Now that virtualization is making its way deeper into enterprise infrastructure, the issue of reliability has gathered in importance.
No one expects virtual systems to provide 100 percent reliability, but when they do fail it has become more crucial to get them back online as quickly as possible.
While the question of how best to do that is up for debate, one thing is clear: Virtual backup will likely shift the conversation away from restoring data and files toward re-launching the virtual machines that house them.
Vizioncore is one of a new breed of management and automation developers that is arguing for a radical new approach to backup and recovery in the virtual era. The company is touting an image-based approach to virtual B&R in its new Backup 2.0 system for VMware environments, which it says will break the need to run separate backup jobs for each recovery scenario. By shifting from file recovery to image recovery, organizations will see faster recovery of more disparate types of data and come to depend on fewer physical resources to make it happen.
Traditional automation and management vendors are quickly moving to bring virtual backup capabilities on board, in the hope that a single management stack that governs physical, virtual and even cloud resources will win the day. Symantec, for example, recently unveiled Backup Exec 2010 with a series of new tools such as granular data recovery aimed more at virtual servers themselves than individual files.
3PAR is taking a similar approach with its new InForm plug-ins for VMware vSphere and vCenter platforms. The package provides tools like virtual machine snapshots, online VM recovery and VM-to-storage mapping. The goal is to simplify the recovery process by forging direct links to the virtualization platforms themselves and avoiding the sometimes tricky process of moving VMs to offline storage during recovery.
And even the platform providers themselves are quickly adding to their backup capabilities. VMware recently came out with VMware Data Recovery (VDR), which improves on the old VMware Consolidated Backup by adding true backup capabilities to vCenter, rather than just a window into the VMFS file system for third-party B&R software.
At the moment, few enterprises are running mission-critical applications in virtual environments, so backup is probably not a crucial need. But as I've mentioned in the past, the time to put recovery mechanisms in place is before they are truly needed, not after.
And as the enterprise continues to go virtual, that time is quickly approaching.