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Unitrends backup overview
UEB supports on-premises virtualized environments, Microsoft 365 cloud SaaS, leveraging cloud storage as part of the backup infrastructure, and even protecting end user clients.
There are several areas where Unitrends solutions stand out, which certainly place them on the map as a solution to consider with modern data protection needs. These include:
- All-in-one appliance—Unitrends backup software can be downloaded as a self-contained Linux appliance that can be deployed and provisioned easily.
- Self-healing hardware and software—Unitrends provides several built-in mechanisms that bolster the integrity of your backups protecting business-critical data, including what they refer to as "triple ransomware protection." It uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze patterns of data characteristics and alerts admins of a possible ransomware attack in the early stages.
- Heterogeneous protection—Unitrends allows protecting over 250 versions of operating systems, hypervisors, and applications.
- Automated backup testing—It leverages a "recovery assurance" automatic process that provisions and tests your data at the application layer and documents your RTO and RPOs.
- Disaster Recovery as a Service—Choose to use a public cloud or choose the Unitrends purpose-built DRaaS cloud. The backup appliances have cloud connectivity built into the solution. Data is replicated to the cloud. If you have a disaster event, you call Unitrends, and they provide your disaster recovery environment in the Unitrends Cloud. They also create an SSL VPN to allow clients to connect to data in the Unitrends DRaaS cloud.
- Unitrends Forever Cloud—This is the Unitrends Cloud for long-term retention of your data.
- Direct-to-cloud—You can back up endpoint clients with the Unitrends Windows agent, which allows backing up remote clients. The only requirement is internet connectivity.
- Unitrends Bridge—Delivers instant recovery of physical (P2V) or virtual (V2V) workloads in one click.
- Inline adaptive deduplication—This reduces capacity requirements by 20:1. It combines compression with global and inline deduplication.
- Near-continuous data protection (CDP)—Unitrends supports near-CDP with 60-second backups.
- Long-term data management—You can set custom retention times for large volumes of backup jobs in a few clicks to ensure compliance and efficient capacity utilization.
Using the Unitrends virtual backup appliance, you can create the following jobs and protection for your virtual workloads:
- Backups—Jobs to back up your applications, files, and virtual machines across various platforms.
- Backup Copy—Create an additional copy of your backups on a separate Unitrends appliance.
- Data Copy Access—Automates testing and allows RPO/RTO compliance testing, disaster recovery, and on-demand labs.
- SLA Policy—Controls the initiation and flow of backups and backup copies through a single, simple policy and takes the heavy lifting out of meeting data protection RPO/RTO objectives.
- Replicas—Windows and VMware replication that creates a standby machine in a secondary/DR environment.
Let's first look at getting up and running with the Unitrends backup appliance in a VMware vSphere environment.
Deployment and initial configuration of the Unitrends backup appliance
The Unitrends backup appliance is a self-contained Linux appliance that you can download from Unitrends as an easy-to-install appliance for your hypervisor of choice. You can download the appliance for VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, and Nutanix AHV. Unitrends also offers to send you an evaluation unit of their Recovery series hardware appliance if you do not run any of the hypervisors mentioned above.
To test the appliance, I am using the VMware OVA appliance download to deploy the solution in vSphere extremely easily. These Linux appliances are great in many respects, including being more resilient to the ransomware that typically targets Windows systems.
The Unitrends OVA appliance was quite hefty. The file details are as follows:
- File size: 3.44 GB
The initial configuration of the Unitrends appliance was simple and straightforward, with no issues to report.
The Unitrends interface is well thought out and intuitive. It performed very well in the modern browsers that I used to test. Workflows for job creation were unproblematic. Unitrends uses the contemporary approach of the left-column menu to drive the administrative workflows. I found these worked well in creating a job, viewing reports, configuration, and other tasks.
Below, the Unitrends dashboard is displayed after first logging into the virtual appliance. Your first task will be to add storage (if you haven't already), add an asset, the source you want to protect, and create the backup job.
Create a backup job
The first task you will need to complete is adding your virtual environment to Unitrends. If you are in a VMware vSphere environment, you can point Unitrends to your vCenter Server as the central virtualization host to back up all virtual machines you have running in vSphere.
As you create a new backup job, you will notice the wide range of technologies and solutions that Unitrends can protect when you click the What do you want to backup dropdown box. It helps to provide an idea of the wide range of coverage that Unitrends provides with its backup solution.
Select the virtual machine(s) you want to include in the backup job.
Choose the backup mode, the schedule, start time, recurrence, and other options.
The Unitrends job viewer allows quickly viewing the status of jobs that are running and those that are complete.
Creating a replica VM
You can easily create a replica VM in a separate virtualization environment using UEB. To create a replica VM, you will need to have your source and destination virtualization environments added to UEB. The replica VM is created in the destination environment. Let's look at the wizard for creating the VM replica.
Once you launch the replica wizard, you will be asked to select the source VM you want to replicate.
Next, define the location of the target environment for the replica VM to be created. Here, I have added the other vSphere environment as the target.
Finally, choose a name for the replica. By default, it will append the _replica suffix to the VM name. Additionally, you can define how many recovery points you want to keep on the replica VM. This equates to snapshots maintained on the replica for restore points.
Recovering a VM
Recovering from a VM that you have successfully backed up is easily accomplished in the Recover area of the UEB console. First, choose the VM you want to recover, then the restore point that you want to recover for the particular virtual machine. Note the options available here:
- Search files—Search files located in backups.
- Recover—Recover the backup to a VM.
- Recover files—Perform a granular file recovery.
- Instant recovery—Boot the VM from backup storage.
I have chosen the Recover option, which enables recovering the entire VM.
Choose the target environment to recover the VM.
Click Save to begin the recovery job.
Creating an SLA Policy
One of the most powerful features of the UEB solution is its ability to create SLA policies. This enables defining the SLA. The jobs that make the defined SLA possible are automatically created to support it. Let's take a look at how quickly you can protect assets defined in Unitrends with this feature. Click Protect > SLA Policy.
Select the items from the inventory you want to protect. These are already chosen from the VMs selected on the Protect screen.
Next, define the Backup Frequency as well as the Backup Copies you want to create with the SLA policy.
The job(s) are created depending on the options you select and define in the SLA policy.
Thoughts and impressions
UEB is a robust, enterprise-ready backup solution that contains features ready for on-premises and hybrid cloud environments. It allows you to quickly implement the 3-2-1 backup best practice recommendation in your environment with multiple copies of your data. I like the interface with UEB. It is intuitive, and the workflows to create jobs and perform recovery are straightforward. Unitrends has done a great job of minimizing the number of steps required to perform various backup and recovery tasks. Often, you will find only a couple of clicks necessary to perform primary operations.
Leveraging UEB along with their DRaaS and cloud offerings provides a fully-featured DR strategy to protect your data and allows spinning up resources in the cloud if you have a failure on premises. Many organizations have shifted to cloud SaaS environments like Microsoft 365 this year, with a significant shift to remote work. Unitrends supports remote workers leveraging cloud SaaS with Microsoft 365 backups and endpoint backup for remote workers. Remote endpoints only need to have an internet connection to back up to the cloud.
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I was only able to scratch the surface of functionality with UEB in this review. I found it to be a comprehensive enterprise backup solution that is suited for the challenges of protecting data across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid cloud environments. Learn more about UEB features and capabilities here.