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Review: vizioncore's esxRanger Pro

Quoting from IT Week:

Vizioncore EsxRanger Pro is a Windows application for making backups of virtual machines (VMs) hosted on VMware's high-end ESX Server and managed using VMware's VirtualCenter.

EsxRanger makes hot-backups, so it can back up a running VM. The main limitation is that it puts those backups on disk storage devices, so firms that want to make backups to tape would need more tools to copy the EsxRanger backups to tape.

EsxRanger makes backups directly to any file system mounted on the ESX Server system's console operating system, including network-attached storage (NAS), storage area network (SAN) and native Linux file systems. It can also back up to the Windows file systems of the PC it is running on. EsxRanger requires a system running Windows 2000 or later that is also running Microsoft's .Net Framework 1.1 or later. We installed it under Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000 Server in less than five minutes.

EsxRanger presents a simple graphical display on the Windows system. This is used to configure the suite and set up backup jobs. It also displays a command-line equivalent that can be pasted into a batch file and used to run scheduled backup jobs.
The backup includes the VM's configuration and its virtual disk files. We tested it with a CIFs-based directory on a NAS system and with an NFS share on our Windows 2000 Server, which was provisioned using Microsoft's free Services for Unix 3.5.

We chose to compress the backup files, which resulted, for example, in a backup using 2GB of storage rather than the 2.92GB when we backed up the same VM using VMware's vmkfstools utility. EsxRanger used the Linux tar command with a compress option, so the resulting backup file could easily be decompressed on a separate ESX Server without needing EsxRanger.

We then tested our first backup by restoring it as a new VM onto the original ESX Server system. There are options to restore a VM to a new server, or with a new name, enabling EsxRanger to duplicate a VM. There are also options to create a new VM for the restored files, and to control whether the VM is powered on once it has been restored.

We restored our VM to a new LUN on the same ESX Server, and gave it a new name and made sure it would remain powered off so it would not clash with the original.
As well as restoring the virtual disk files, EsxRanger created a suitable VM and populated it with the same set of virtual hardware that had been used on the original.

EsxRanger integrates with VMware's VirtualCenter (VC) management tool, so VMs that moved to a new host using the VMotion feature can be backed up without extra work. Selecting a group of VMs to backup in EsxRanger's GUI is not possible, except where a group of VMs has been put into a VC folder.

However, we found EsxRanger's reporting module a little tricky. It did not produce an error report when the final destination file system was unavailable, and it did not report a failure when three of four VMs in a folder were not backed up.

Check out the original article and the reviewer's final verdict, here.


Published Wednesday, May 10, 2006 3:04 PM by David Marshall
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