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Taking Virtualization to the Next Level

October 31, 2011

Summary

Gartner Inc. expects that 50% of enterprise workloads will be running in virtual machines by the end of next year. Is your backup and recovery process up to the challenge?
Gartner Inc. made headlines not long ago when it predicted that 50% of enterprise workloads would be running in virtual machines by the end of 2012.¹ Generating less attention at the time were Gartner’s words of caution: namely, that as more workloads are virtualized, as workloads of different trust levels are combined, and as virtualized workloads become more mobile, the data protection issues associated with virtualization will become more critical.
This article looks at the backup and recovery issues your organization needs to address as you virtualize more of your workloads and how Symantec’s V-Ray technology provides needed visibility into virtual environments.

Bad things can happen in the dark

As effective as it is for maximizing server utilization, virtualization can create problems for data protection. For example, the proliferation of servers can make backup configurations more time-consuming and add complexity to backups and restores. Other challenges include:
  • Virtual machine “sprawl”—VMs by design are easy to deploy and clone, which explains why VM “sprawl” is a growing concern. Many IT managers would be hard pressed to say exactly how many VMs they’re running and whether they’re all protected. VM sprawl increases storage resources and can have a sharply negative impact on tight IT budgets.
  • Two backup infrastructures—Keeping up with different toolsets to manage physical and virtual environments presents another challenge. Using one set of tools for protecting physical machines and another for protecting VMs is not only costly and inefficient and costly, but it creates a “siloed” view of the environment as well. According to the recent Symantec 2011 Backups in a Virtual Environment Flash Poll, 31% of the IT professionals surveyed reported using separate backup applications for their physical and virtual server environments. At the same time, three out of four of those respondents said they would prefer a single application for both environments.
  • Redundant data—Not surprisingly, a siloed approach to data protection can also lead to unnecessary backup storage growth, since much of the data across physical and virtual environments is redundant. Symantec estimates that integrated physical and virtual deduplication can reduce backup storage requirements by up to 90%. If you use a virtual-only backup solution, you’ll never attain such compression levels.

It’s time to modernize your backup and recovery process

As organizations begin to virtualize more and more of their business-critical applications, the stakes are raised dramatically. Capabilities that were sufficient in test and development labs during the early stages of virtualization will be severely challenged as virtualization becomes more ubiquitous. With an increasing number of workloads wrapped up inside virtual machines, organizations need a higher degree of visibility into their virtual environments than ever before.
V-Ray is the name for a group of Symantec technologies that give organizations greater visibility into their virtual environments and to the applications residing within their virtual machines. Embedded directly into Symantec NetBackup for enterprises and Backup Exec for SMBs, V-Ray helps provide unified data protection, deduplication, single-file recovery, and automated protection.
For example, 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. Unified data protection also enables you to apply consistent policies to virtual and physical environments.
Or consider recovery. Symantec estimates that upwards of 80% of the recovery requests received by IT staffs are for a single file. V-Ray enables you to see deep into virtual machine backup images to discover and recover a single file as quickly as possible. Instead of having to conduct two backup operations to achieve a single file and disaster recovery image, you only have to do one backup pass. All files are indexed and cataloged so that individual files can be located quickly.
You should also have the flexibility to recover single files from any storage medium—disk or tape—without having to recover the backup image to disk. Today you need to recover files in minutes, not in the hours or days that a manual VM restore, mount, and search shuffle can entail.

Conclusion

As companies accelerate their initiatives around virtualization, they’re coming face to face with the need to modernize their backup and recovery process. That’s because they now 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.
V-Ray technologies from Symantec can improve your backup and recovery strategy by providing greater transparency across physical and virtual environments through a single solution. V-Ray provides the visibility needed to peer inside your VMs and understand how to protect these systems and run them at the highest possible service level. Isn’t it time you stopped navigating in the dark when it comes to virtual environments?
  • ¹ "Analysts Examine the Growth in Server Virtualization During Gartner Symposium/ITxpo," October 2009

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