The world of VM backups just got a little ray of sunshine. One of the biggest hits on my website continues to be my extensive list of free tools and very soon I get to add another to the list. Unitrends is releasing Unitrends Free (currently in Beta). This is of course a free version of their Unitrends Enterprise Backup Software. Are there limitations, sure, but they are relatively light.
- It's Free!
- This isn't really a limitation, other than your credit card spending limit. But really, using a product for free gives you the opportunity to really put it to use for an extended period of time. We all like to test things out for much longer than 30 days before we bet the business on it. So even if you are a SMB or a full blown enterprise, you can benefit from using free tools. If you happen to splurge for the Enterprise version after using the full version, you can migrate your backups over. Pretty useful.
- Upgraded UI
- I have to admit, it's very easy to use. I also like how Unitrends is looking for feedback on their UI as well. A key principal to UX design is understanding your users. You can't make it much better if the everyday users of your product are giving direct feedback.
- VMware & Hyper-V
- I bet you Hyper-V shops are pretty upset about having multiple backup products. Unitrends Free can take care of both.
- Automated Deployments
- Deploys as a Linux‐based VMware or Hyper‐V virtual machine. The appliance performs hypervisor‐level backups of the virtual machines you choose to protect.
- Protect up to 1 TB of unique VM data, with no limits on the number of VMs you can protect and no constraints on the number of sockets. You get 500GB out of the box, and you'll get a 500GB extension when you sign up for the Unitrends Community Forum.
- Free Support
- It's not stackoverflow, but Unitrends Community Forum will be the place you get answers. You even see a box with new topics in the dashboard UI.
Before we peek into it... If you sign up and test drive Unitrends Free, you are entered into a sweepstakes for $1500. Offer valid from May12th to June 30th 2015. If you want to download it without entering, get it at Unitrends Free™ (Beta) Download.
Let's look at a quick walkthrough...
The deployment of the backup appliance requires you to execute it from a Windows server. Interesting tactic, but in a pure linux shop it might be a PITA. It's a simple "click next" deployment model. Enter in the DNS or IP of your vCenter server along with your creds.
Then supply a name for the appliance and what datastore it will live on
Next supply a bit of networking information
Then choose how much direct attached space. If you have 2TB free, then attach 2TB. Choose which datastore to carve this out from
Sit back and relax
After it's deployed, follow the link to open up the web interface. There will be a small subset of questions to answer such as timezone settings but once that is done log in with the root credentials you supplied
A nice little dialogue pops up on our first time logging in to give us a product tour or to go ahead and start discovering resources
We need to register a host, so go ahead and enter your credentials for vCenter, ESXi, or Hyper-V. This DOES NOT work with the free version of ESXi
After you have configured everything, the dashboard really starts to light up... but lets look at configuring some backup pieces as well
We can create a new backup job by selecting the VMs into the inventory
Then we have to select if we want full or incremental and if we want to just run it once or put it on a schedule
We can view the jobs in the Job Manager tab to see their current status
When we begin a job, we can see the progress from the Active Jobs tab. This picture doesn't show but it has nice progress indicators.
One thing that stood out was this "Cloud Storage" section. The cloud storage allows you to copy your locally attached backups offsite to 3rd party cloud providers. This is called a "Backup Copy"
You have the ability to choose between Google Cloud or Google Nearline or AWS S3. I would like to see AWS Glacier personally because it's super cheap.
To use the cloud storage, you create a new copy backup job that will send either the fulls or fulls and incrementals off to the 3rd party of your choosing one a one-time or scheduled basis
From the inventory pane, we can see clearly the VMs that are backing up on a scheduled basis and if everything is looking ok. From this pane we can also bring up logs for each machine and back up to see if there were ever any issues.
The recovery process is pretty standard and we've all grown accustom to it. We can choose a VM and drill down into a specific backup. From that backup we can choose to recover that virtual machine entirely or recover individual files. One thing that is unique is if you have your backup copies at a 3rd party cloud provider, you can click the "Import to Source" button to bring that back up locally and then recover from it.
Lastly, there are some nice reports and graphs you can use to show your boss everything is OK!
To sum it up, I really like the new UI/UX design that Unitrends is bringing to market in Unitrends Free. You can look forward to seeing this new web-based UI in future versions of the Enterprise edition.
If you sign up and test drive Unitrends Free, you are entered into a sweepstakes for $1500. Offer valid from May12th to June 30th 2015.