Virtual server data backup is not a new phenomenon by a long shot. In fact, CIOs from various industries have been moving their organisations towards virtual backup servers for years and now they are playing a major role within enterprise’s security. CIOs are making this conscious move with the promise that virtual backup servers will help them to reduce their overheads, centralise the management of their backup systems, and even improve the overall performance and efficiency of their backup and disaster recovery- making it easier to pick back up where they left in the event of a disaster.
So, how does this work exactly? Virtualised servers run everything, your applications, and data in the one package and this can be moved around as required, and they can be cloned into another physical server if the original one fails.
Although this all sounds wonderful, it is still important for CIOs to consider exactly what they want from the virtual backup server and set their expectations prior to diving into making this very crucial final decision. This is why we have created a list of the 4 key questions that every CIO should be asking about virtual server data backup and protection:
1. How is the virtual server backup process different?
It is imperative that CIOs appreciate how the backup process operates in regards to virtual servers in comparison to the traditional methods that they will be used to managing and monitoring. There are a few key differences, but the one that stands out the most and may cause the most issues is the increased amount of data that needs to be backed up. When deploying a virtual backup server, you must backup the operating system, your applications, and all your data, so there are heavier demands on server resources. Also, CIOs need to understand that you cannot recover just one single file within the virtual server, you have to backup the entire machine to recover the singular file.
2. What are your virtual backup expectations and business goals?
Through doing research you will discover that in recent years there has been an explosion of different virtual backup products and brand new start-ups being formed dedicated to solely providing virtual backup services. In order for CIOs to not get lost in this sea of vendors, they must be able to assess what are the important features and service provisions that they expect to receive from their backup provider to guarantee the protection of their data. Establishing these expectations from the very outset will help to ensure that they select the best possible solution.
To find the best solution to fit your organisation CIOs must question their strategic business goals and try to source a backup solution that will align with them. Are your goals to reduce business risk, or is it to save the most amount of money or is it to speed up the data backup process and minimise the backup window? Have you considered the future goals of the organisation?
As you expand you must be able to find a virtual server solution that can scale alongside you. All these types of questions will aid in your evaluation and help to wean out the solutions that are not fit for your organisation's future. If you need to add on additional licenses and features down the line, that is just going to increase your costs and make it more complex to manage, so it is better to get your solution right at the very beginning.
3. Are you planning to go 100% virtual?
Many organisations and data centres are trying to become 100% server virtual, but are struggling to do so due to the challenge of reducing the virtual backup window whilst keeping traffic volume and information that is stored on the network at manageable levels. To ensure the protection of their data using a virtual server, backups need to been conducted twice, one for the physical server and one for the virtual server, to ensure absolute minimal down time. Also, when testing the effectiveness of a virtual server backup solution, the data will have to be restored onto another virtual server. This is why hybrid approaches of a virtual and physical servers are still very common to ensure a solid data backup solution.
If you are planning to go 100% virtual in the future then the solution you choose at the end of the day must be have the functionality and the flexibility to handle to the scale of information that it will have to manage whilst still performing effectively.
4. What does the future have in store for virtual backup servers?
CIOs need to look to the future of virtual backup servers to see what is in store later down the line. Yesterday's backup methods will not fit into the future of virtual backup servers, therefore when considering moving to a virtual server for your data backup solutions, you need to ensure that they can effectively protect your organisation's data for the future.
We are not going to be living in this install-agent-find-files-take-files backup method anymore, many are moving towards block-level storage instead of file level storage where data is stored in volume rather than singular files. This will definitely change your backup processes if that is the route you are going down.
Advancements in security, especially in terms of data encryptions is predicted to happen, as a vast amount of data centres currently do not encrypt their data or their backups. Also, network storage will be another area where developments will likely take place to ensure that no matter the amount of data stored, it will not compromise network performance for virtual backups.
CIOs should always be forward-looking and considering what new approaches and technologies may impact their virtual server solution in the future to ensure that they select the best possible solution for today.
Here at Backup Systems, we connect to virtual environments directly, including Microsoft Hyper-V, VMware ESX and Citrix XEN, which means your machines can be up and running again in a matter of minutes – with virtually no downtime.
We can take backups at any specified intervals, whether that’s daily, weekly or in ‘real time’ as systems are constantly running. The storage of the images employs block level de-duplication which minimises the amount of storage space actually used.
Regardless of whether disaster strikes, hardware fails or data loss occurs. We’ll be able to restore your virtual environment exactly as it was – not only will your virtual hard disks be backed up, but also the full virtual machine configuration.
Interested in learning more about virtual server backups?
Click below to read our service guide which goes into more detail about what Backup Systems can provide to guarantee the protection of your organisation's data.