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Monday was an interesting day at VMworld with respect to backup. VMware announced that in their new vSphere 5.1 release that they were replacing their VDR (VMware vSphere Data Recovery) backup product. VDR is a VMware-only virtual backup appliance that VMware bundled into its VMware vSphere Essentials Plus kit as well as its Standard, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus editions. MSRP for these range from $995 to $3495 per socket for the editions and $4495 for up to six sockets (three hosts, two sockets) with Essentials Plus.

VDR is being replaced with VDP (VMware vSphere Data Protection.) VDP shares some underlying technology with EMC’s Avamar program primarily having to do with deduplication mechanisms. However, VDP and Avamar are completely different products – despite reporting prior to VMworld in CRN that a restricted version of Avamar was being put into VMware. Specifically, the report predicted

VMware is expected next week to use its VMworld conference to unveil plans to embed the Avamar Virtual Edition in VMware’s vSphere 5.1, giving users the opportunity to back up a maximum of 2 TBs of data free of charge, according to multiple channel sources.

Avamar Virtual Edition is a virtual appliance version of EMC’s Avamar data protection software, which is deployed within a VMware virtual machine.

Customers would also have the opportunity to upgraded to a full version of the Avamar software, channel sources said.

It was a great scoop from a great writer over at CRN – Joe Kovar. But you have to wonder about the motives of the “sources” for the first article. I thought Dave Raffo did a good job over at SearchDataBackup in his article vSphere Data Protection brings Avamar dedupe, possible conflicts of laying out the facts after the announcement had been made. The most interesting quote from the article was from the leader of the EMC backup division (which includes Avamar):

BJ Jenkins, president of EMC’s backup and recovery systems division, said the OEM deal will help bring Avamar into the SMB market and could lead customers to upgrade as they outgrow the 2 TB limit.

“We’ll continue to build out features and functions in VDP,” he said. “This can provide a seeding for customers who will grow into the full Avamar product.”

If I led Avamar, I’d sure hope so – VMware has great growth and is a strong lure. If I led VMware, I’d sure hope not – the backup ecosystem around VMware has led to great growth not only for some vendors but for resellers and even VMware itself.

And Raffo does a great job of laying this out clearly through contrasting quotes:

“Is it Avamar? Sort of. Kind of,” Hunter [VMware Senior Technical Marketing Manager Jeff Hunter] told a packed session. “We co-developed VDP with EMC and some Avamar code is in there. But this is a VMware product, and totally different than Avamar.”

[…]

But EMC’s Jenkins made it clear that Avamar is driving vSphere Data Protection. “The core of it is Avamar,” he said. “It’s the Avamar engine built to look like VMware. It’s a traditional OEM deal.”

Interesting, huh?

My take from the Unitrends perspective is pretty simple. If you have a 100% VMware-only environment, know that you’ll never have anything but a 100% VMware-only environment in the future, then I think VDP is a pretty interesting solution. However, if you have or plan to ever accommodate any change in your IT infrastructure – if you ever want or plan to have other hypervisors as well as physical systems in your environment, we’d love to talk to you about our products which support 100+ versions of servers, operating systems, applications, hypervisors, storage, etc. And which is hellaciously more affordable than Avamar.

What do you think about the EMC and VMware competing points of view?