Vembu BDR Suite Review

Reduces downtime when VMs drop off


What is our primary use case?

I've actively been using the Vembu product for backups. It is being used to back up the Hyper-V environment that I have. If the hypervisor has hardware problems, e.g., all the storage dies, you can run up a new Hyper-V server, then restore the VMs onto it. It doesn't take that long. So, you are up and running within several hours of restoring it. Also, you can restore individual files. Therefore, it's a full VM-based image backup as well as a file level backup, if you want to restore the files that way. There is also an option to restore AD users, computers, and contacts, in addition to Exchange databases at the brick level.

I'm mainly working with home-based customers. I don't have any business clients yet.

It's on-premise, not cloud-based at the moment. I'm planning to possibly have replication to an external site since my Internet link is much better now. That will be done in the future. I'll probably replicate to a private cloud somewhere.

How has it helped my organization?

The main thing is recovery. I have had a lot of hardware failures quite recently due to power fluctuations and overheating. Therefore, I am using it on a lab environment where I test things for customers. It has helped to reduce time. For example, one of the hypervisors died, so I loaded up another non-clustered machine and just restored the previous night's backup, then the VMs worked fine. 

I am able to run Vembu on Windows NAS, which is beneficial. It does install on a Windows-based NAS. You can have the server running from the location where you are storing backups. You don't need a separate server for it in this case. This is only available with the licensed version.

What is most valuable?

The image backup on VM is the most valuable feature.

You can restore to another location or another physical/virtual machine. You can do P2V as well as V2V. That is what I have found most useful.

What needs improvement?

The encryption feature seems okay. When you change versions, then I have found it to have problems. An example: I was on version 3.9, and I had an encrypted VM. It was restored from version 4 onto a newer Hyper-V server. So, I went from maybe a 2008 to 2012, and it was restored and then it didn't restore, and because of those changes, it didn't like the encryption. But, generally if the version and the hypervisor version are the same, then you shouldn't have any problems with it.

There was one issue though with the hardware IDs. When I went to a different version of Hyper-V, the hardware IDs weren't restored and the machine got two new IDs. The preliminary unique IDs weren't restored, so I had to reactivate programs. That was the only downside.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using it close to two years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The stability has been okay. If you put too much load on it, then it does become a bit unstable. The server that you are using does matter. Whenever I've tried to contact the tech support, they say upgrade to the latest version. The problem with that is the old backups need to be all done again because it appears that on each version upgrade the old backups no longer continue. They need to be done as a full backup again. 

I haven't had too many issues with failed backups. There were some backups failing, but I found that was just before the drive failures. So, there were multiple drive failures which caused the problems, but the product itself has been okay. 

At times, when I have done a restore or mount multiple images at the same time, it has become a bit unstable. However, I just needed to restart the Vembu service, then it started working again. 

It's fairly straightforward to restore and do backups. It keeps on running. There is not much in terms of maintenance required. It has recovery points that you can retain, so it's pretty much a send and forget solution. You can have it running indefinitely.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It appears to be scalable. If you have a cluster, it will back that up. Also, if you run out of storage space, then you can add more storage to it. So, you can add an additional storage pool from a USB, then allocate that to be used. For example, if you run out of space on one NAS, but that NAS has access to another volume, you can add that as another storage pool so you can have multiple storage pools. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support's response time was okay. I had to wait several hours for a response, but that was probably because of the time difference. All in all, it was quite acceptable and sort of normal.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I've been using Veeam for quite some time with other customers. I don't know of other customers who use Vembu, but it's very similar to Veeam. I'm finding it quite similar to Veeam, which is good. Because if anyone wants to move to Vembu, and they've used Veeam, they will pick it up quickly.

I came across Vembu when I was searching for alternatives for Veeam with any type of image backup for Microsoft Hyper-V. I came across Vembu who had at the time was giving backups for up to three VMs on the free version. I was sort of growing with my VMs. I had three, but I soon crossed that amount. That's how I came across Vembu: I found there were cost limitations and was looking for an alternative to Veeam that did the same sort of thing.

How was the initial setup?

It was fairly straightforward to install and get running. However, installing the agent on the hypervisor was a bit tricky, because the version that I was using is just a core version. So, it's has no GUI. In that version, there were some special instructions, which we did have thankfully, and there were a few extra steps that I needed to take to install the agent. What normally happens is the agent can be pushed out from the BDR Server, but that wasn't working on the core version. The initial setup was not relatively easy, but not relatively hard, it was just in-between.

The deployment took an hour and a half. 

The implementation strategy was to try and get the BDR Server running to sort of simplify things. Then, we could have another server just as a backup server. 

What about the implementation team?

I deployed it myself. I did use some documentation that they had. So, it was more or less trial and error. I was running a Windows OS on the NAS, and they didn't exactly say that they supported it. They just said, "If it works, it works. If it doesn't work, then you'll have to get the full OS because mobile NASs come with a Windows Storage Server." They didn't really certify to run on that. However, in the end, it did work quite well.

What was our ROI?

