Virtualization Back-Up Strategy
Happy New Year! With a fresh new year comes an opportunity to tackle some of the items that you may have put off because they were not the most urgent on your list but something you know needs to be addressed because it is important. For many this task may be evaluating your current Virtualization back up strategy. There are many ways to accomplish your virtualization backups. In order to choose the most efficient and effective solution you need to consider the specifics of your particular organization and decide which combination is the right fit for you.
Traditional backup systems have a one-to-one relationship with servers. These tried-and-true backup systems and associated software already support storage-area networks (SAN), fiber optics, and the latest operating system and server hardware updates. But they are not geared specifically for the complex world of virtualization, which involves multiple guest operating systems on the same box.
In todays virtualized environment backups and being able to recover from a disaster is a vital part of any business continuity and plan. There are multiple mediums and resources available to help develop a solid recovery plan. Today there are three popular strategies for backing up an organizations virtual infrastructure. The first and most common solution is putting software agents on each virtual machine and then using traditional back up software. A second approach is to create an image of the VM and use a storage service hosted somewhere else or take daily snapshots of the logical unit number (LUN).
A third alternative is to utilize a tool that incrementally archives the VM. This means that it copies only what has changed since the last back up. The major benefit to this solution is that it allows the capability to restore a single file, even from one of the 27 guest operating systems that all reside on the physical server.
Many organizations go the route of backup agents and traditional backup software because that’s what they have done in the past in their physical server environment. Be cautious when considering this approach, costs can be high because of the number and scale of the VMs and licensing required.
A new trend that more and more organizations or moving towards is VM snaphots. Creating a mirror of the VM volumes provides more flexibility, reduces costs and allows a company to substantiate and entire location.
Another popular solution being implemented today is continuous data protection. For environments that have little tolerance for downtime continuous data protection can greatly reduce the time of recovery and administrative support required for the recovery.
Depending on what is most critical to your organization a combination or blend of these approaches may be the best solution. The blended solution may add more management complexity but the restoration process is more efficient and effective. A critical factor in your virtualized backup solution is to make sure that you have the ability to test and successfully restore from backup to a production ready environment. One of the key benefits in working with a virtualized environment is that it is rather easy to set up a separate test area on a different subnet that will allow you to confirm that the backup was done properly and that you can successfully recover from a disaster.
To read more about PEI and virtualization please visit https://www.pei.com/solutions/virtualization/
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-Jon Eyberg, PEI