By Dave Simpson
– As part of its ongoing rollout of version 8.2 of its Akeia Network Backup software, Arkeia this week introduced a backup agent that leverages the VMware vStorage API, which has replaced VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB).
Support for vStorage provides a number of benefits, but the top two, according to Arkeia CEO Bill Evans, are significantly faster backups and the management benefits that come from tight integration with VMware platforms and components such as VMware vSphere 4, vCenter, ESX and ESXi.
"The biggest advantage of vStorage is increased speed of backups because of the Changed Block Tracking [CBT] technology that vStorage provides," says Evans. "The performance increase depends on a number of factors, but it could be an order of magnitude faster." (CBT, which is included in vSphere 4, enables incremental backups where only changed blocks are transferred over the network, which significantly reduces network traffic and speeds backups.)
How much faster are CBT-based backups? Arkeia's engineering team provided the following response:
"The number of blocks changed between one incremental backup and another might represent 5% of the blocks on a volume, though the exact fraction of blocks changed depends on the backup environment and backup frequency. Assuming 5% of the blocks change, the incremental backups made possible by CBT would allow a backup to be performed in 5% of the time required by a full backup. This is a performance improvement of 20X and can be considered typical."
Supporting vStorage/CBT also enables three types of backups: "full thin," incremental and differential.
Another advantage of the Arkeia backup agent for vStorage is simplified management of backup and recovery for environments with multiple physical hosts. "vStorage supports ESX, ESXi and vCenter, so you don't have to manage VMs individually on multiple physical hosts," says Evans. "You can manage them as collections through vCenter, which makes backups much simpler."
The Arkeia backup agent for VMware represents phase three of the company's rollout of Arkeia Network Backup 8.2. Previous announcements included new backup agents for Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, SQL Server and Hyper-V via Microsoft's VSS APIs, and agents for Novell GroupWise, eDirectory and iFolder via SMS interfaces.
Pricing for the vStorage backup agent starts at $1,500 per VMware vSphere server. For existing customers, upgrades from Arkeia's ESX backup agent are free.
The company also announced a bundled package, called Arkeia Virtual Appliance for VMware Essentials, that includes one Network Backup Server (delivered as a virtual appliance), one vStorage backup agent, and support for 1TB of storage for disk-based backup and unlimited storage for backup to tape. The virtual appliance bundle is priced at $2,000.