First introduced in VMware Infrastructure 3, VMware Consolidated Backup is a proxy server that assisted with local area network-free backups of virtual machines (VMs). This configuration eliminates the backup traffic from a network, freeing up ESX server resources for VM performance.
Other key features of VCB include the following:
- full and incremental file-level VM backups, in addition to full image backups;
- support for network-attached storage, Fibre Channel, local or iSCSI storage infrastructures; and
- allows for backup management from a centralized point.
VCB, however, is not a typical backup agent because it's a command line tool that consists of several Windows-executable programs. With scripts, these programs also provide a framework for third-party backup products to use as well.
Many detractors of VMware's backup agent grumble that you need to use other backup programs in conjunction with VCB, because it is not a robust, all-in-one tool. Another sticking point for many companies is that VCB requires a dedicated Windows proxy server. While VMware touts this as an advantage, some find it puzzling that their virtual environment backup tool needs a standalone physical machine.
With the release of vSphere 4, VMware has been pushing backup vendors to write to the new vStorage application programming interfaces (APIs), which replaced VCB. VMware also released VMware Data Recovery, which is capable of data backup and utilizes the vStorage APIs, but lacks some of the bells and whistles of third-party backup tools. For more on VMware Data Recovery, check out SearchDataBackup.com's VMware Data Recovery installation guide.
If you're still using VMware Infrastructure 3 and are researching additional virtual backup options, check out the following resources:
- Alternatives to VCB for VMware backup
- SearchServerVirtualization.com's 2009 Products of the Year winners: backup and storage category
- Demystifying VMware data protection: Data backup products