Virtualization technology is useful for a variety of reasons, particularly where reducing costs are concerned, but one way virtualization can help people immensely is through its use in backup and disaster recovery. It’s easy to see the benefits of cost savings, but virtualization saves businesses in more ways than on equipment and power costs. When used as part of a backup and disaster recovery plan, virtualization technologies can save businesses money by dramatically reducing downtime and its associated costs.
With virtualization and backup and disaster recovery in mind, I thought I’d weigh in on some of the more common questions people have about the role of virtualization in a modern backup and disaster recovery plan.
How can virtualization contribute to a backup and disaster recovery plan?
That’s easy: flexibility. Typically, a virtualization discussion will always circle around benefits such as reduced cost, smaller server footprints, faster provisioning, and even the “green” advantages of virtualized environments. These are all legitimate benefits, but when you include virtualization in your backup and disaster recovery planning, the real value is in the flexibility that it provides, especially when it comes to recovery, which, by the way, is really where the rubber meets the road.
A great example of using virtualization technologies in recovery is StorageCraft VirtualBoot technology, which allows any machine protected with ShadowProtect to be virtualized and operational in minutes, not in an hour or two. Another huge benefit of leveraging virtualization is the ability to frequently test the disaster recovery plan. It’s difficult to truly test the overall business continuity plan without a great deal of disruption to the business because these plans usually include everything from personnel to facilities to IT. But by leveraging virtualization technologies, the cost in time and resources can be dramatically reduced when testing the disaster recovery component of a business continuity plan.
What are some ways ShadowProtect can aid users with virtualization tasks?
Outside of providing a very reliable backup for any virtual machine, ShadowProtect can also be utilized as a key component in a virtual migration strategy. The move from physical to virtual has the potential of being both time consuming and complicated. ShadowProtect provides the tools necessary to migrate entire systems from a physical machine to a wide range of hyper-visors such as VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, Citrix XenServer, Oracle VirtualBox, and RedHat KVM.
Because much of the industry is moving toward virtualization, whether locally or in the cloud, many businesses operate in hybrid environments that contain both physical and virtual machines. This presents some particular challenges for backup and disaster recovery. What are some of the biggest of these challenges and how does one overcome them?
Hybrid environments are becoming more and more common in the datacenter. Although they’re not unique, the problems that they present when it comes to backup and disaster recovery are. Finding a single vendor that provides solid solutions for both physical and virtual environments can be challenging.
Compatibility, flexibility, portability, and reliability are still critical components, even in these hybrid environments. The flexibility to restore a physical machine to a virtual machine (P2V) or vice versa allows the administrator in a hybrid environment the ability to leverage all of the resources that are available. Utilizing the same replication technologies for both physical and virtual backups cuts down administration and maintenance costs. Consistent formats in backup files of physical and virtual machines also allow the administrator the same recovery methodologies across different platforms.
What are the best ways to manage these hybrid environments, and what are some backup and disaster recovery best practices to make things simpler?
Focusing on keeping backup and disaster recovery plans as simple and straightforward as possible is critical to the success of any recovery, in any type of IT environment. Although the administration of hybrid environments can be complex, the backup and disaster recovery strategies of those environments don’t have to be. The key is finding solutions that are not platform specific, that is, solutions that view physical machines and virtual machines the same. The flexibility you get from these types of solutions can make working in hybrid environments just as simple as working in entirely physical or entirely virtual environments.