Server virtualization has many benefits. These benefits are fueling the growth of virtual server deployments, which in many cases are large scale. Server consolidations contribute to operating cost savings, and bring flexibility and agility. Today, virtualization technologies are being used in most modern data centers; as a result, users enjoy unprecedented technologies that include private and/or public cloud infrastructures.
However, virtual servers have also brought forward some negative aspects when it comes to data protection. For instance, the high rate of server consolidations has resulted in massively converged IT infrastructure, which contributed to reductions in human and hardware resources. At the same time, the volume of data has been growing exponentially, and this has further complicated the management and protection of data.
Virtual servers allow applications to run with flexibility and better uptime. At the same time, they help deliver the Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs) agreed to in Service Level Agreements (SLAs).
Keep in mind that data backup and recovery cannot rely exclusively on the legacy methods of streaming, copying data from the production side to the backend. Backup and recovery must also have a minimal front-end impact.
CommVault Identifies the Five Basic Challenges of Virtual Server Data Protection:
1. Exploding Backup Windows: High server consolidation and high virtual machine (VM) density concentrate data ownership to a small number of physical servers, with most resources dedicated for production workloads.
2. Unprotected Virtual Machine Data: The ease of deploying new VMs leads to a virtual machine sprawl. This makes it tedious and time consuming for administrators to keep track of new virtual machines and to ensure that correct data protection and retention policies are applied to them. There is a major risk that important virtual machines may be created but never get backed up.
3. Lack of Application Integration: As more and more mission-critical applications—like SQL, Exchange and Oracle—are virtualized, it is necessary to provide the same levels of protection and recovery capabilities for these applications as they had in a purely physical server setting, while also staying within the constraints imposed by a highly consolidated, virtualized environment.
4. Inadequate Recovery Points: With high data growth and change rates, relying on last night’s backup for recovery is no longer sufficient. In addition, as organizations deploy more critical applications within a virtual server context, they are demanding RPOs of hours, not days or weeks.
5. Lack of Restore Granularity: To further accelerate restores, organizations require an integrated approach to restoring data granularly at the volume, file or application object level. The ability to restore an individual e-mail or file from within a virtual machine datastore is critical for ensuring application uptime and for meeting availability and uptime SLAs.
With the right solution, tangible benefits from server deployments can be realized while transitioning from a traditional to a modern, sophisticated data center. For instance, it is possible to create a secondary copy of data for archiving and retention that can also enable rapid and efficient disaster recovery.
So how can these challenges be handled? If you want to properly implement virtualization and reap its benefits, you must overcome the challenges of virtual server protection by implementing an innovative approach that allows you to rapidly modernize data protection and management. To do virtualization right, you must also take advantage of the public and private cloud infrastructure.