vRanger Pro Data Protection Platform (DPP) 4.1 from Vizioncore can do image-level backup and restore for all guest operating systems supported in VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3.x and vSphere 4, as well as file-level recovery for Microsoft Windows guest operating systems.
If you are a Windows shop, this means that you don't need a separate backup solution to handle file restores. Microsoft Windows guests can also take advantage of vRanger Pro's support for the Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), making it possible to take quiesced backups of applications and databases.
Backup options include a full image backup, or incremental or differential backups which speed operations significantly. vRanger Pro deduplicates the backup streams so only the data that needs to be sent gets sent, which also speeds backups, restores and reduces load on the backup target systems.
Like most virtualization server backup products, you can customize the number of revisions to save. Backups are stored in, what Vizioncore dubs, "repositories," which can either be a CIFS share on a Microsoft Windows host or any other host running software such as Samba, or on a host that supports SFTP.
With ESX, vRanger Pro DPP interacts with the hosts via SSH to the console operating system and, as such, does not support VMware ESXi. While it does not require VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), you will need remote root access via SSH, which is not enabled by default and may be a security concern. vRanger Pro only supports the VMware ESX English language character sets, which might pose a problem for international users.
Unfortunately, Vizioncore vRanger Pro does not offer explicit replication capabilities to remote sites for disaster recover and business continuity. For this you would need to purchase Vizioncore's vReplicator, which is licensed separately.
To install vRanger Pro, you will need a Microsoft Windows server license, but the vRanger Pro data protection platform can exist within a virtual machine. It also requires Microsoft SQL Server, either 2005 or 2008, but ships with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express and will install that if you need a database server.
The installation process itself is straightforward. Vizioncore maintains excellent documentation which includes both the fully automated install instructions and the completely manual installation instructions, in case you need to know more about certain parts of the installation (database configuration, for example). The interface for configuring and managing vRanger Pro is a separate application and does not integrate with the vSphere client, but is easy to use for both backup setup and restore operations.
vRanger Pro DPP 4.1 is licensed per VMware ESX CPU socket, with additional ongoing contracts for access to software upgrades and support.
About the expert: Bob Plankers is the lead Linux and VMware systems engineer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Plankers has 14 years of experience in IT, and he also runs The Lone Sysadmin blog.