When it comes to virtual machines (VMs), it’s no secret that a more robust backup and disaster recovery (BDR) approach is required — compared to what you might deploy in a traditional physical server environment. From data protection policies that are based on VM replication, to increased levels of performance to support database-driven business applications and higher I/O workloads, there’s a lot to keep in mind.
As you map out a BDR game plan for your clients, first and foremost, it’s critical that your solution of choice integrates seamlessly with VMware APIs (application program interfaces) to minimize the overhead impact on clients. Your backup solution should also be versatile — capable of supporting any of the popular virtualized environments to allow full backup and recovery across any IT landscape.
What else do you need to know? Here are four ways to optimize data protection for virtual machines using image-based backup:
VM environments can be very complex, so backup can also become equally complex if you allow it to. Fortunately, there are ways to simplify BDR management, including using incremental backups of both virtual and physical clients to lessen the load. And for further simplicity, by implementing the same incremental “forever” process for both backup and replication operations, you’ll be able to unify IT backup and replication operations, resulting in time savings, efficiency, and uniformity across BDR processes. Also, if you consolidate all recovery points for each client across all jobs and storage volumes in a single list, you’ll find recovery to be dramatically simplified.
Reduce Server Provisioning
It’s easy for server provisioning to get out of hand in any IT environment, but there are ways to go about it to reduce friction and costs. For starters, data deduplication should be configured as a site-wide service — rather than on each individual server, thereby removing the burden of running a heavyweight deduplication service on the backup servers. Deduplication can also be deployed as an inline or post-processing service, eliminating the need for backup server provisioning altogether. Instead, the deduplicated backup images will be presented as additional VM backup recovery points, simplifying and streamlining the overall process for you and your customers as a result.
Virtualize Data Deduplication Processes
Without question, data deduplication reduces the storage footprint of backup images, which in turn makes inline data deduplication an easy check-off item for data protection. The marketing blitz for data deduplication, however, begs a serious question: How should a time-critical application governed by an ISO standard utilize a function that extends process time and incurs high-processing resource burdens? The answer lies in the ability of IT to configure a virtual backup topology with the correct data de-duplication functionality needed to support a specific policy at a site. With data deduplication becoming a distinct service, IT is free to configure
it with respect to primary storage as either a virtual in-line or a virtual post-processing function.
Block-level deduplication allows you and your clients to retain daily, weekly or even monthly backups longer. This can be performed inline during each backup, or as a post process, such as during archiving. The result is that the storage requirement for full and incremental backups over a longer period of time is significantly reduced.
These are just a few of the ways you can optimize BDR in a virtual environment for your customers. What other tips can you add to this list?
Tom Fedro is president of Paragon Software Group Corp., an Irvine, CA-based provider of disaster recovery and backup software solutions for small business and mid-market enterprises, along with embedded file system driver technologies used by large manufacturers of consumer devices including Cisco, Seagate, Western Digital, ASUS, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi and many others.