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Hyper-V shops gain new backup option in Veeam

Established backup vendor Veeam will support Hyper-V. Users see the move as a sign that Microsoft’s virtualization platform has gained traction against VMware.

ATLANTA -- Microsoft Hyper-V shops have new backup software to choose from.

In an update due out in the fourth quarter of 2011, Veeam Software Inc.'s Backup and Replication will support Hyper-V, according to an announcement at Microsoft's TechEd conference this morning.

It's a sign that Hyper-V has gained attention in data centers.

Hyper-V users hungry for additional software that supports the platform take this as a sign that the virtualization platform is gaining traction as it competes with VMware vSphere.

"Veeam is an established company that's been around for a long time in the virtualization space," said Rob McShinsky, a senior systems engineer at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. "This shows me that [Veeam is] looking at market opportunities, and they're taking Hyper-V as something that's going to be around for a while. … It's just a good sign."

McShinsky currently runs an entirely Hyper-V virtualized environment and uses Microsoft's System Center Data Protection Manager 2010 for Hyper-V backups, but said he's always on the lookout for more options. "You see a lot of startups coming into or only going into the Hyper-V realm, but we've seen [fewer companies] actually starting with VMware and then getting into Hyper-V [support]."

Veeam claims more than 20,000 enterprises use its Backup and Replication product, which until now has supported only VMware's ESX backup. Leaked on Twitter following a private briefing of EMEA partners on the announcement, the news about Veeam's pending Hyper-V support caused a stir.

Features abound: Change block tracking, deduplication

As the name suggests, Veeam's product performs data backup and replication in the same product, and will be able to back up VMware and Hyper-V guests from the same console, according to Doug Hazelman, senior director of product strategy at Veeam.

Veeam's Hyper-V support will also include features that require application programming interface (API) development in VMware environments. Backup and Replication, for example, will perform hardware-assisted snapshots out of the box, a feature that became available in VMware environments only last year with the release of the VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration (VAAI). "For VMFS, you need API access or go through a host," Hazelman said. "NTFS [New Technology File System] makes it easier for us to read volumes directly from the storage."

Change Block Tracking (CBT), a feature VMware provides at the virtual machine (VM) layer through the vSphere 4.x vStorage APIs for Data Protection, isn't offered natively with Hyper-V. So Veeam has created its own version of CBT using a file sync driver on the Hyper-V host. Tracked changes are not lost during live migration, though how this process works is part of Veeam's "secret sauce," Hazelman said.

Veeam Backup and Replication also offers data deduplication and compression at the software level, an increasingly popular trend among data deduplication products.

McShinsky said he'd also like to see Hyper-V support extended to Veeam's monitoring tools, but Veeam officials said through a spokesperson that there are no current plans to offer that.

ISVs react to changing landscape

Backup players that were around before virtualization -- including Symantec, CommVault, EMC, and IBM -- have already begun offering support for heterogeneous virtualization platforms on top of support for physical servers, said Lauren Whitehouse, a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) in Milford, Mass. "The laggards have been the vendors that are virtualization-only," she said.

But Whitehouse affirmed that, as smaller companies turn their eye toward supporting Hyper-V, it's a sign that the product has gained attention in data centers and provides more of a market opportunity for companies with tighter R&D budgets. "Smaller vendors are much more focused on R&D dollars and at first chose to focus that on the VMware opportunity," Whitehouse said. "Now they're starting to catch up and be more applicable to more audiences."

Other virtualization-focused ISVs are also beginning to support non-VMware environments. PHD Virtual's backup software supports CitrixSystems Inc.'s XenServer in addition to VMware, while Quest Software Inc.'s vRanger will support physical servers and backup to disk and tape with the integration of IP from BakBone Software. VKernel, meanwhile, supports Hyper-V with its monitoring tools. According to recent ESG research, VMware is still the primary hypervisor choice for more than 50% of surveyed users, but Microsoft is the "next most dominant" with about 25% of IT decision makers having deployed it.

When it comes to Veeam, Whitehouse said CBT and deduplication are "gotta have" features for virtualization environments. "Veeam definitely has a handle on the inefficiencies that exist [in advanced virtualization environments] and how to optimize them."

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for Write to her at

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