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Modern data protection for virtual machines

Written by Nizar Elfarra, Pre Sales Director, CommVault.

Server virtualisation is a darling of IT administrators for a number of reasons: it delivers more efficiency and cost control than adding physical servers to accommodate the data explosion. It offers savings due to server consolidation, at the same time giving enterprises valued flexibility and scalability, and promises to make the transformation to cloud architectures, whether private or hybrid, faster and simpler.

While IT embraces these apparent benefits, administrators are facing the challenges that come along with such a momentous shift in the way we now process, store and protect our data. Server virtualisation has become a powerful change agent, forcing IT organisations to evaluate and oftentimes modernise their backup and recovery approach for virtual machines. It is also enhancing the need for automated processes as IT must manage and control data protection with the same degree of effectiveness it exhibited in legacy systems.

Increasing use of server virtualisation is among the top priorities of IT professionals, along with improving data backup and recovery, managing data growth, and data centre consolidation. Transitioning to this virtual environment puts added demands on backup and recovery and on meeting service level agreements (SLAs) for critical applications.

Below are five areas in which IT can use available data protection technologies to realise the full potential of virtualisation:

Advanced Backup and Recovery
Enterprises who attempt to use traditional, legacy, data protection techniques for the backup and recovery of data housed in the modern data centre will find out these methods simply do not work. What is needed is a modern data protection approach that understands virtualisation and can support private and public cloud architectures. The solution should minimise the load on production systems, reduce administrative effort, enhance data protection and recovery and ease the transition to a virtualised data centre. It should leverage any tier of infrastructure including public and hybrid cloud, to extend disaster recovery (DR) capabilities to more workloads and reduce DR costs.

Tier 1 Application Support
As more critical, Tier 1 applications (such as SQL and Exchange) move into the virtual environment, it is imperative that your data protection solution provide you with deep application integration to enable rapid recovery and to meet the most stringent SLAs. Features, such as application consistent protection, perform background tasks to ensure applications are protected in a consistent and rapidly recoverable state. This ensures rapid and granular recovery options are available for the protected application, even when running in a virtual deployment.

Seamless Scalability
How do you manage and control the deployment of anywhere from dozens to hundreds of virtual machines? As your enterprise data use continues to grow, and you transition more applications to virtual servers, a resilient, scalable architecture becomes vital. This is critical since many point solutions, supposedly “purpose-built” for VM, lack the scale and resiliency feature sets required for the enterprise, and result in myriad hidden costs in the form of extra hardware appliances and 3rd party software. The solution should be able to protect hundreds of virtual machines in minutes and provides a grid-based architecture so that your enterprise can grow seamlessly from initial deployment to cloud-based infrastructure with no hidden costs or surprises.

Automated VM Management
Controlling VM sprawl and ensuring that increased VM usage does not create unwanted risks is a paramount concern of IT administrators. Policy-based VM archiving is a great way to eliminate VM sprawl and increase resource utilisation.

Automation enables IT to simplify testing and development, leaving no VM unprotected thanks to features like automated VM discovery. It also allows IT to identify idle or stale VMs, thus automatically reclaiming wasted resources.

Agnostic Platform Support
Some organisations are now migrating Tier 2 applications from VMware to Microsoft Hyper-V, which is embedded within Windows Server. As a result, there is an even greater need for a data protection solution that can support more than one platform including VMware vCentre, vCloud Director and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Transitioning more of your IT operations to virtual machines does pose new challenges in terms of protecting data in multiple environments, whether private or public clouds, or VMware or Microsoft Hyper-V. IT administrators have faced the aggravation of trying to find solutions that can be integrated into an enterprise’s current infrastructure without unwanted expense and complexity. Solutions do exist today that are designed to support both the physical and virtual environments and offer full protection and recovery of data housed in your legacy systems as well as data flowing through the cloud. It is important for CIOs and IT managers to do their research and implement a modern solution that ticks all the boxes.

About the author
Nizar Elfarra is Pre-Sales Director at CommVault. He has rich technical experience in data management. Prior to joining CommVault, Nizar held senior technical positions at EMC, Nortel, Sun Microsystems and Symantec.


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