Can You Back Up Virtualized Systems Safely?

Companies rushing to virtualize their environments in order to cut costs will find that backup and restore could be a problem due to its extensive use of scripting.

Most businesses use VMware products, as the company is the market leader, and its VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) centralized backup facility requires users to write a lot of scripts. That makes it difficult to use, according to some experts.

“There are lots of different ways to back things up, and VMware basically
leaves it up to the users,” Robert Bloomquist, senior engineer for virtual
recovery at Kroll Ontrack Data Recovery, which specializes in restoring lost
data, told InternetNews.com.

VMware (NYSE: VMW) says that extensive scripting is only necessary if enterprises
using VCB don’t already have a backup solution in place, as VCB was designed
to work with existing backup systems, but at least one vendor of a backup
solution for VMware’s products disagrees.

“It’s difficult to just use the VCB framework because you have to write a
lot of scripts and requires a lot of maintenance, and you have to spend a
lot of time on that,” Ellen Rome, vice president of sales and marketing at
backup, archiving and disaster solutions vendor STORserver told
InternetNews.com. “That just adds another level of management to the
process.”

Many companies leave out some of their virtualized systems in their
disaster recovery plans because there are no tools to manage them, according
to surveys
by Symantec
(NASDAQ: SYMC).

Lena Joshi, a senior product marketing manager at VMware, told
InternetNews.com that VCB was designed so that its partners could
provide solutions based on the technology and that it works with existing
backup systems.

“Philosophically, it’s all about our ecosystem,” she said. VMware is
known for its strong ties with third-party vendors, although Microsoft’s
(NASDAQ: MSFT) acceleration of its push into the virtualization field is threatening
that ecosystem. “VCB is a framework that provides access more than
anything else.”

Joshi said VCB was designed to work with customers’ existing backup
products, giving them direct access to data in virtual machines in shared
storage networks. “You’ll have to write scripts if you don’t already have a
backup solution,” she said.

However, it may not be as easy to use VCB with existing backup solutions
as Joshi claims.

“VCB is really just a framework, it’s not something that’s easy to use and
implement,” STORserver’s Rome said. “You have to do the integration to make
it work with a lot of the popular backup solutions out there.”

Tools from traditional legacy backup systems vendors such as CA (NASDAQ:
CA), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and BMC (NYSE: BMC), which have extended their applications to the virtual
environment
, will not provide an adequate solution, according to George
Pradel, director of strategic alliances at Vizioncore, which provides backup
and recovery products for the VMware environment.

“The procedures in traditional legacy applications have not been modified
for the extra capabilities you have in the virtual environment,” Pradel said. “You need a different approach.”

That need for a different approach has been apparent for
some time, and analysts say new tools have to go hand in hand with
enterprises re-thinking their data backup and recovery infrastructure to
take virtualization into account.

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