Top server virtualization myths in disaster recovery and business continuity

There's a lot of hype surrounding server virtualization, which is a popular topic in business continuity and disaster recovery. Here's a look at the top server virtualization myths.

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Server virtualization is a popular topic in business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR). At the same time, many myths surround BC, DR, high availability (HA) and data protection, recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs). Here's a quick look at some common myths and the realities that are constantly changing in the server virtualization landscape.

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Myth: A virtual machine (VM) server consolidation eliminates the need to manage individual servers.

Reality: Server virtualization using hypervisors such as those from VMware, Citrix, Microsoft and others, enables multiple operating systems and applications to be consolidated onto fewer physical servers. The need to manage separate physical servers diminishes with virtual machines, but even with consolidation, VMs, their operating systems, utilities and applications still require management. You must still ensure that the virtual machines, guest operating systems, applications and virtual infrastructure are all backed up and protected.

Myth: VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) is a data backup utility.

Reality: VCB is a framework tool. Its means of managing backups include providing APIs and access points for third-party backup and data protection tools, which support VMware virtual backup. VMware Consolidated Backup requires the presence of a third-party data mover, media manager and other technologies associated with traditional backup or data protection tools and utilities.

Myth: VMotion, LiveMigration and Quick Migration are data replication tools.

Reality: VMotion, LiveMigration and Quick Migration are all virtual machine migration tools. These tools enable running VMs to be moved to a different physical server that has access to shared storage, or, if combined with replication, to a different physical server and storage system. Shared storage can be in the form of an external shared SAS storage array or a shared storage array using Fibre Channel, iSCSI or network-attached storage (NAS).

Myth: Technology such as VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a business continuity/disaster recovery and replication tool.

Reality: VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) is a tool for managing the process and products that enable BC and DR in a virtualized environment. For example, VMware SRM relies on third-party software, hardware or network-based data replication and movement, third-party snapshots and other data protection technologies to enable BC, DR and high availability (HA). VMware SRM provides the management framework across different vendors' technology to simplify the task of enabling business continuity and disaster recovery.

Myth: Tape storage is dead and tape is the root of all IT data protection issues.

Reality: While some in the industry believe that tape storage is dead, the reality is that tape is very much alive. Right now, it co-exists with disk in a tiered storage environment with virtual tape libraries (VTLs) with data deduplication and replication. Tape remains viable as an ultra-efficient, low cost and green storage medium for long-term high capacity backups, archives or other bulk data needs. In terms of server virtualization, this works in part with rethinking and architecting data protection, BC and DR. Also, tape leverages other virtualization technologies such as VTLs, helping to bridge the past with the future, and enable flexibility and agility.

What you can do today

  • Identify and eliminate single points of failure that occur from consolidation. As part of a high-availability and business continuity strategy, you must enable fault isolation and containment in your plan. When you consolidate data, you might introduce and create single points of failure that can affect many virtual servers along with their guest applications. So by following best practices to isolate and contain faults, you can enable high availability.
  • Monitor and determine performance bottlenecks that impact data protection. Deploy end-to-end infrastructure resource management (IRM) and cross-technology domain data protection tools with correlation capabilities.

About the author: Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO Group, an IT Industry Analyst and Consultancy firm and author of "The Green and Virtual Data Center" (CRC) as well as "Resilient Storage Networks" (Elsevier). Learn more at www.serverandstorageio.com.


This was first published in July 2009

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