Seven factors to consider when evaluating virtual server protection and backup solutions

Server virtualization technology is evolving rapidly. And so are methods for protecting virtual servers and their data. We are often asked by customers what factors should be considered when looking at backup and recovery solutions for a virtualized data center.  Along with the obvious benefits--energy, cost and efficiency savings, there are a number of challenges that come with virtualization. 


Of course, one of the challenges is the added complexity of managing backup and recovery for both virtual and physical servers.  Virtual server backup is further challenged when managing multiple virtualization vendors or multiple hypervisor versions from the same vendor.  Procedures and tools that work in one version of a virtual server offering are not necessarily supported in another. Another challenge is that some backup techniques provide only “crash consistent” copies of data, with no guarantee that backups will work when recovered.  Finally, some backup techniques can overload the physical systems shared resources, affecting all virtual machines as well as the physical host server.


Taking into account these challenges, here are some factors to consider when evaluating data protection solutions. 


Factor #1:  Make sure you have a data backup and recovery solution that supports all top server virtualization platforms.  Solutions should be VMware, Hyper-V and Citrix ready.  That way, matter what hypervisors you use, you are protected.


Factor #2:  Look for solutions that allow you to easily manage both physical and virtual machine backups, from multiple vendors.  You want one easy-to-use one easy-to-use graphical user interface (GUI) interface.  It just makes things that much simpler as no one wants to spend time writing, testing and supporting script based solutions.


Factor #3:  The solutions should offer you the ability to  off –load the performance load associated with backup and recovery from your servers and virtual machines.  This will maximize the investment made to your virtual server environment providing a higher ROI and allowing you to perform more frequent backups with impacting performance. .


Factor #4:  Look for solutions that offer a variety of data protection methods to enable specific recovery point/recovery time objectives.  As not all data has the same business value, HP Data Protector allows you to choose from multiple protection and recovery methods tailored to your data classification. Through tight integration with HP StorageWorks arrays, Data Protector provides the highest level RPO/RTO for virtualized mission critical applications.


Factor #5:  For mission- or business-critical applications, identify solutions that allow you to achieve instantaneous, application-consistent data recovery, and frequent backups for your  applications with no scripting required. 


Factor #6:  Look for a vendor that offers a cost-effective and simple licensing structure. Ask a few questions. Can you redeploy licenses when retiring or changing applications, or do you need to purchase new ones? What happens when you renew your support contract? Are licenses priced by server or tier?  


Factor #7:  Make sure your vendor supports multiple versions, running concurrently, from a single vendor.  This will greatly impact deployment at upgrade and migration time. Upgrading virtual servers is not a “flip the switch” process and must be managed supporting both old and new from a single management interface.


For more information, read the new white paper on Data Protector Integration with HP StorageWorks P4000 SAN solutions.

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