VMware backup for ESXi free

I've been doing some digging for a client. I've got him started on the ESXi free path for his small VoIP company, and he loves it. I had always figured that for backup we would just set him up with VCB (even though I've had awful past experience with it, it's a free option), or more to the point, GhettoVCB.

I checked out the FAQs for GhettoVCB more closely today, and it seems you must have the licensed version in order to access the APIs that VCB uses. Fair enough, an Essentials pack is cheap enough, and he and I have discussed it in the past. He is amenable to buying the base pack - he would never need more than two host machines anyways.

Another issue crops up: VCB is EOL as of 4.1. Going forward, it is all vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP). This is a nicer solution than VCB, but it seems that right now the only options in the VADP area are 3rd party paid software. For someone who wants to do everything cheap and open-source, this will not be a good option.

Looking into what other options we have, I think it's down to something like this:

Option 1
  • Have a really good backup system inside the guest OSes.
  • Have a really good host rollout solution (unfortunately BSD does not have a kickstart solution)
This means that if a guest VM goes down (irrecoverable), your data is backed up, and it's easy to roll out a replacement.

Pros: No software costs at all.

Cons: Built-in resiliency is a must. This means all critical systems must have a primary and secondary. Any VM that crashes must be rebuilt by hand from backup data.

Option 2

  • GhettoVCB
GhettoVCB configured to suit environment.

Pros: Pre-configured backup solution that is widely used by the VMware community. Allows VM backup/restore, so if a VM crashes, you do not have to rebuild by hand.

Cons: In order for VCB to function, the Essentials pack must be purchased to unlock the VCB APIs.

Option 3
  • VADP 3rd party
Solution provided by 3rd party.

Pros: Ease of use, reliable, supported by large companies.

Cons: High cost. Requires Essentials pack, plus 3rd party software (unknown cost).

I think we'll have to re-visit things. If he's not ready to purchase Essentials yet, then we will have to make do with system backups.


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