Altaro made a name for itself by providing businesses and managed service providers (MSPs) with an intuitive experience for backing up both Microsoft Hyper-V and VMware vSphere virtual machines (VMs).

Timothy Warner

Timothy Warner is a Microsoft Cloud and Datacenter Management Most Valuable Professional (MVP) who is based in Nashville, TN. Check out his Azure and Windows Server video training at Pluralsight, and feel free to reach out to Tim via Twitter.

Altaro released version 7 of their Altaro VM Backup product in January 2017, and today I'd like to tell you about its abundant new features.

If you want general background on Altaro VM Backup, then please take a moment to the two previous product reviews I've written for 4sysops:

Windows Server 2016 support ^

Altaro VM Backup 7 now supports Windows Server 2016, both to host the VM Backup software as well as for the product to back up Windows Server 2016 VMs. Note that according to the system requirements,  Altaro VM Backup supports the following hypervisor versions:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 (Server Core installation)
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 (Server Core installation)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 (Server Core installation)
  • Windows Server 2016 (Desktop Experience or Server Core installation)
  • Windows Hyper-V Server 2016

Speaking of the management console, Altaro has evolved the already solid UI to make its performance snappier and navigation even easier. I show you a screenshot in the next figure.

Altaro VM Backup console

Altaro VM Backup console

Augmented inline deduplication ^

Let's imagine that your Hyper-V host runs 22 Windows Server VMs. That means your storage subsystem contains at least 22 virtual hard disk files. Each of those VHDs, in turn, contains largely the same files, right?

Deduplication is absolutely essential for taking VM backups because it is a waste of storage, bandwidth, time, and cost to back up redundant data. Altaro VM Backup boasts an industry leading deduplication engine, and it's gotten even better in version 7.

Altaro calls their deduplication engine Augmented Inline Deduplication. The idea is that the more compactly Altaro VM Backup can store your VM backups, the faster both backup and restore operations become simply because there are fewer bits to transfer.

The innovation in Augmented Inline Deduplication is that it doesn’t make use of post processing for inline deduplication to run. Inline deduplication will be done in real time across all virtual machines to the backup location. You don’t need to take extra care of grouping VMs where you want inline deduplication to run. Altaro will take care of that.

Along performance lines, Altaro VM Backup v7 includes faster data compression algorithms that boost backup speed and lowers CPU load during backup processes.

Boot from backup ^

Wow, boot from backup is an awesome new feature. First let me show you the interface, and then I'll explain what boot from backup offers you:

Boot from backup configuration

Boot from backup configuration

Historically, I tend to get nervous after taking a VM backup that the backup is, indeed, valid. The Verification Mode boot form backup option allows you to quickly start a backed-up VM expressly for verification purposes. Any work you do in the online VM is discarded once you shut it down.

The other situation is when you need to access a VM backup not for a full restore but, say, to retrieve a configuration setting or file from the archive. That's what the Recovery Mode boot from backup option does.

Another way to use Recovery Mode is to have the VM online quickly while Altaro VM Backup restores the production VM copy simultaneously. In this case, any changes you make the Recovery Mode VM instance will be merged into the production restore copy after a reboot.

New look for Altaro Offsite Server ^

Altaro Offsite Server is a free add-on to Altaro VM Backup that is used to manage offsite backups. Specifically, you install the Offsite Server in the remote site(s) where you plan to store offsite backups; the Offsite Server facilitates the process.

As you can see in the following screenshot, the Offsite Server looks almost exactly like the main Altaro VM Backup console.

Altaro Offsite Server

Altaro Offsite Server

VM backup to Microsoft Azure ^

Altaro VM Backup v7.5 can now use an Azure storage account as an offsite copy repository. This is a handy option for businesses who have begun the process of migrating their disaster recovery (DR) site out of on-prem datacenters and into the public cloud.

What's especially nice about the Azure option is that no virtual private network (VPN) connection to Azure is required, your offsite backups are stored in economical blob storage, and that you can still take advantage of Altaro's compression, encryption, and data deduplication features.

Cloud Management Console (CMC) ^

In a way I saved what I think is the best Altaro VM Backup v7 new feature for last. The Cloud Management Console (CMC) provides customers with a cloud-based "meta" administration portal from which they can manage all aspects of their Altaro VM Backup infrastructure, including Offsite Servers.

Altaro Cloud Management Console

Altaro Cloud Management Console

The setup workflow here is cool:

  1. In CMC, generate access keys for each of your on-premises Altaro VM Backup installations
  2. In the Altaro VM Backup Console, click the CMC icon in the navigation menu and paste in the key

That's it! Once your Altaro VM Backup nodes are registered with CMC, you can administer your entire infrastructure through a proverbial "single pane of glass."

Wrap-up ^

You can download a free 30-day trial of Altaro VM Backup Unlimited Plus Edition. In a generous gesture, Altaro offers a Free Edition in which you're licensed to manage two VMs per host!

In summary, the three biggest benefits that Altaro VM Backup brings to the table from my perspective are:

  • It manages both Hyper-V and VMware virtual machines
  • The data deduplication is exceptional
  • The cloud console makes enterprise management much easier than before

If you are a studious type like me, then you will download all the white papers, free recipe guides, and datasheets to learn more about the solution.

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