Virtual server backup is an effective method for ensuring against data loss and has many benefits, including reducing overheads, centralizing the management of backup systems and making disaster recovery much more efficient.
With many organizations moving towards virtual server data backup and protection in recent years, CIOs need to ensure they fully understand its potential and implications.
How do virtual backup servers work?
Physical servers use all of their processing power to perform a specific task or run a certain application, requiring a high level of space, power and money to operate. Virtual servers are more efficient with resources as they mimic the functionality of a physical server using virtual infrastructure.
Only requiring a single bare metal server, multiple virtual servers can be run with their own operating systems, independent provisioning and software. They create virtual environments based on the physical server’s resources and can mimic password and security systems for increased usability.
By dividing one physical dedicated server up into multiple virtual servers using specialist software, resources can be used more efficiently. This approach frees up the physical server to run multiple operating systems and applications.
How effective are virtual servers in guarding against data loss?
Virtual server data backup is essential, but many of the solutions available have limitations, although new tools are emerging. The most common issues are:
- Challenges of scale: The majority of solutions can’t handle the ever-growing amount of data being deployed to virtual servers
- Limitations to recovery: Businesses need more recovery options, such as the ability to restore a single corrupted file instead of an entire snapshot
- Breadth of support: Only being offered support on a single platform, when organizations require multiple platforms to virtualize all of their applications
- Complete integration: Deep application integration is necessary if virtual server data backup and protection is to perform to its full potential
What questions should every CIO be asking about virtual server data backup?
In order to get the most from virtual backup servers, CIOs should be asking questions of the technology and their own company. This will enable them to create a protection solution that works well for their organization within the parameters of virtual server innovation.
1. How will virtual server data backup differ from our current setup?
As CIOs will be managing and monitoring the new virtual server setup, they must be fully aware of the differences with traditional backup. The most striking change will be the sheer volume of data to be backed up, including the operating system, applications and all other data, placing more demand on servers.
When it comes to the reverse and a file needs to be retrieved from the virtual server, the backup for the entire machine must be restored. This is likely to be very different to the process many CIOs have been used to.
2. What are your business goals?
Aligning your backup solution with your strategic business goals is key to its success, so these should be clearly laid out. Areas where virtual servers can be particularly useful include:
- Reducing business risk
- Being cost effective
- Speeding up data processes
As well as ensuring you’re taking current goals into consideration, keep the future of the company in mind too. Selecting a solution that has the best chance of scaling alongside your business will ensure its use further down the line.
3. What do you expect from your virtual backup solution?
In recent years, the number of virtual backup services available has grown exponentially, so it’s important as a CIO to be clear on your expectations in order to choose the right provider. Deciding on the must-have features and service provisions you require from the outset will help you to remain clear on your business needs, keeping those all-important goals in mind.
4. Do you plan to go 100% virtual or adopt a hybrid solution?
Aiming to go 100% virtual may be the goal, but there are a number of roadblocks to achieving such ambitions all in one go. Companies are likely to want to minimize downtime, which is a challenge when backups need to be conducted for both the physical server and the virtual one.
Add to this the need for data to be stored on another virtual server while the effectiveness of the new solution is being tested and the situation becomes more complicated. This has led to a hybrid approach being taken in the first instance by many businesses, which is then followed up with increased virtual capacity.
5. How will your solution fit into future models?
Keeping one eye on the future and anticipating how your virtual backup servers will fit into evolving technology is a key element of your role as a CIO. Some of the predicted trends that are likely to impact your backup decisions include a move towards block-level storage, advancements in data encryption and network performance for virtual backups.