Performing Data Backup in a Virtual Environment

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    SMB Disaster Preparedness: A Recipe for Disaster

    SMBs are not making disaster preparedness a priority until after they experience a disaster or data loss.

    There is no doubt that virtualization can help ensure business continuity in the event of outages, or even speed up disaster recovery. But though I have written about data backups in general and offered tips for virtualization, I’ve never actually addressed the rather thorny issue of performing data backups in a mixed virtual and physical environment.

    Today, I want to tap into the expertise offered by Dan Nadir, who is the senior director of product management at Symantec, on this front.

    Avoid mixing different backup solutions

    Nadir opines that SMBs should consider adopting a solution that will handle both physical and virtual backups from a central control panel. Not only does the elimination of two processes helps reduce costs, but also facilities in speeding up the recovery process. In my mind, this also means that SMBs should avoid using different backup solutions.

    “As you assess backup solutions, carefully consider the user interface,” says Nadir. “A simpler solution will save a significant amount of time in the long run, and better enable users to take full advantage of its features.”

    Difference between physical and virtual assets

    For SMBs looking to external vendors for help with setting up their data backups, Nadir advised that they approach only providers who offer an integrated solution that can handle data backups on both virtual and physical resources.

    The inference here is clear: The procedures and methods for conducting a physical and virtualize backup differs, and SMBs need to be aware of this. And while many vendors are happy to provide a solution that handles virtual environments, Nadir cautioned that they often require a separate physical backup solution.

    Not all data is the same

    Not all data is equally important, says Nadir. One of the most important steps when it comes to putting together an effective backup program for physical and virtual assets is to eliminate the “infinite” retention policies employed by many SMBs.

    SMBs should ask themselves if they do indeed need to recover the most recent version versus earlier iterations of the same file, and segregate data into areas that need to be immediately accessible and those that do not. In addition, data that is required for the long term should preferably be archived to free up storage space on near-line storage devices.

    There has never been a better time to take steps to ensure productivity in the event of disaster, according to Nadir. “Adopting a single backup solution that works in both physical and virtual environments can keep information flowing smoothly and clear the road to productivity.”

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