The benefits of server virtualization are many. Increasingly, solution providers are fielding requests to transition customers to large scale virtual server deployments. Benefits include cost savings, to business flexibility to application agility. Virtualization technologies are rapidly becoming the heart of the modern data center. Here, Phil Curran, senior product marketing manager at CommVault, offers five tips on implementing such solutions.—Jennifer Bosavage, editor
As virtualization has steadily moved out of test/development environments and into the mainstream data center to support business and tier-one applications, customers are faced with new challenges related to the protection and management of data on virtual servers – and virtual machines (VMs) themselves. Technology solution providers that understand these challenges are best positioned to become valued and trusted advisors for their customers.
Here are five guiding principles solution providers can use to establish a leading practice in virtual server data protection and help their customers deploy virtual servers more simply and quickly.
1. Choose a backup solution that is performance-optimized for the virtual platform.
The benefits of virtualized and cloud-based infrastructure such as workload consolidation, cost savings, application agility and reduced physical footprint are well documented. However, the demands on the remaining resources for data management and protection are quickly multiplied. Storage and backup teams are being asked to protect large and growing datastores with computer, network and storage resources that are often taxed to the limit. The amount of data stored on VMs is skyrocketing, compounding an already untenable situation. This can lead to broken backup windows, reductions in performance of front-end applications and missed service levels.
End users need a backup solution that delivers the performance, manageability and scalability required to support their most mission-critical applications on virtual servers and be assured that their data is fully protected and easily recoverable. Solution providers need to provide a modern solution that understands the unique and dynamic nature of their customers’ virtual environment to minimize performance impact on front-end applications. By deploying snapshot and replication tools, solution providers can implement a data protection strategy that reduces down to minutes the time required to protect the largest datastores and the most demanding workloads while diminishing any impact on front-end applications. An ideal solution marries the efficiency benefits of a snapshot-based approach with a backup catalog that dramatically simplifies recovery operations.
Ensure application-aware data protection.
As more critical applications are virtualized, it is necessary to apply the same level of protection and recovery that they had in a purely physical server setting. The modern data center now demands concerted backup and restore capabilities that will ensure maximum uptime of critical applications running on VMs. The key is selecting a data and information management solution that delivers application-aware, consistent data protection while staying within the constraints imposed by a highly consolidated, virtualized environment. But not all virtual server backup solutions are equal and the distinction is in the details. Application-aware protection is not simply a matter of saying “we have it” or “we leverage VSS” (Volume Shadow Copy Service) – that is just not good enough for most deployments. Application-aware data protection must include capabilities such as transaction log truncation, seamless search and individual application item recovery to ensure a point in time consistent image of the application running inside a VM. This provides the confidence to virtualize more applications realizing the benefits of the virtual platform sooner. Solution providers need to understand their customers’ requirements for application protection and recovery and deliver an optimized solution to match.
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