VMware VADP and vSphere Data Protection FAQs

Meredith Courtemanche

VMware vSphere 5.1 administrators can choose between vSphere Data Protection and a third-party backup tool -- both communicate with VMware vStorage API for Data Protection. Get answers to frequently asked questions about VMware VADP and VDP before implementing backup tools.

VMware Consolidated Backup went out of style in VMware vSphere after version 4.1. Its successor, VMware Data Recovery, was plagued by limitations, spurring VMware to release vSphere Data Protection (VDP) with vSphere 5.1. Whether you choose VDP or another backup tool, they'll communicate via VMware vStorage API for Data Protection (VADP).

What is VMware's vSphere 5.1 VADP?

VMware VADP backs up and restores vSphere virtual machines (VMs) with a feature set beyond its outmoded VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) predecessor:

  • Single-step copy from source to target
  • Change block tracking (CBT)
  • Volume Shadow Copy Service quiescing for MS Windows 2008 and 2008 R2
  • File-level backup and restore support for Linux guest OSes
  • Built-in VM image restore without VMware Converter.

VADP is one of several VMware vStorage APIs, which are subAPI software sets that help hardware and software vendors integrate their products with VMware's vSphere tool set.

Will VADP backup require the same storage resources as VCB?

With VCB, a proxy server connected the backup software to the VMware virtual machine file system LUNs. Snapshots of VM disk images went to the proxy, which minimized the performance impact of backing up VMs but drained storage resources.

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VMware VADP enables agentless backup with virtual proxies. Each ESXi host uses as many virtual proxies as needed. VADP sends VM snapshots to storage, as did VCB, but CBT enables it to only store blocks that have changed since the last snapshot. The backups go through the most available proxy without worrying about which proxy is assigned to which host.

Will backups take less time than they did with VCB?

Changed Block Tracking reduces the amount of data copied during backup by over 99%. It is conceptually similar to snapshot differential, backup delta block and incremental backup. By identifying the blocks that have changed since the last backup -- typically 0.5% to 1% of the average server application's data -- it reduces the workload for the third-party backup or data protection software.

Do I need third-party backup software with VADP?

The VMware VDP appliance that deployed in vSphere 5.1 is completely integrated into vCenter Server. Because it offers agentless, disk-based VM backup to deduplicated storage, you do not need a backup software agent in every VM to perform VM- and file-level restores. If you use VDP, you'll manage it through the vSphere Web client. One vCenter Server instance can support backup and restore for as many as 1,000 VMs through VDP.

What are my third-party backup options?

VMware used parent company EMC Corp.'s Avamar backup software as the engine for vSphere Data Protection, but any backup software that supports vStorage APIs can work with VADP. Third-party vendors include Veeam Software, Arkeia Software, CA, IBM, EMC, Quest Software Inc., Symantec Corp., Vizioncore Inc., CommVault Systems Inc. and PHD Virtual Technologies.

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