Virtualisation is no longer a trend; it has become a reality for organisations. Although many are embracing virtualisation platforms, quite often the approach to backing up the data on their virtual servers is not well thought-out. In this article I’d like to explain the challenges of data protection in virtual environments and how companies can address them.
Impact On IT
Virtualisation is amongst the most important technologies to have impacted mid-sized and large IT organisations in recent years. It offers substantial flexibility and cost benefits; enabling IT managers and systems administrators to consolidate servers, allow additional capacity for applications on demand, correctly configure servers for testing and address disaster recovery, and business continuity, concerns more effectively.
Each business has a different set of challenges. Businesses moving to a virtualised environment often find themselves searching for efficient ways to plan and manage new environments, which also impact the IT department in terms of training and outsourcing. Ensuring a backup solution is in place from the off-set can often provide a business with valuable peace of mind.
Virtualisation & Backup
Virtualisation can make backup more complex, so organisations often find they need backup technologies specifically designed for virtualised environments. These solutions should have the ability to quickly restore data, settings and applications – without the manual re-installation of the operating system.
In physical systems, the data is maintained on each machine and backed up by an agent or client (in a client-server architecture). When transferring this pattern to the virtual world, it is easier to install an agent in each virtual machine, and is the smallest change to the backup strategy. This is recommended especially for small companies that only have small virtual environments or database systems and is often the simplest first step for these companies.
A far more efficient approach is agentless backup at a hypervisor level, as it provides a variety of advantages. For optimum adaptation to the virtual world, own interfaces are used to secure the data of the virtual machine as VMware. This conserves resources, only requires an agent / client and is much easier to manage.
If a company only wants one solution for backing up its virtual environment they should research and identify a hybrid solution: this intelligent approach understands all IT environments and the specifics of the virtual world, but nevertheless can act across different environments. It is vital for companies to clearly identify whether they need a dedicated or a comprehensive solution.
Transition To Virtual
There are a myriad of solutions in the market but businesses should carefully select an option that’s suited to their environment. For example, a solution that can support and protect all business-critical systems – whether they are physical, virtual or in the cloud – will allow the greatest flexibility.
Centralised management of one solution diminishes the number of backup operations the internal IT needs to manage, freeing up time to concentrate on their expertise of innovating and optimising performance. Once a company has made the decision to go virtual, the transitional period must be carefully planned. Data needs to be protected before, during and after migration in order to maintain business continuity should anything go wrong.
With virtualisation technology moving from a trend to a reality, I believe that in 2015 the growing trend to use more than one virtualisation platform in a company will continue and that companies should make sure protect all data across any platforms and environments.