There are new challenges that force IT companies to look for non-trivial approaches to solve the problems of their customers every year. And as you know LANIT-Integration is not an exception. Our team has already managed to work with many products, but we never stop discovering new ones.
In this article I would like to provide an overview of backup and recovery software from Chinese vendors and to compare these solutions with domestic ones.
Players from the East
The topic of import substitution in Russia was first discussed in 2012 in the context of national food security. This trend has been actively intensifying in IT since 2015: relevant laws are being adopted, products which can replace the hardware and software of foreign vendors, to varying degrees, are being developed and released. Various solutions for virtualization, virtual desktop infrastructure, servers, storage systems, etc. are already presented on the Russian market. Undoubtedly all this helps end users to gradually migrate from foreign solutions and reduce such risks as lack of technical support, complexity of scaling, etc.
In the domestic market Cyberprotect [Киберпротект] and RuBackup have become major players offering backup and recovery products. They were introduced in 2017 and 2019 respectively. Unlike such industry giants as Commvault and Veritas, which have been developing their products for decades, the Russian solutions do not have such a broad set of features to cover all the needs of an enterprise-level customer. It is worth noting that the quality of the product and its stability is directly affected by how many resources have been spent. The amount of investment, the composition of the development team, the geo-distribution of the product, and the number of years spent on development are important.
While government customers are already obliged to use software from the unified register of Russian software for electronic computers and databases, and equipment from the unified register of Russian radio electronic products, commercial customers still have the opportunity to consider foreign solutions of partners from China. It was interesting to me what backup & recovery software products Chinese vendors can offer. After some research I found two self-contained and interesting solutions: Vinchin Backup & Recovery and AISHU AnyBackup. I propose to review and compare their functionality.
Vinchin Backup & Recovery
Vinchin was founded in 2015. Its main focus is data protection in the cloud and virtualized infrastructure. It provides backup, instant and remote disaster recovery solutions for private, public and hybrid cloud environments.
So let’s go further.
Almost no review or presentation goes without mentioning the rating agency. So let's see what information Gartner has about the product. So far the vendor is not listed in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions. However, there is a company card and reviews on Gartner Peer Insights.
Software installation begins with filling out a form on the official website: full name, email, phone number, company name and hypervisor. After all the manipulations a link to download an ISO image with an activation key, which provides 60 days of free usage for testing, will be sent to your email.
To start the installation process, you need to mount the CentOS 7 ISO image to a virtual machine (you can also install on a physical host). The last step is to reboot the system to complete the OS installation. To access the web interface, you need to enter the IP address of the virtual machine with Vinchin B&R installed into the browser address bar. The process takes approximately 30 minutes.
The basic requirements for a backup server are as follows:
There are three components of Vinchin Backup & Recovery:
Vinchin Backup & Recovery Server — Vinchin backup and recovery server;
Vinchin Backup & Recovery Node — a node for decentralizing the backup server workload;
Vinchin Backup & Recovery Proxy — a proxy for VMware vSphere virtual infrastructure without storage area network (SAN).
This is how the main page of the web interface of the Vinchin B&R management server looks like.
The interface is user-friendly and cool. The main page displays dashboards with sufficient useful information to monitor the status of the backup server and the execution of jobs. You can go to its subsections by clicking on the appropriate section or simply on one of the dashboards. Creating backup or restore jobs is fast with easy navigation. There is also a very nice thing - Data Visualization. To access it, click the monitor icon in the upper right corner of the home page and a new window will open a single-page monitoring of your backup infrastructure.
PostgreSQL has recently become one of the most popular DB on the Russian market. It is worth noting that Vinchin B&R currently supports PostgreSQL, Oracle Database, MS SQL Server and MySQL (Linux).
In the case of MS SQL and Oracle the following things are supported:
MS SQL Server built-in APIs for automatic database content consistency checking during backups;
Multithreading and simplified RAC backup node authorization for Oracle users.
You can use Storage Protection as a backup protection measure. With this option enabled, only Vinchin services will have permission to write new data and modify existing data. This may be one of the ways to protect against malicious attacks and ransomware. It should be noted that this feature works only directly with connected storages on the backup server.
At the same time, there is a mechanism to protect the VM backup to prevent unauthorized access to the data during the transfer process. The Bank level algorithm is applied, which implements data encryption. In addition, there is a guarantee of their security in backups. The feature works on the basis of a job. All VM backup data included in that job will be encrypted. When performing a VM restore, whether full, granular or instantaneous, a password check will always be required before it. So the user who has it can access the data in the backups.
Among other things the product supports various virtualisation solutions and features cross-platform virtual machine recovery. Product licensing is simple. The licenses themselves are required only for the hosts to be backed up, whether they are virtualisation or physical hosts.
At present, there is only one support rate: Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 11 pm UTC +8. You can contact the service via Live Chat. You can find it on the website and by phone. However, the reaction time is not always fast - up to 8 hours. In case of emergency situations, a special phone number is attached to the site and the answer can be received in one minute, that is really great. If the customer is willing to provide their contact for instant messaging, the vendor can organize a special group. Among other things, the Vinchin team supports the organization of remote access sessions for troubleshooting. To do this, you need to make a corresponding request to the vendor.
According to the official blog, the company has projects not only in China, but also in Europe, Latin America etc. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that there will be other support rates. Perhaps, technical support of levels 1-2 will be taken over by distributors, or maybe they can already do that (but I did not find such information).
There are three versions of the product:
Vinchin Backup & Recovery is the regular version of the software;
Vinchin Backup Free Edition is a free version;
Vinchin Backup MSP Edition is a version for service providers, which provides BaaS (Backup-as-a-Service) and DRaaS (Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service).
