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In Virtual Backups We Trust

When I asked, "Are You 100% Virtualized?" one of the answers many people give is that they don't trust their ability to reliably back up critical data and apps when they're working in a virtual environment.

I thought again about this response as I read the initial results of an international survey that Veeam conducted. To put it mildly, IT is not getting the full benefit of virtualization when it comes to backup, and, surprisingly, they're still having a great deal of trouble with their legacy physical backup solutions.

Bruce Hoard wrote up a hilarious blog post based on the survey. I highly recommend you read it. But for those who haven't already done so and don't plan to click through, let me summarize the findings:

  • Doing a full recovery of a backed-up VM still takes nearly five hours. That's not really much shorter than recovering a physical server.
  • About half (47 percent) of these full recoveries are unnecessary, if IT is using current technologies. The problem is, they are having to do a full restore to recover a single file or e-mail.
  • No matter whether the recoveries are for physical or virtual machines, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of organizations experience problems every month when attempting to recover a server.
  • On average, the annual cost for failures is more than $400,000.

I suppose the lesson that most people would take away from this survey is: "Why virtualize my really critical apps and data? The results are no better than they are for physical backup, and I've already got a physical backup system that I understand."

If virtualization technology for backups wasn't advancing, I'd agree, but it is advancing, and rapidly. Consider the following capabilities: Recovering individual items from a disk image, and eliminating about half of all full recoveries Getting the server running for end-users in mere minutes while a full recovery is underway Automatically and quickly testing every backup to ensure recoverability.

The good news is, all of these capabilities are either now possible or will be very soon. In fact, it won't be long before virtualized backup will be superior to physical backup in terms of speed, ease of management, cost and reliability. By the end of this year, I wager people won't be asking, "Why should I virtualize my most critical apps and data?" Instead, they'll be asking "Why do I have anything on physical servers at all?"

Posted by Doug Hazelman on 10/21/2010 at 12:49 PM


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