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Vizioncore may be first to correctly back up VMware ESXi

With the new version of vRanger Pro, Vizioncore may be the first backup software vendor to embrace VMware's service console-free ESXi hypervisor. But its support has limitations.

On Tuesday, Vizioncore Inc., the maker of the popular vRanger Pro backup software for virtual environments, introduced...

version 3.2.8, which it claims is the first product to natively and correctly back up and restore virtual machines running on ESXi 3.5, VMware Inc.'s lightweight hypervisor. Other products, such as Veeam Backup 2.0, can back up ESXi guests, but rely on traditional ESX for restores.

But there's a catch: vRanger Pro will support only fully licensed versions of ESXi and not the free version, said Jason Mattox, the vice president for support and product management at Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Vizioncore.

That's because after 60 days, the free version of ESXi does not include VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), the transfer protocol for vRanger Pro. Upgrading ESXi to VMware Infrastructure Foundationstarts at $1,540 for a two-processor system, including support.

Supporting ESXi
Nevertheless, vRanger Pro appears to be the first commercial backup product to support ESXi, said Chris Wolf, an analyst at Midvale, Utah-based Burton Group. "A lot of vendors have had trouble with it," he said, although he said other products are forthcoming.

Interest in ESXi is growing, but so far there hasn't been a lot of large-scale adoption.
Chris Wolf,
analystBurton Group

The problem with supporting ESXi, which was announced in September 2007, is that unlike traditional VMware ESX, it does not include a Linux-based service console that third-party software providers use to run executables and scripts. To circumvent that, Vizioncore rewrote vRanger Pro to communicate with ESXi exclusively via native VMware application programming interfaces, Mattox said.

Backup is not the only software category that has thus far failed to step up to the ESXi plate. Across the board, "there's been a lot of foot dragging," said Mattox, notably on the part of server manufacturers, which have not yet rewritten their monitoring applications to support ESXi.

That's not surprising, said Burton Group's Wolf, given the complexity of the task. "The programming interface is entirely different. For a lot of vendors, it amounts to a wholesale code rewrite."

But as tools like vRanger Pro 3.2.8 emerge, it should extend the use of ESXi among enterprise-level companies, said Wolf. "Interest in ESXi is growing, but so far there hasn't been a lot of large-scale adoption," he said, largely because of the third-party support issue.

For its part, Vizioncore has begun to see more of the lightweight ESXi hypervisor deployed in the field, especially as VMware's OEM partners begin to ship systems with ESXi by default, Mattox said. Dell, for instance, is selling "quite a bit" of systems running ESXi, he said.

"ESXi is definitely the way of the future," Mattox said, if for no other reason – "because VMware is eventually going to discontinue the service console."

This story was updated Thursday afternoon with reference to Veeam backup capabilities.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Alex Barrett, News Director. And check out our Server Virtualization blog.

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