Data Backup: Virtual vs. Conventional: Page 2

A comparison of virtual backup and conventional backup, including a survey of vendors and a list of key questions to ask.
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Asking the Right Questions

There is no one answer to the question: “Should I invest in conventional backup for my physical and virtualization backup, or invest in two different backup products?” Analyze your environment to answer questions like these:

1.  What percentage of my servers are virtualized? What rate of virtualization growth do I anticipate? A present or near-term 80% virtualization rate is a positive for virtual-specific backup performance.

2.  How many critical applications are virtualized? If you have virtualized high-priority applications or plan to, then look for backup with granular restore. 

3.  What is my available storage capacity? A limited or moderate amount of capacity will quickly run out without the ability to dedupe virtual backups. If you choose to go with a virtual-specific backup lacking dedupe, account for higher storage capacity needs.

4.  Do I run or plan to run more than one hypervisor? Most backups support VMware and Hyper-V. A few support Citrix Xen as well; be sure to find out the level of backup support if you are a Xen user.

5.  Do I have problems load balancing my virtualization environment? Managing workloads and resources is a common problem in growing virtualized environments. If this is true for you, look to agentless backup.

Vendor Landscape

Quantum's vmPRO family works across physical and virtual servers to provide backup, replication and long-term data retention tools. Quantum pushes its DXi disk based backup appliances as part of the deal.

VMware and Microsoft offer virtual backup tools for their respective hypervisors: VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) or Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager (VMM). (VMM works in VMware environments too.) Both backup applications capture point-in-time snapshots of the VMs. What they do, they do well: fast full image backup without quiescing the VM. This allows for fast restoration of an entire VM and cloning VMs to create new ones. Administrators can extend value by integrating the tools with other software; for example, Windows Server 2012 introduced Hyper-V Replica to replicate VMs for disaster recovery.

Symantec primarily provides virtual and physical backup with data protection warhorse Backup Exec. Symantec also offers Backup Exec System Recovery, since renamed Symantec System Recovery 2013 (SRR). SRR offers block-based image backup and restore for virtualized environments and complements Backup Exec’s file-based backup. SSR cannot backup to tape but does support Physical-to-Virtual (P2V), Virtual-to-Virtual (V2V), and Virtual to-Physical (V2P) recoveries for flexible recovery scenarios.

As you may imagine, EMC specializes in protecting VMware environments. EMC Protection products integrate dedupe with VMware disk backup, which answers the no-dedupe objection to virtual-only backup. EMC Protection crosses product families including EMC Networker, Data Domain, dedupe portfolios, and integration for Hyper-V.

Veeam is the leading third-party backup contender for virtualized environments only. Veeam offers image-based backup and replication that allows granular restores to suit RPO requirements. Of course, the trade-off is that Veeam does not support physical server backup and likely never will. Unless a customer is 100% virtualized, which few companies are, they will still need another backup for their non-virtualized servers.

Acronis Backup & Recovery 11.5 Virtual Edition is part of Acronis’ True Image family for virtualized environments. The product is agentless and a single console runs backup and recovery on an unlimited number of VMs. Acronis’ messaging concentrates on cost and time savings for virtual environment data protection.

Zetta provides cloud-based physical and virtual backup. Zetta automates backup with simultaneous dual pathing to local storage and the cloud. The local backup path enables instant recovery for databases and VM backup while the cloud backup provides DR protection web-based access for remote users. Zetta technology is particularly effective at moving large data sets across the WAN.

NovaStor NovaBACKUP family protects physical and virtual machines. NovaBACKUP DataCenter backs up and restores mixed virtual/physical environments at enterprise sites. It supports policies such as including or excluding active or inactive VMs. NovaStor supports VMware and Hyper-V and offers a file-level restore for VMware. Bare metal recovery features and the ability to backup to tape or disk round out the offering.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Tags: virtualization, data backup, backup

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