The whole of System Centre is getting a revamp this year so we aren’t just looking at a new version of Virtual Machine Manager, but also a new version of Data Protection Manager.
In DPM 2012, there is support for protecting VMM 2012 and 2008 R2, along with item level recovery of VM contents even when DPM is running inside a VM (it used to require a physical host so that it could use the Hyper-V role) and rapid block level backups of VMs running on stand-alone hosts.
As ever with DPM, you can protect at the host level or the guest level.
If you back up at the host level, you can protect or recover the whole machine. You can protect non-Windows servers and line-of-business applications without VSS writers. However, there is no granularity of backup – it is the whole thing.
By comparison, if you back up on the guest, you protect or recover data specifically, e.g. SQL database, Exchange, SharePoint, etc. It is equivalent to protecting a physical version of that server.
Backing up VMM provides full application backup of the VMM database to disk and tape, and supports original location recovery and restore as files to a network location.
DPM seamlessly protects Live Migrating VMs on CSV (cluster shared volume) Clusters. However, in my experience, for this to work optimally, the storage hardware must support VSS. Without that support, DPM can only backup through the node that “owns” the CSV storage. Either way, the VM is backed up regardless of which node in the cluster hosts the VM.
For recovery, you can restore the VM back to the original host or cluster, or you can restore the VM to a different host or cluster, or you can perform item level recovery (individual files from within the VHDs) to a file share.
If you have primary & secondary DPM sites and the primary site goes down, the DPM admin switches protection to the DPM DR server and backup & recovery of production servers continues seamlessly. DPM does a good job of bare metal recovery as well.