Inexpensive ESXi Backup Solution?

We have a Dell PowerEdge T310 running ESXi 4.1 with 2 Virtual Server 2008 R2 hosts.  It currently has no backup.

We are looking for an inexpensive backup solution (hardware & software), that can do image and file-level based backups for disaster recovery.

Should we upgrade to ESXi 5 first?

What do you recommend for software & hardware solutions?
CTS-TechAsked:
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Checkout My article

VMware ESX/ESXi Backup Guide

It depends on really whether you have Licensed or FREE ESXi.

Unless you have a requirement to use new features for ESXi 5.0, I would personally hold off.

Veeam Backup and Replication is the ALL TIME Best Product!
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CTS-TechAuthor Commented:
I believe it is the free version...
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Okay, well you are very limited with that you can do with the Free version of ESXi 4.1 or 5.0, because Backup products cannot access the Licensed APIs.

To unlock those, you must have a licensed version, the entry level cost is $500 USD for Essentials, which gives you licenses for 3 hosts, and vCenter. Then you can use the Free Scripts arround like GhettoVCB to backup. Or $500 a processor for a Veeam Backup and Replication License.

If you want to backup machines, at the image block level whilst the VMs are powered-on.
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CTS-TechAuthor Commented:
What about Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 2011?
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
BESR will work well since it allows for P2V, V2V, and V2P.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery 2011 it's okay, but not the best of the bunch!
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Checkout the following whitepaper!

The Right Tool for the Job:
Veeam vs. Symantec and Other Legacy Methods
http://go.veeam.com/wp-performance-analysis-vmware-vsphere-environment-continuity-fegreus.html?ad=vmware-esx-backup
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Cheapest Inexpensive solution is here

ghettoVCB

http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-8760
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CTS-TechAuthor Commented:
So about $1000 for Software - VSphere Essentials and Veeam.

Going the other route:  Will the BESR work for backing up the VMs via image, even though it will be ran on Virtual Machines?  Or will I need to run BESR from a different box?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
You can run BESR on a virtual machine, but I believe it cannot backup itself, you would need to check this, it keeps changing based on service pack.

Yes, 500 usd for Essentials, and Veeam is 500 per processor.
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Paul SolovyovskySenior IT AdvisorCommented:
BESR will need to be backed up to a different machine, most likely physical in case your vmware environment goes down.  Can be regular file share
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CTS-TechAuthor Commented:
Can BESR and/or Veeam be run from a 3rd Virtual Machine on the same Server, that only backs up the other 2 to an external drive?
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
Yes.
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CTS-TechAuthor Commented:
Looks like SSR Server 2011 is around $500 per Server, and the Virtual edition (which covers all VMs) is around $1700.

So for 2+ VMs on an ESXi Server - it would make more sense to upgrade ESXi to Essentials and get Veeam.
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
That's correct, and Veeam is a far better product.
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