A VMware Host-Level Backup Fairy Tale

Cinderella.  Snow White.  Hansel and Gretal.  VMware host level backup works well with all deduplication strategies.  These famous, and not so famous, fairy tales have one thing in common – they  are fiction.  Today, I wanted to explore one of the three fairy tales of VMware backup – more specifically, why VMware host-level backup works with all VMware host environments.

VMware proponents often call out that the VMware vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) offer a far superior backup technology when compared to any other virtualization environment.  And this is absolutely true.  Then some fans of VMware go one step further and state that this applies to all host-level forms of VMware.  This is a fairy tale.

VADP is offered on two of the three versions of host-level VMware: ESX and licensed ESXi.  One of the most common forms of host-level VMware, free ESXi, does not offer VADP.  This isn’t inadvertent on the part of VMware – it is a strategy designed to differentiate their paid versions of ESX and ESXi from the free version of ESXi.

If you’re using free ESXi, be aware that you’re not going to be using VADP or any other form of host-level protection.  You’re going to protect each virtual machine as if it was a physical machine.  If you’re licensing your backup software on a per-protected computer basis, you’re going to be paying a whole lot of money for that “free” ESXi that you’re using.

Coming up on Thursday, I’ll wrap up the three VMware backup fairy tales by first debunking the idea that VMware host-level backup works well with all deduplication strategies.  Then, I’ll shed some light on the false idea going around that VMware host-level backup has problems when you use Microsoft Windows guest operating systems.


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