Updates to VMware's vSphere Data Protection Advanced this week improves scalability and efficiency, but also puts VMware in direct competition with its virtualization software partners -- again.
The new vSphere Data Protection (VDP) 5.5 product uses EMC Corp.'s Avamar technology to achieve deduplicated backups of virtual machines. With Avamar technology as the foundation for vSphere Data Protection, the tool is likely to gain some early followers.
New features, such as automated backup verification, also challenge established third-party backup tools, IT pros said.
Trevor Pottsystems administrator and IT consultant, eGeek Consulting
"I think it gives them a huge jump in the market," said Brian Kirsch, VMware User Group Board of Directors member. "Any 1.0 release can be touchy. The Avamar technology they're leveraging is not a 1.0 release, it's a mature product."
VMware first introduced vSphere Data Protection Advanced in March 2013, giving it a 5.1 release designation to match vSphere. VMware Data Recovery, the precursor to VDP, launched in 2009 and collected several unfavorable reviews.
While most IT pros agree the newest release of VDP Advanced is robust enough as a backup product for small and medium-sized businesses, reaction to the product was generally mixed.
"My initial reaction [to the release] is 'why?'" said Scott Gottesman, VMware guru at Velocity Technology Solutions Inc., a cloud application service provider headquartered in New York. "They're cutting into their own ecosystem. They're cutting into a bunch of companies that are helping them make money."
VDP 5.5 vs. Veeam
VMware VDP 5.5 appears to be a direct challenge to partners that offer virtual backup management tools, such as Veeam Software and PHD Virtual Technologies, Gottesman said.
"This is a shot across Veeam's bow," he said. "The troubling thing is VMware has done this before."
VMware wrestled customers away from third-party log analytics and performance dashboard products (such as Splunk and Dell's Foglight) when it revealed its roadmap for vCenter Log Insight and vCenter Operations Manager at VMworld in August. Its persona management feature in VMware View steps on profile management partners' toes, vSAN may compete with products from partners such as Nutanix or SimpliVity, and VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service will compete with cloud partners.
"[VMware] said they weren't going to get into the cloud business," Gottesman said. "Now, partners like us, who are cloud providers, are standing here wondering what the heck they're doing. It's concerning, but at the same time it ups everyone's game. VDP is a great product and raises the bar for every other backup product."
For the most part, IT pros expect to benefit from the increased competition in the form of better features and aggressive pricing.
"Competition drives innovation, and VMware is known for actually doing that," said Christian Mohn, senior consultant with Norway-based Evry Consulting.
But others have a more cynical view of VMware releasing management tools that compete with products from existing partners.
"VMware has become an ecosystem vampire. It has lost the ability to innovate internally and can only survive by trying to steal good ideas from its so-called partners," said Trevor Pott, systems administrator and IT consultant at eGeek Consulting in Edmonton, Alberta. "Good luck with that. At end of day, the thing that holds VMware together is the community."
VMware did not provide a specific release date for vSphere Data Protection Advanced 5.5, but said it should be generally available before the end of 2013. VMware offers a free version of the product, vSphere Data Protection, but it lacks many of the features available in Advanced 5.5, which will cost $1,095 per processor.
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