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A Master Plan for Improving Virtual Backups

August 5, 2011


In today’s world of virtualized IT and rapid data growth, you can’t afford to back up in the dark. You need visibility into virtual file systems and applications as well as transparent backup across physical and virtual silos. Learn how to escape the “Dark Ages” of data protection.
It’s no secret that the rise of virtualization and dramatic increases in corporate data have combined to create some unique pressures inside the data center. Companies today have the same or even less time to back up substantially larger data sets and high-density virtual environments. Meeting backup windows and successfully protecting data on a daily basis continue to be major pain points, putting recovery and business continuity at risk.
In this new world, traditional approaches to data protection just won’t work. That’s because they offer organizations little in the way of reducing complexity or lowering costs. What’s needed is an approach that provides organizations with the same visibility into their virtual environment that they have with their physical environment, while reducing complexity.
Continue reading to learn how your organization can escape the “Dark Ages” of data protection in virtual environments.

Symantec V-Ray provides the visibility you need

Although an increasing number of complex workloads are being wrapped up in virtual machines, enterprises are hard pressed to see inside these VMs to properly protect them. Without this visibility, VM managers have no way to answer crucial questions such as:
  • How can I protect both my virtualized and physical environments?
  • How quickly can I recover or discover data within my virtualized environments?
  • Am I running VM backups on huge amounts of redundant data?
  • How many VMs are running in my environment?
V-Ray is the name for a group of Symantec technologies that give organizations greater visibility into their virtual environments as well as transparent backup and recovery across physical and virtual environments. Embedded directly into Symantec NetBackup for enterprises and Backup Exec for SMBs, V-Ray helps improve unified data protection, deduplication, single-file recovery, and automated protection.
  • Unified data protection. For enterprises, V-Ray visibility helps NetBackup unite critical data-protection capabilities such as deduplication, advanced virtual machine backup, snapshots, continuous data protection, and replication—all through one console. Benefits to organizations include more standardization and consistent policies and SLAs; an end to duplicated work by backup and VM groups; and lower operational costs. Bottom line: separate solutions for physical and virtual backups just add complexity.
  • Greater visibility for global deduplication. Deduplication technologies typically look at files and search for blocks or segments within those files that have been backed up already. These technologies take the same approach when deduplicating virtual machine vmdk files. They treat these (usually very large) files like any other files and simply try to find blocks that match other blocks already backed up. But vmdk files aren’t just simple files. They’re virtual machine containers that hold OS files such as Microsoft Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. Thanks to V-Ray, NetBackup can look deep inside these vmdk files. It then takes this information and deduplicates the files that exist inside a vmdk file against files that exist on a physical system. This means that, for the first time, organizations have a deduplication technology that deduplicates data from the virtual world to the physical world. In addition, deep integration with VMware vStorage APIs means NetBackup supports changed block tracking, a block-level incremental backup implementation.
  • Single-file recovery. While snapshots provide administrators with a quick fix for backing up a large amount of data, recovering individual files from a snapshot can be as difficult as searching for a needle in a haystack. V-Ray visibility into virtual backup images provides administrators with the ability to index, search for, and restore single files or an entire virtual machine from a single backup pass of a VM. Files can be restored directly from any backup storage. NetBackup doesn’t require you to restage the VM before the restore.
  • Automated protection. Virtual machines are designed to be easy to clone and deploy, which explains why virtual machine “sprawl” is a growing management challenge within IT organizations today. Many IT managers would be hard pressed to say exactly how many virtual machines they’re running and whether they are all being protected. And as the number of servers being virtualized grows, management of backup and recovery becomes more problematic. With VMware Intelligent Policy and V-Ray in NetBackup, administrators can automatically discover new, cloned, or moved VMs and protect them without having to edit backup policies.

NetBackup performance benchmark results

Getting the best backup results is always a team effort, involving multiple technologies brought together to provide the best performance. To test virtual machine protection for the VMware environment, Cisco, VMware, and Symantec collaborated on a series of joint backup performance benchmarks involving Symantec NetBackup, VMware vSphere, and the Cisco UCS platform. For the purpose of these tests, full backups were performed by a single VMware backup host (the Cisco UCS) with a backup window of 60 hours and an average VM size of 40GB. The results were as follows:
  • The ability to protect more than 3,200 VMs on a single backup host.
  • Effective media server throughput of 600MB per second.
  • Deduplication rates of more than 98% (using NetBackup 7 Media Server Dedupe).
Clearly, running NetBackup with integrated deduplication technology provides a significant performance enhancement that changes the dynamics of virtual machine backups.


In today’s complex world of virtualized IT and unprecedented data growth, organizations can’t afford to back up in the dark. They need visibility. NetBackup, powered by Symantec V-Ray, offers visibility into virtual file systems and applications as well as transparent backup and recovery across physical and virtual silos. That means increased IT agility, paving the way for realizing the true savings potential of virtualization.

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