Who cares about Citrix XenServer?

When I spend time on various forums related to hypervisor preferences, I often see Citrix XenServer users having to justify their choice of hypervisor. Five years ago, its market share was second only to VMware. Now, Citrix themselves have made XenServer open source. Of course, they still provide full support options and hardware certifications, but they have made only one release update after launching the open source strategy in 2013. As a result, people can be pretty critical of XenServer.

Unitrends takes a different stance – a commitment to our customers and their fanatical support of a free hypervisor that has offered reliability and a lot of great management features. For instance, XenServer users could take advantage of VM mobility and high availability without paying for expensive licenses. The free hypervisor also makes its APIs available for backup, unlike other free hypervisors (cough…Free ESXi…cough).

When Unitrends acquired PHD Virtual at the end of 2013, we acquired thousands of customers using the product to protect Citrix XenServer at the hypervisor level (no agents). Earlier this year, we announced that we were unifying our software offerings to deliver a single engine with much more enterprise functionality and scalability. Through that program, we gave users of PHD Virtual Backup – later renamed Unitrends Virtual Backup – a free migration to Unitrends Enterprise Backup (UEB).

The main problem for XenServer customers…UEB could not protect XenServer at the hypervisor level. It could only protect XenServer virtual machines (VMs) at the guest level using an agent. While that is still highly valuable – I’ll talk about that in a second – it wasn’t the simple hypervisor protection those customers had learned to love.

This is another reason why Release 9.0 is so important for Unitrends. We finally get to deliver critical continuity functionality to a segment of our customer base that has been hugely patient with us during the unification process.

In return for that patience, here is what we can now deliver to Citrix XenServer customers with v9.0:

  • Image-based hypervisor backup for XenServer VMs with granular and full VM recovery
  • Granular file-level protection of virtual machines with the ability to search for files across backups
  • SQL Server, Exchange, Oracle and SharePoint application-level protection and recovery
  • Integration with cloud storage for offsite backup copies (Unitrends Cloud, Amazon S3, Google Nearline and more)
  • Long-term retention with the Unitrends Forever Cloud storage service
  • Integrated Disaster Recovery as a Service in Unitrends Cloud (for Windows guest-level protection)
  • Protection and recovery for physical servers and desktops
  • A very familiar, but improved Satori user interface
  • Free conversion options from Unitrends Virtual Backup to Unitrends Enterprise Backup
  • Up to 42% savings on new licenses with much more functionality

Many of these features have been requested for quite some time by our XenServer customers, and we are truly honored to be able to deliver them.

For instance, we know that XenServer hypervisor backups use snapshots. Those XenServer snapshots can actually take up quite a bit of space on a Storage Repository (SR). Being able to leverage a guest agent for file and application backups is huge in being able to reduce production storage requirements, as well as Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs), because the agent bypasses the need for hypervisor snapshots and even includes change tracking at the file level. This flexibility that we call deep virtualization is crucial to meeting your recovery requirements for certain XenServer virtual machines that are not suitable for hypervisor level protection.

Add to that the ability to use the Unitrends Cloud for offsite storage, long-term retention and business continuity, and we think UEB 9.0 takes a major step that goes well beyond what XenServer customers were ever able to achieve in the past.

It is important to note that XenServer hypervisor level protection is only available in Unitrends Enterprise Backup virtual appliances for XenServer. This is due to a XenServer requirement to reside within the hypervisor environment to efficiently access VM storage. I’ll do another blog about how the Recovery Series can play a role here for full environment continuity that includes XenServer, primarily due to the fact that UEB and Recovery Series appliances can all be centrally managed – and even copy backups to each other – as a unified solution.

We’d love to hear from our customers about Release 9.0 and how they feel about the new XenServer integration with deep virtual protection. It is available for download now. So please do share your thoughts and experiences.

Comments

  1. I really like the introduction of xenserver support. I’m not sure it was even on option when I first bought my recovery series appliances. Joe, can you go into detail a little bit on how to integrate UEB and a recovery series appliance? There isn’t anything built into the recovery series that seems to be able to backup my xenserver directly.

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