Rollout: Vizioncore Rides To The Rescue Of Overburdened VMs - InformationWeek

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1/30/2008
06:15 PM
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Rollout: Vizioncore Rides To The Rescue Of Overburdened VMs

By easing the strain of virtual machine backups, vRanger Pro saves time and processing power in ESX clusters.

INNER WORKINGS

The vRanger Pro software can back up to NTFS, Linux, and VMware's VMFS. Backing up to a VMFS LUN, shared among your ESX cluster hosts, has a distinct advantage in that VM backups will exist on the file system that can serve them up, giving you the option of backing up to an off-site ESX cluster. Just create a "new" virtual machine, point to the newly created backup image, and fire it up.

This isn't optimal, though, if you want to direct backups to an enterprise storage management system. The other two options, Linux and NTFS, are better choices here.

While intuitive, vRanger's interface forced us into a preset workflow to build a backup job: backup selection, backup destination, and backup options--in that order. This may be a problem if you have a cluster of several hundred VMs; we'd prefer to see the operation in reverse: Establish settings and a permanent backup destination, then select VMs. We'd also like the ability to save and edit settings.

One compelling feature is the CLI compilation at the bottom of the main application window. As you build your backup set, the CLI assembles syntax, which can be copied when complete. In observing the CLI construction, you'll see how your backup commands and schedules are compiled; learn this syntax and you could hammer out backup commands at the CLI and bypass the GUI altogether.

Unfortunately, vRanger's backup settings are valid only during the current session, and once you've scheduled a backup, there's no way to review that schedule inside the application. To make modifications you'll need to visit the Windows Task Scheduler and have the scripting syntax down pat, lest you foul up the job. The only other option is to reschedule entirely--the job can't be loaded back into vRanger for editing. This is an inefficient process at best, particularly for organizations that manage a multitude of schedules over a large set of VMs. Vizioncore says it plans a service-based implementation and an improved scheduling mechanism within a few months.

When you schedule your virtual machine backups, you'll be limited to three options: all machines, one machine, or machines in a folder. Your best bet? Divvy up your VMs into folders in VirtualCenter. Again, some additional flexibility here would go a long way to improving the product's usability.

SPEEDY DELIVERY

Our tests substantiate Vizioncore's claims of fast VM backups. We achieved 67 Mbps--that's 240 Gb per hour--in a LAN-free backup scenario over a 2-GB Fibre Channel backbone. You'll need to use VCB for high-speed backups. We didn't test vRanger without the VCB, but interpolating our results against Vizioncore's statistics, we anticipate a rate of 93.6 Gb per hour. Not a speed you'd want to live with long term.

Bottom line, vRanger's application interface flow, inability to preserve settings, and lack of a Windows service on which to operate will hinder it in enterprise data centers. If you can master the CLI you can effectively eliminate the GUI, but most folks won't go this route. That makes improving the interface all the more imperative.

And because vRanger was so fast in our backup tests, we found ourselves wanting the interface to be so much more. Vizioncore says vRanger is in use in some very large organizations, but based on our tests, those with a few hundred VMs or more may want to wait for a better management interface.

A vRanger Pro license is priced at $499, and you'll need one license per CPU socket per ESX host.,/p>

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