Vizioncore, a start-up backed by management product vendor Quest Software, says it can eliminate the complexity of using VMware virtual machines for disaster recovery.The company is selling a Windows-based tool called esxRanger\u00a0designed to allow IT administrators to set policies for backing up and restoring virtual files.The product can be used to schedule hot backups of VMware ESX Server virtual machines - software files that contain an operating system, application and related data, and are separated from the underlying hardware. The backed-up files are compressed to make more efficient use of bandwidth and storage hardware, says David Bieneman, founder and CEO of Vizioncore.Without esxRanger, ESX Server customers can power down virtual machines and copy them or use complicated Linux scripts to automate the task, Bieneman says."What we do is make recurring-image backup reliable - without shutting down, without interruption," he says. "We make it so that any level of administrator can do it."Citgo, for example, brought in VMware ESX Server about one and a half years ago to consolidate its file and print servers for more centralized management. Initially, the petroleum company planned to use scripting to back up some 32 virtual machines it has running on four IBM blade servers, but found esxRanger better met its needs."With the combination of VMware, esxRanger and Tivoli backup, disaster recovery is much easier than [with] individual servers," says Ron Folds, system analyst at Citgo Petroleum in Sulphur, La. "This is because the [VMware virtual disk] file is the actual server. After the vmdk file is restored you have the server with the correct configuration, [provided you keep your vmdk file backed up as changes to the servers are made.] You then apply the latest incremental backup and you are back in production."Folds says he'll be looking at esxRanger Professional, which Vizioncore is set to release this week. EsxRanger Professional links with VMware's Virtual Center, software that manages and monitors virtual machines and, with VMotion, can move running virtual machines from one physical system to another.In addition, esxRanger Professional includes database and reporting functions that give users tools to log backup times, monitor compression, check on the status of backups and record the location of virtual machines on different storage logical unit numbers (LUN).Analysts say Vizioncore is focusing on a good area, as interest in server-virtualization technology is on the rise, and VMware holds about half of the market. Since Vizioncore released the GUI for esxRanger about a year ago, it says it has signed up 700 customers, including Avon, Coca-Cola and Gap.The reason is that as users combine VMware with increasingly powerful x86 platforms to consolidate important business workloads, they're finding that the need to protect data on those systems is critical, says Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT Research."If businesses are relying on x86 systems, where do they go for innovative solutions, such as for disaster recovery?" he says. "That's where [Vizioncore] can fit in."EsxRanger is priced at $300 per ESX Server CPU, and esxRanger Professional is priced at $500 per ESX Server CPU. Both products tie into higher-level management and disaster-recovery tools from companies such as CommVault, EMC, HP, IBM and Veritas, Bieneman says.