Virtualization Is Great for Backup and Recovery, but...


Server virtualization -- the separation of functionality from the underlying hardware -- offers a tremendous number of advantages. But, according to a Symantec survey, there is a decided downside to this marriage.


The survey, which looked at the opinions of 1,000 organizations, revealed that a lot is slipping through the virtual cracks. The firm found that 35 percent of virtual servers are not included in their firm's disaster recovery planning, according to the internetnews.com story on the survey. The piece said only 37 percent of respondents said they backed up more than 90 percent of their virtual servers. When companies virtualize, only 64 percent reassess and, if necessary, adjust their backup and disaster recovery plans.


A reason may be the lack of adquate tools: Symantec found that there are too many management tools and not enough of them are automated. In short, what is available, despite the number, is inadequate.


Despite these issues, virtualization is an important road to disaster recovery. This posting is, in essence, the executive summary of a white paper to which it links. Instead of focusing on the dangers outlined by Symantec, the white paper positions virtualization as an invaluable aid to disaster recovery. The takeaway is that savvy virtualization can provide far more flexibility and quicker responses in case of an emergency. And it can cut costs. David Demlow, the CTO of Double-Take, concurs. He told IT Business Edge in April that virtualization makes it unnecessary to buy standby machines.


This DABCC piece definitely comes out in favor of virtualized disaster recovery. Indeed, while the writer says disaster recovery is one of the key drivers for corporate adoption of virtualization, he adds that it is not a panacea. After making the case for virtualization, the writer dives into some details. Using VMware's ESX for illustrative purposes, he lists 11 steps that must be manually accomplished for virtual machine recovery. He notes the difficulty of automating these steps but says that VMware industry dominance has enabled it to achieve a high level of automation in its Site Recovery Manager product.


Small businesses face many of the same decisions regarding virtualization. The key difference, however, is that in many cases they will lack the expertise and manpower to make such drastic and basic changes to their infrastructure. It's interesting that this blogger listed backup and disaster recovery before mentioning resource consolidation and infrastructure gains as advantages virtualization brings to small businesses. He says that virtualization provides the ability to make server resources, which now are handled as files, more portable and that it is easier to create a disaster recovery process around them.