• Brad Linch

A Biased Opinion on AWS Backup for VMware

Curiosity got the best of me when I saw AWS Backup announced support for VMware. Considering AWS is well on its way to takeover the world in IT, groceries, movies, shopping etc, I needed to ensure for my livelihood that backup wouldn't be next. AWS does a fairly good job documenting how-to protect VMware, so I will just add a few tid-bits given my experience.


AWS Gateway

Deploying the AWS Backup Gateway server is a fairly straight forward process via an OVF template in VMware. The major hiccup for me was the networking piece. You need to know the IP of the Gateway in order to register it in the AWS console. After some research, I found that the default username and password is admin/password. The IP will be located at the top after you login as shown below.

Backup

Backing up the virtual machines are relatively straight forward too, but I hope for your sake you only have a small handful. You can only specify by VM attribute, so you have to individually select the VMs you want to protect. There is no option to protect by cluster, datastore or VMware tag. In addition, I find all the options between a Backup Plan, Job and Backup Policy a tad confusing, but like I said this is a biased review. It is important to note, there are no application consistency options for Linux and high-level backup details are limited. The main item to highlight though is to specify "only include specific resources," or you will receive a hefty bill when AWS charges you all the storage and network costs associated with protecting all the VMs in vCenter.

Restore

Restoring virtual machines is my main gripe. First of all, you cannot restore a VMware backup to AWS as an EC2. This is something easily done in Veeam for several years. Secondly, you can only restore full VMs. There is no option to restore a disk, file or application item. Thirdly, you have to manually enter the destination for the ESXi host, datastore and file path! I have never seen this in my 7 years in the backup industry. Any other vendor populates these fields, so you don't have to login into vSphere on a treasure hunt expedition. Lastly, the error messaging and logging are barebones. It's nearly impossible to troubleshoot based on the information provided. It took me over 10 attempts for a restore to work.

Error message when troubleshooting restore.

Pricing

In attempt to not come off as totally biased (if it's not too late), AWS Backup for VMware is very affordable. It's so affordable that it is free. There is no per-instance or Front End Per TB license consumption model. AWS Backup charges for the backup storage, retrieval of data, network costs associated with backup and restore, and cross-region data transfer for copy jobs. AWS does charge $.05 per GB of consumed storage though, whereas Veeam can backup to more cost-effective storage. In addition, it is worth noting that Veeam can also protect EC2/EBS to S3 which is $.022 per GB, whereas AWS charges $.05 per GB to store that data on snapshots.

High-Level Comparison

In summary, AWS has created a v1.0 product in a space that is surrounded by products that are well into v10 and v20s. The one advantage AWS provides is minimal upfront cost, but as time goes on and data grows the high storage consumption costs will create a total cost of ownership that is the same or potentially even higher than other players in the industry. AWS Backup for VMware is meant for users with minimal backup and recovery requirements.



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