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Deduplication will optimize this backup method as the .vmdk file breaks "incremental" policies of backup apps. Because the .vmdk file appears as a new file, it will be selected for incremental backup even if only a small piece of data changed. Solutions that deduplicate at a granular level make up for this inefficiency and back up only the changed data.
Licensed to back up
With any of these backup options, consider how the backup app is licensed. Typically, traditional backup software is licensed on a per-server and/or per-client basis. When a client agent is required on multiple virtual machines on a physical system, it could get costly. Many VMware-friendly licensing models, including capacity- and CPU-based licensing, are available in traditional and next-generation backup solutions.
Some of the smaller, more VMware-focused backup vendors are offering innovative solutions and capturing early-adopter VMware customers. In non-VMware environments, adoption of next-generation backup has been somewhat slow and marginalized, largely because the cost, upheaval and risk of switching backup solutions are too great for many firms. However, the application of deduplication in VMware data protection might be the catalyst to change this. The benefits of next-generation data protection in virtual environments are significant and (combined with IT re-architecting anyway) should overcome any potential resistance and encourage widespread adoption of this technology.
This was first published in September 2007