VM Explorer is a software that has been developing by the Swiss Trilead since 2007 and count more than 10.000 worldwide clients. This number is going to increase, mostly considering the growing authority gained after the recent acquisition by HPE, as Roberto Beneduci of CoreTech, the historic distributor of the brand in Italy, confirmed: “With respect of the same period in 2015, in the first three months of 2016, the number of VM Explorer licenses sold has more than doubled.”
A well justified acquisition
HPE already had an Enterprise tier backup software, the HPE Data Protector Suite and has, with its server, 60% of the VMware OEM market. With VM Explorer HPE can offer its clients an easy, robust and cheap solution, uniquely dedicated to the backup of virtual systems, very different from Data Protector, which is a solution addressed to a different client tier (infrastructures with thousands of VMs). With this move HPE can now offer all its clients of the Small and Medium Business tier (<100 VMs) a less complicated offer and, under certain aspects, more appealing that the widespread solution by Veeam.
Editions and prices
VM Explorer is available in 3 different versions: Free, Pro and Enterprise. Licensing model is now per socket based: a Pro license covers 4 sockets and the Enterprise license arrives to 6 sockets. Each single socket is obviously thought as physical processor, therefore a Pro license allows the backup of 4 VMware or Hyper-V hosts with 1 physical CPU each, or 2 hosts with 2 physical CPUs.
License cost is, respectively, 729 euro for the Pro version (182,25 euro/socket) and 1874 euro for the Enterprise version (312,33 euro/socket), including 1 year of updates and technical support by HP (9x5 coverage). Additional sockets can be added to the Pro license and to the Enterprise license without any limitation: this opportunity is often avoided by competing products which oblige the client to purchase a superior license, with an increase in costs. As a comparison, for instance, the Backup Essential license by Veeam covers up to 6 sockets, and the license cost start at 400 euro/socket up to 1100 euro/socket for the Enterprise version.
There are no limits on the total number of VMs that can be managed and the server where VM Explorer is installed doesn’t count in terms of socket count. An important change, due to the acquisition by part of HPE, is the new renewal cost of VM Explorer which has lowered from 70% to less than 20% of the purchase price.
VM Explorer integrates in a single software the support for VMware ESX/ESXi (including ESXi free) and Microsoft Hyper-V. Hosts based on VMware vSphere (paid or free version) and hosts based on Microsoft Hyper-V can be linked to the same license. Those who use both platforms, even with different clients, can so adopt this solution, also saving time not spent learning the interface and how to use two different products.
VM Explorer: a tool for everybody
Installing VM Explorer is very quick and it’s done in a few minutes. The installation file takes a few tens of MBs and VM Explorer can be installed on any machine with a Windows operating system with .NET Framework 4.0. No dedicated machine is required, VM Explorer can be installed onto any Windows Server of your own infrastructure. To further confirm the ease of use, VM Explorer doesn’t require any agent to be installed on VMs. The software can be used with its traditional Windows-based interface (which is now considered obsolete) or with the modern and comfortable Web interface: the same features are available with both clients, but only the Web client will be constantly supported by HPE.
Complete and flexible backup destination
Backup destination is complete and evolving, soon it will embrace all other HPE technologies; VM Explorer supports different backup targets such as:
- Local Storage (Directly Attached)
- NFS/CIFS (FreeBSD, Linux)
- NAS and SAN
- ESX Server
A public Cloud storage can be used too, like Amazon S3, HP Cloud, OpenStack, Rackspace, and a private Cloud can be used as well, perhaps creating a private OpenStack Object Storage Cloud. As we said, the acquisition by HPE will bring news, for instance like the support for HPE
Storages (StoreOnce NAS and StoreOnce VTL). The support for StoreOnce Catalyst, 3PAR and StoreVirtual will follow. At the moment the only SAN that is natively supported by VM Explorer is Scale IO by EMC.
Incremental backups and dynamic compression
If inside the infrastructure WAN networks are present (for instance, wide-area replication), or if you’d like to use less space on the target system, then backups can be dynamically compressed. VM Explorer supports VMware’s Changed Block Tracking (CBT) technology to create incremental backups. A restore can be performed from any version in the backup history. To do that, the software leverages VMware’s Virtual Disk Development Kit which must be downloaded and enabled to optimize the product’s performances. VM Explorer can automatically test a backup to verify that a VM properly boots: an essential feature to guarantee a proper system functioning. If Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy can’t create a consistent volume for backups, an error notification system can be enabled to warn us, thus preventing problems related to suspended writings.
Replication and file level restore
VM Explorer includes replication capabilities (point in time replication) to replicate any VM on another host: an essential feature that guarantees Disaster Recovery features. Thanks to this feature, a virtual machine is automatically registered on the backup server and is ready to boot. If Changed Block Tracking (CBT) is enabled, VM Explorer will replicate only the changes happened towards the new target host. VM Explorer offers an integrated “file level restore” feature which allows to restore files from any backup (FAT, NTFS, EXT, LVM and LDM) without restoring the entire backup. Restoring a single SQL or Exchange element is not supported.
Quick server to server copy
VM Explorer allows to copy files and perform backups at the greatest speed directly from ESX, ESXi, Hyper-V, Linux and FreeBSD servers. The only slowing factor could be the available bandwidth and disks’ speed. It can hook up any Linux or FreeBSD machine and use as backup target.
Relying on a detailed report on the results of backups is very important, and VM Explorer can send an email notification with all the available information on performed backups. Such reports can be consulted and exported at any given time.
A list of features available with the different versions follows:
- Instant VM Recovery (IVMR)1) 2)
- vMotion support from IVMR 1) 2)
- Cloud File Level Restore Cloud
- Automated check of Cloud backups 1)
- Multi user interface and integration with Active Directory
- vSAN support
- Encrypted backups
- Snapshots Storage for ScaleIO
Pro Edition and Enterprise Edition
- Complete management from Web interface (EN, IT, DE)
- Backups and incremental backups for ESX/ESXi, ESXi free and Hyper-V
- Replication and incremental replication for ESX/ESXi, ESXi free 3) and Hyper-V
- Tape backups
- Automated backup check
- File system coherence check
- Heartbeats check
- Backups on public and private Clouds (Amazon S3, Rackspace, OpenStack, HP Cloud)
- Support for vCenter and Hyper-V clusters
- Application consistent backups with VSS 4)
- File Level Restore (LVM, LDM, FAT, NTFS and EXT partitions)
- Email notifications
2) Local backups
3) Incremental replication is not available for ESXi free edition
4) For ESX/ESXi, VMware Tools must be installed in the guest OS of the VM (with VSS option enabled)