Altaro readies Hyper-V backup tool for small businesses

Altaro Hyper-V Backup for home office and small business users will include a freeware version that supports up to three VMs on a single host

It's nothing new to say that virtualization is booming due to the flexibility, efficiency, and savings it provides. It remains a growing market even with a down economy, and the more it grows, the more companies will be looking for solutions to help protect and manage their virtual environments.

That's where Altaro Software comes in. The technology startup recognizes the need to develop easy-to-use and innovative backup software that goes beyond traditional backup functionality, and specializes in backing up data for small offices and home offices and small to midsize businesses. The company currently sells its OopsBackup software to home users and its Backup FS product to professional PC users and small businesses. Now Altaro is jumping into the Microsoft Hyper-V ecosystem; its first entry into the virtualization market is a product aptly called Altaro Hyper-V Backup.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Find out why Veeam has added backup and replication support for Microsoft Hyper-V. | Read about how VKernel has expanded its performance and capacity management software to Microsoft Hyper-V. | Keep up-to-date on virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter. ]

Altaro Hyper-V Backup works on Windows Server 2008 R2 (all editions), Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and Windows Hyper-V Server R2 (core installation), and it should be installed on the Hyper-V host server and not within the guests themselves.

In spite of the fact that VMware still maintains the lion's share of the server virtualization market, Altaro says it has no intentions of supporting another virtualization hypervisor beyond Microsoft Hyper-V and will focus all of its attention on creating the best and easiest-to-use product on the market for Hyper-V virtualization backup. The company believes that in the long run, Microsoft Hyper-V will be the virtualization leader in the SMB space that Altaro is focused on.

Altaro Hyper-V Backup is designed to take the guesswork out of backing up Hyper-V environments, while at the same time being easy to use and quick to configure. Although the company is focusing on the home office and small business markets, it still plans to offer quite a bit of innovative technology, such as restoring VMs as clones, Microsoft Cluster CSV support, backing up live VMs without stopping them, and restoring VMs to different Hyper-V hosts -- all on an agentless basis.

Current features of the product include:

  • Hyper-V-aware: Users don't have to know which virtual hard disks (VHDs) and associated files make up a virtual machine; the administrator is given a list of VMs which can be selected to easily initiate the backup procedure.
  • Supports Microsoft Hyper-V Server (Core): Cost-effective; works with the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server (Core).
  • File-level restore: Mount backed-up VHDs and restore files without having to restore an entire virtual machine.
  • Backup schedules: Set different backup schedules for different VMs.
  • Back up Hyper-V snapshots: In addition to full VHDs, you can back up the snapshots of the VMs.
  • Hot backups with Microsoft VSS integration: Back up live VMs with no downtime by using the Microsoft VSS Hyper-V Writer.
  • ReverseDelta incremental backup: Only back up the actual changes made to a file, without needing to back up the entire file every time you make a change, which should also help speed up the restore process.

Altaro founder and CEO David Vella told InfoWorld:

In one extreme, there were companies that claimed they could back up Hyper-V virtual machines, but their methodology was far too simplistic. For them, backing up a VM was simply a matter of storing a VHD file, which is only a very small part of properly backing up a VM. These solutions, although priced within SMB budgets, expected the administrator to understand all the various files that constitute a Hyper-V virtual machine and then back them all up as if they were independent files. In addition, some of these solutions lacked proper integration with Microsoft VSS technology.

At the other end, we found bulky, expensive, backup solutions which although did the job of backing up all the correct files, were very complex to configure and expected the administrator to spend a considerable amount of time learning how the backup solution itself worked. This, in itself, defeated the entire purpose: that a backup solution is meant to save you time, money and headaches.

With these two extremes in mind, Vella says it recognized a huge unfilled gap in the market, where there was no easy-to-use backup solution that came at an affordable price. The company decided to use its expertise to develop a solution that was, firstly, fully VM-aware and therefore did not require the admin to know all the intricacies of Hyper-V itself, and secondly, was extremely straightforward and quick-to-use and configure.

The product is still in beta; however, Altaro expects it to ship sometime this month. The company expects to launch three editions of its Hyper-V Backup product. The first will be a freeware version that supports up to three VMs on a single host. The second is the Standard version that should provide support for up to five or six VMs. And the third will be an unlimited license with added support for cluster-shared volumes. Pricing has yet to be determined.

This article, "Altaro readies Hyper-V backup solution for small businesses," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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