this unreleased version is the lack of file-based backup and recovery. At this time, only disk-based (VMDK-based) backup and recovery is available. Hopefully, there will be file-based backup and recovery in the final product.

I’ve attended this lab, and have made a lot of screenshots to show how the product works. See all the screenshots below!

For all the Dutch people: You can read my article in Dutch on the Dutch VMUG website.