AnyBackup has been being developed by AISHU (part of ESIOO Information Technology Corp. headquartered in Shanghai) since 2006. In addition to data protection, it focuses on cloud computing, data sharing and synchronization, and managed cloud services. Currently the company has six R&D centers in the APAC and EMEA regions, as well as head offices in Hamburg, Shanghai and Singapore.
AnyShare – Intelligent Content Management;
AnyBackup – Backup & Disaster Recovery;
AnyRobot – Operations & Maintenance Robot;
AnyDATA – Cognitive Intelligence Framework.
Now let's take a look at something interesting that can be found at Gartner. The product is not represented in the Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software Solutions to date. However, there is a page on Gartner Peer Insights. Well, the following sample is small, but there are about 2.5 times more reviews than at Vinchin.
AnyBackup has three entities:
Client (Production Server) – an agent that is installed on each host;
Console (AnyBackup Console) – management console;
Backup Server – a backup server that supports a cluster of up to 16 nodes.
The vendor offers two options for using Backup & Recovery Software: appliance with ApolloOS or on servers with any of the supported operating systems for deployment (CentOS/RedHat/KylinOS/UOS). CPU, RAM, Disk configuration requirements may vary depending on the backup software usage scenario. In the base case, 8 vCPU, 32GB RAM and approximately 120GB disk subsystem are required.
Backup Server is installed with the help of a script. This prompts you to select the options you need.
In my case, the installation of all server components was performed on one virtual machine. The installation process took about 30 minutes.
To get to the console, you must enter the IP address with port 9600 in the address bar of your browser.
The interface is quite informative and concise. The home page provides basic system monitoring and metrics. You can also sort alerts by their criticality. The menu is located on the left side of the screen and has a hierarchical layout that is easy to navigate.
In addition to the main management console, AnyBackup has a CDM (Copy Data Management) console.
The solution supports various databases: popular as Oracle, MS SQL, PostgreSQL, SAP HANA, MySQL, DB2, Sybase, as well as Chinese: Kingbase, GBase, Shentong and Dameng. NoSQL databases are also supported: MongoDB and Cassandra. It is also worth noting that AnyBackup has the support for Big Data components that are gaining more and more popularity every year: GaussDB and Hadoop.
As concerns virtualization, apart from the main three products (VMware ESXi, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer), quite popular solutions such as H3C CAS, Huawei FusionCompute, OpenStack are supported. Moreover, AnyBackup has integration with Huawei Cloud and Alibaba Cloud.
The new version of AnyBackup 184.108.40.206 introduces the support for Kubernetes backup. Applications are protected by auto-discovery technology. Broad compatibility has been implemented: storage with and without a CSI (Container Storage Interface) driver is supported (only NFS-based PVC storage is supported without CSI), deployment scenarios in private and public clouds, and compatibility with all Cloud-native applications. When using CSI, snapshots and instant restores are supported. In addition, there is comprehensive protection: three types of backup and restore granularity are supported - these are Cluster, Namespace, Workload. You can also secure metadata and persistent data in cloud applications.
It is worth noting the development of the AISHU ecosystem. The products are tightly integrated with each other and together create a solution to protect against ransomware attacks. AnyBackup protects system data, application data, and AnyShare data, as well as ensuring continued operation when the main site crashes and flexible RPO and RTO. AnyBackup components (such as Immutable Storage and Forced Data Retention) help to provide complete backup protection and prevent malicious users from deleting backups.
At the same time, AnyShare uses encryption with a DLP client, historical file versioning, as well as their analysis and real-time behavior using AnyRobot to protect data.
It provides machine data analysis and visualization for AnyBackup and AnyShare. The product itself is designed to provide global transaction tracking and predictive analytics.
AISHU offers two support plans: Standard - a standard support level with 8/5 service local time and access to documentation, distributions, community portal and online trainings; Advanced is an extended level of 24/7 support, which includes such additional features as the generation of analytical reports, operational inspection, dedicated service and some others. More details can be found on the Customer Support Plan page.
The product itself has two licensing versions: Enterprise and Express. AnyBackup licensing consists of an essential module, capacity licenses and options. The Essential Module is the base component of the AnyBackup family. It must be added and activated before licenses and capacity options. The acquisition of licenses takes place in accordance with your actual needs. I propose to study it in more detail on the official website of Components of Licenses.
Short-list comparison of Chinese and Russian backup and recovery products
The following table presents the comparison of some Chinese and Russian products' features.
*The information is taken from official public sources of the vendors. In case of discrepancies, please provide feedback indicating the inaccuracy with a link to the official source.
**Possibly oVirt-based virtualizations such as zVirt may be supported, but they are not officially supported. Support for such virtualizations has not been tested.
***For backing up virtual environments, you must install a special plugin on the virtualization host, which will allow you to perform backups without installing agents on the virtual machines themselves.
To sum up
Backup and recovery solutions is an important and integral part of the IT infrastructure. Therefore, the selection of a B&R software should be approached reasonably. Some basic questions should be answered before selecting a product.
What RPOs/RTOs are required for business systems and applications?
What backup windows are required?
Where will the backups be stored?
What storage will be used for DR?
What virtualization systems are used?
What OS are used on servers and workstations? What applications are used?
What DBs and in what configuration are to be backed up?
What recovery granularity is required?
Are tape libraries supposed to be used?
Is integration with a central monitoring system needed?
After answering these questions you can begin drawing up technical requirements and choosing the most optimal solution. Chasing the big name of the vendor is pointless. First of all, it is worth proceeding from the task at hand, and after that you can choose a solution. This approach can ensure the availability and safety of your data much better.