Recently, Doug Braun, Director, Product Marketing at Infrascale sat down with product expert, Alexey Turchanikov to unpack the details of Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery (IBDR). Today, the conversation continues with IBDR Product Owner, Maksym Kysunko, and a discussion about the new for Microsoft-centric MSPs. During the interview Maksym describes how the new IBDR enhancement offers native discovery, policy control, and backup of Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs).
The Growth of Virtualization
Doug Braun: Infrascale recently announced a new agentless Hyper-V backup capability for Infrascale Backup and Disaster Recovery (IBDR). Can you help me untangle those words: What is Hyper-V? And why is it important for IBDR customers?
Maksym Kysunko: To answer these questions, it probably makes sense to begin with the basics. Virtualization is the process of creating a software-based, or “virtual” version of a computer. This virtual version has dedicated amounts of CPU, memory, and storage that are “borrowed” from a physical host (or remote) computer. A virtual machine starts as an image, but behaves the same as a living, breathing computer. The virtual machine is partitioned from the rest of the system so the software inside a VM can’t interact with the host computer’s primary operating system.
To answer your direct questions, Hyper-V is a Microsoft product that acts as a virtual machine manager (technical term: hypervisor). It lets you run different operating systems, on different hosted virtual machines, at the same time. The ability for IBDR to support the Hyper-V hypervisor is paramount for Microsoft-focused MSPs who want to provide backup and disaster recovery for their customers. First, Hyper-V is included with Windows Server licenses – which means it has a high adoption rate among MSPs already deploying Microsoft servers (read: no additional costs). Second, Hyper-V provides great benefits to the MSP managing infrastructure more easily and consistently (see this article for details) – saving them time and allowing them to support more customers.
DB: How does an agentless solution benefit MSPs and their customers?
MK: Hyper-V has a hypervisor host with many different VMs. Agentless means that MSPs can manage all of those VMs from one single agent installation on the hypervisor. This eliminates the need to install an agent on each and every VM instance on that host (1 versus n installs). From that one install, the host agent can protect either one VM or the entire set.
The Importance of “Native”
DB: Our recent press release mentions that this is a “native” solution. Why is that important? Does IBDR provide native, agentless support for other hypervisors?
MK: Native means that our IBDR agentless backup solution leverages APIs/SDKs directly to the hypervisor to manage the workloads. This guaranteed compatibility allows MSPs to automatically protect (backup and restore) additional VMs that are created by Hyper-V. Further, it allows the back up of VMs that are turned off! Since IBDR also provides native, agentless support for VMware, it allows IBDR to back up from Hyper-V and restore to VMware (and vice versa) — while maintaining compatibility.
DB: Infrascale Backup and Disaster Recovery uses native APIs to find and backup Hyper-V or VMware VMs. What does that actually entail? How does an administrative user accomplish this task?
MK: IBDR uses APIs provided by the platform vendor to discover and then back up Hyper-V or VMware virtual machines. Of course, the API usage underlies the IBDR administrative user interface. After the agent is installed on the Hyper-V host, the MSP Administrator simply connects the host (via the agent) to the appliance using the standard login. After a few clicks to discover and register the VMs for backup, the Administrator reviews, edits, and saves the VM backup configuration as needed. Login, discover, select, confirm, and save. It can’t be much easier to manage all VMs directly from the IBDR dashboard.
Solving Two Key Pain Points
DB: Coming back to agentless – the press release talks about agentless addressing two key customer pain points. Can you expand on these and explain why an agentless backup solution is important to MSPs?
MK: The two key pain points our customers face are managing the cost and complexity of per-server agents. It is not uncommon for them to have to manage many different agents, from many different vendors. This may include: an antivirus agent, a data leak prevention agent, an endpoint detection and response (EDR) agent, etc., which all require time-consuming, manual processes. With the IBDR single agentless configuration, there is no need to touch each virtual machine, which enables faster deployment and easier management for our MSP and VAR customers.
Assurance is Important Too
DB: So, after discovery how does an administrator ensure the Hyper-V VMs are actually backed up?
MK: In the review/save/edit step previously outlined, the administrator ensures that the Hyper-V VMs are backed up via policy controls that protect some or all VMs managed by the hypervisor, depending on the needs of the MSP. The administrator can also auto-protect new VMs as they are created – without revisiting setup. A final policy control is the ability to backup VMs – even when they’re not powered up. Of course, regardless of which VMs are configured, ultimate assurance comes from the IBDR boot verification feature – showing the administrator proof that the VM is backed up and bootable.
Who Benefits from the Solution?
DB: This seems to be an excellent solution for administrators with Hyper-V VMs that require DR. Did anyone get to try it out? What did they say?
MK: I agree that the solution is ideal for our MSP partners with Microsoft-centric environments. These partners need an agentless solution that provides native discovery, policy control, and backup for Hyper-V virtual machines. The IBDR agentless solution for Hyper-V backup provides them the management ease and flexibility they desire.
An important aspect of our testing process for the solution was to conduct a beta trial with several customers. We were very pleased with the results. One frequent piece of feedback from the beta testers was that the agentless Hyper-V backup solution worked right out of the box, and seamlessly solved their backup and administrative needs.
Key Drivers … and Some Background
DB: How did you come up with this solution? Why now?
MK: We had two agentless backup solutions in the past. One was a VMware solution built internally from the ground-up for the specific needs of our customers. A second agentless solution was from a third-party provider that we found to be overly generic and less reliable than we thought our customers deserved. Therefore, we expanded our internally developed agentless backup solution for VMware to support the agentless backup needs of Hyper-V environments. We now support the two largest hypervisor environments with an agentless backup solution that provides rock-solid performance and meets the needs of our partners. This provides our MSP and VAR partners an edge in the very competitive SMB and mid-market space.
DB: From a product management and engineering perspective – what do you want end users to know about this solution and why they should trust it with their data?
MK: As mentioned, our IBDR agentless backup engine for Hyper-V was built from the ground up to address the specific needs of our customers. This included the ability to integrate with the hypervisor seamlessly, giving our partners and their end customers the best possible user experience and flawless DR performance. It is also faster to deploy and easier to manage over the previous version, and backups are up to three times faster!
Find Out More
DB: Maksym, this interview has been a real pleasure, and I really appreciate your time. How does one find out more about Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery Agentless Backup for Hyper-V?
MK: The best place to get more information about our IBDR agentless backup engine for Hyper-V is from the Infrascale Backup & Disaster Recovery product page. In addition, the Infrascale documentation portal provides a wealth of information on our backup and disaster recovery solution – or you can contact an Infrascale sales representative for more information and to schedule a demo.