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Implementing instant VM recovery and virtual test labs

Thinking about instant virtual machine recovery for backup? Check out these three necessities when using the technology and learn how the process compares to a virtual test lab.

There are a few things an organization must do if it wants to instantly recover a virtual machine.

Find an appropriate backup application. Most modern backup applications support instant VM recovery, but features tend to be hypervisor specific. If an organization is running VMware 6, for example, it needs to make sure the instant recovery feature in the product under consideration isn't designed for a competing hypervisor or an older version of VMware.

Ensure backup storage is up to the job. Storage should have plenty of extra capacity and lots of unused IOPS. It is also a good idea to confirm that the array is supported by both the hypervisor vendor and the backup vendor.

Verify off-site data protection. You should talk to your backup vendor about options to replicate VM copies to the cloud or an alternate data center in case you need to instantly recover virtual machines to a remote location.

Virtual test labs and recovering virtual machines

Although instant VM recovery is best known for its ability to bring critical workloads back online without first waiting for a restoration to complete, business continuity is not the only use for this technology. Some backup vendors have taken instant recovery a step further by introducing virtual test lab capabilities within their products.

Virtual test labs are useful to organizations that need to create a lab environment that simulates the production environment. This allows IT staff to detect any issues that might occur and to find answers to those issues prior to implementation.

Virtual test lab features work very similar to instant VM recovery. Virtual machines are mounted and run directly from the backup media. However, two things work differently in virtual labs:

Most modern backup applications support instant VM recovery, but features tend to be hypervisor specific.
  • Like an instant VM recovery, a virtual disk is used to intercept write operations, leaving the backup copy of the virtual machine unmodified. Unlike an instant recovery, however, this virtual disk is deleted when the lab VM is no longer needed.
  • Virtual lab environments are sandboxed to prevent them from interfering with the production environment. In the case of an instant recovery, the backup copy of the virtual machine is intended to temporarily replace the production VM, so sandboxing the virtual machine would be counterproductive.

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