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Quest rolls out vRanger Standard as beta testers look elsewhere

VRanger Standard 5.0, announced at VMworld Europe 2010, has a lower price and limited to 10 CPUs, It also lack integrated replication that's coming to vRanger Pro 5.0 in November.

There's a new version of Quest Software's vRanger, the granddaddy of virtual machine (VM) backup software, and...

it's targeted at smaller VMware shops. But beta testers of the upcoming vRanger Pro 5.0 say they are holding out for the more advanced version, while others say the product hasn't kept up with the competition and are setting their sights on competitors like Veeam and Symantec.

The vRanger product line was originally made by Vizioncore, which was acquired by Quest in 2008. The new vRanger Standard version is limited to 10-CPU environments and costs $399 per CPU; at this price, vRanger Standard is billed by Quest as "ideal for SMBs."

Pricing for vRanger Pro is slightly higher at $499 per CPU, but pricing for version 5.0 will be available in November when both releases become generally available, according to Marc Stitt, director of product marketing for Quest.

At VMworld Europe 2010, Quest announced new features for vRanger Standard, such as distributed processing (rather than having all backups go through a central server), the ability to recover multiple VMs at the same time (as opposed to going through the recovery wizard separately each time), and a new wizard that offers granular restore capabilities at the file, database and guest system level. Beta testers for vRanger Pro 5.0 anticipate those features will appear in the Pro release, as well.

"The code base is the same," confirmed Stitt. "But [Standard] removes some of the more enterprise features to make pricing more amenable [to SMBs]."

Stitt estimated that 60% to 65% of Quest's vRanger customers fit into the 10-CPU size range, something channel partners agree with. "Most people using vRanger are under 10 sockets -- six to eight CPUs is predominant among people using vRanger," said Francis Czekalski, senior solutions architect for GreenPages Technology Solutions in Kittery, Maine.

VRanger Pro's built-in replication: the big difference and selling point
Czekalski, a vRanger Pro 5.0 beta tester, says he's more interested in Pro edition features that weren't mentioned in the vRanger Standard announcement, including integration between Vizioncore's vRanger image-backup software and vReplicator replication tool.

"In my honest, blunt opinion, though I like vRanger, what I'm seeing testing version 5 in beta is really what I wanted to see in version 4.5 when it was released," he said. VRanger Pro 5.0 will also allow targets for backup, including Network File System, Secure File Transfer Protocol, and File Transfer Protocol; "not just [Common Internet File System]."

These features are also what appeal most to beta tester Andrew Gahm, systems and security engineer for South Jersey Healthcare, particularly the integration with vReplicator. The product consolidation eases management of different types of data-protection methods, such as image backups, snapshots and replication. It has Gahm reevaluating the need for networked storage at his disaster-recovery location. "We're looking at replacing our SAN structure with replication [through vRanger] for critical servers."

The vRanger vs. Veeam dogfight continues
Quest and its rival Veeam have already had a public spat over similar features in their upcoming releases that offer instantaneous recovery of virtual machines from a backup image. Quest's version, FlashRestore, is due out with vRanger Pro 5.0.

Veeam was also not to be outdone for SMB backup, issuing its own announcement at VMworld Europe 2010 that users of its Essentials license, a bundle of virtual server management tools, are eligible for a free upgrade to Essentials Plus, which also includes Veeam's Backup and Replication product.

But some mutual channel partners see users moving away from vRanger. "We've seen vRanger almost completely disappear at our clients, and most are using Veeam at this point," said one value-added reseller in the Northeast. "The only clients who are still using vRanger are those who bought it years ago and haven't had any upgrades."

According to Shannon Snowden, a manager of delivery services at consulting firm New Age Technologies in Louisville, Ky., "We do have clients that are using vRanger. I'm sure the new features will help keep them from looking elsewhere. It was important for Quest to offer these new capabilities considering [that] the competition is becoming very feature-rich. "

New software versions from incumbent vendors like Symantec Corp. are also luring users away from vRanger. Adam Baum, IT architect for the City of Mesa, Ariz., said he grew frustrated with vRanger's development over the past four years. The product worked well, but the arrival of new features has been too slow for Baum's liking, and with physical servers to protect, he planned to standardize on Symantec Corp.'s NetBackup 7.

"About six months after getting up and running, I sent in a feature request list to Vizioncore on features needed to make the product truly Enterprise ready," he said. "I'm still waiting for them to be developed."

He will evaluate vRanger Pro 5.0, he said, but "too many times, features in betas get pulled from the released product, and I've felt like the proverbial groom left at the altar."

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com.

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