EMC today introduced the first major upgrade to its Avamar deduplication backup software, which integrates with the company's Data Domain appliances to give administrators a single view of their EMC backup environments.

Using VMware's vStorage API, Avamar 6.0 can perform centralised virtual machine (VM) backups to Data Domain appliances without having to run backup tasks from inside each individual VM.

"You're bringing Avamar deduplication and Data Domain deduplication under a single backup management application," said Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing. "We have lot of customers who use Data Domain and Avamar. This allows customers to consolidate backup software through the Avamar solution. So you can use Avamar across enterprise workloads."

The new version of Avamar also includes changed-block tracking support, which tracks incremental changes to blocks and files - When an administrator needs to perform a data restore, only the changed data is needed, which alleviates the need to restore full backups.

"That reduces the amount of data that needs to be processed," said Rob Emsley, senior director of product marketing. "If you can restore only what's needed to create a full copy of the data, then the benefit is that you can recovery more quickly."

Andrew Grech, infrastructure and operations manager of Corporate Express, a Dutch office supply company, said his organisation beta tested Avamar 6.0 and saw "distinct value" in the ability to backup "additional environments using Avamar with Data Domain".

"If we can consolidate other backups, such as Oracle and Exchange, using Avamar to backup to Data Domain [let's] avoid working with custom scripts and benefit from that same level of simplicity," he said.

Grech added that data restores with Avamar are simple and don't require the involvement of the Corporate Express infrastructure group.

"They are purely driven by our frontline help desk team," he said. "The integration of these two EMC products is a huge benefit to us."

Avamar 6.0 also adds image-level backup, which uses a so-called "virtual proxy server" for backups, meaning it creates a layer of abstraction between VMs and backup servers - allowing backup servers to be seen as a flexible pool for VM backup configuration purposes.

EMC also added what it called "flexible image recovery options" to the latest version of Avamar. The feature allows IT administrators to replace a virtual machine with corrupted data with any backup image. This is instead of having to restore the data through the latest full backup of the VM, which could also be corrupted.