When one of the VMs dropped off, I was able to recover fairly quickly. Therefore, I have noticed a return on investment. It has helped to reduce at least a day's worth of downtime. Which, if I didn't have the image backup, I would be loading all those VMs again. Some of them did take time to build. So, a case per a day if not more, because the other option was just to rebuild the whole environment from scratch if I didn't have those image backups. So, about every six months, I am saving several hundred dollars of downtime.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

I was using their free version, which had limitations, so then I went to the licensed version.

It has actually benefited my operation a fair bit. VMware requires a special hardware while Hyper-V runs on pretty much anything. It doesn't require any special hardware, so it saves a bit of money. Because Vembu does Hyper-V backup, there is no limit on how many VMs you can have. The newer version has a 100 VM limit on the single license, which has been greatly beneficial, because on one host a 100 VMs is a fair bit. 

The licensing model is quite complicated; it's not simple. An example: If you have a physical server, you have to pay more for that license than you do for a host. It could be running several VMs and that could be a server VM as well. Then, for web station machines, there is no license for those machines and they have no desktop OS - the free version has all this functionality. Their license model needs to be looked at and simplified.

At the moment, I am doing Vembu for one host. My costs are about $25 USD a month for a single host up to 100 VMs. It's just the license per host with one CPU, but if I did choose offsite cloud replication, they do charge for the data. They charge per gigabyte, or something like that. They have plans. 

When they changed to the newest version (4.1), they have more VMs allowed on the free version. Before, there were only three VMs allowed on the free version, and if you needed to back up more than three VMs, you had to get the paid version. Now, you can have up to 10 VMs on the free version. This was when I was just crossing over to 10 VMs or was very close to it. If I had known, then I would've not paid for the monthly licensing cost. I've since crossed 10 VMs, so this doesn't matter to me, but it will matter to someone who only wants to back up a few VMs. E.g., if they had five VMs and were forced onto the licensed version, then in the update, the free version could back up 10 VMs.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

I know that the normal Windows Backup won't backup the VMs if you're using it in a HA Failover Clustering environment. If you're using it in a clustered high availability environment, it will back up the VMs. That is the main difference I found. But, in terms of backing it up, Vembu does support the HA Failover Clustering, so it can back up when you have VMs on a Cluster Shared Volume. It can back up those VMs unlike the built-in Windows Backup, which doesn't support that.

I evaluated Altaro but there were some requirements that you needed for install on the Windows-based NAS. That was my main issue at the time. Because of the way I planned to have the backup solution running on the Windows-based NAS, a few of the solutions wouldn't install or had problems.

A lot of the other people that I know use Veeam, StorageCraft ShadowProtect, and Kronos. Not too many people that I know use Vembu, but I found it to be the equivalent of Veeam in some ways. It does work very similarly in its functions.

The pros for Vembu vs Veeam are Vembu's license cost for a host seems to be much cheaper and Veeam might not run on certain hardware. The Veeam Backup & Replication Server has some hardware requirements that I could not get to install on the net, but Vembu installed quite happily.

The cons for Vembu vs Veeam are Vembu's licensed model is a bit complicated, and if things go wrong in Vembu, there is less support out there. You do have to contact Vembu's support to have a look at a problem, whereas with Veeam, there is quite a bit of knowledge out there in terms of online forums. 

What other advice do I have?

I have learned just how important backups are. 

My advice would be try and implement it on virtual environments. Don't implement it on a physical environment because the licensing costs would be much higher. You will have less options for recovering VMs. It would be wise to have a cluster. Also, the BDR server should be well spec'd. You can run on the minimum spec, but it is recommended that it has some definite amounts of RAM on it. 

I am planning to use Vembu to work in VMware, but I have not done that yet. After I pick up some customers, I might try to push it out to them in their VMware environment. At the moment, it's just Microsoft Hyper-V.

I don't really use the deduplication feature.

I would probably rate the solution around seven and a half out of 10. It missed out on a few scores because each time when you upgrade the version, you have to do all the backups again. That's why I didn't give it a 10. If it didn't need to do all the backups again when changing the version, then I would have given it a 10 easily.

In the near future, if Vembu stays the way it is now with its licensing costs and everything else, then I will continue to use it and expand on it. I will try and push it out to some of my customers as well. A lot of customers just use Veeam or Kronos at the moment and may switch for the cost savings.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

On-premises
**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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author avatarBhavaniShanmugam (Vembu Technologies)
Vendor

Thank you for your feedback, Assad.

We regret the inconvenience you faced with the existing backup jobs when upgrading the backup server. Until our previous release, we were using our proprietary CBT to perform Hyper-V incremental backup. In v4.1, we updated the driver with Microsoft RCT for Windows server 2016 & above. Any driver-level update automatically demands a new full backup for existing backup jobs. We don’t make driver-level updates for each version. You can expect a seamless upgrade process for our upcoming releases.

Regarding your concern about the change in VM ID when restoring the Hyper-V VMs, we already have this feature in our roadmap. In our next major release, you will be able to restore your VMs with the same VM configs like ID, network settings, etc.

To accommodate the varying levels of backup requirements from businesses of different sizes, we have multiple pricing editions and licensing options. We have taken your feedback to our product team. We’ll make sure our pricing and licensing are simpler in the near future.

For further updates & queries, you can reach us through vembu-support@vembu.com