Sync Up Virtual Servers and Storage


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As virtual machines proliferate, new tools help protect data and enhance performance.

As deployments of virtualized servers proliferate in enterprise IT environments, there are growing concerns associated with creating, managing and protecting these newly created virtual machines (VMs).

Because VMs are so prolific, there are problems with backing them up, managing them, migrating data among them and controlling their sprawl. But new products help IT administrators back up and protect VMs, as well as manage and monitor the connections between them and the networked storage resources they use.

Industry pundits estimate that as many as 70% to 80% of VMs rely on storage resources from Fibre Channel (FC) or IP SANs, or NAS. With such a reliance on shared storage, the problems mount for storage administrators charged with not only managing, but backing up and protecting, the environment.

Virtual machine backup blues
Chief among the concerns in backing up VMs is the cost of software licenses for backup software. Most backup vendors require a software license for each VM protected and a separate license for the physical host computer. If server virtualization is done as part of a consolidation effort, the licenses are likely already available; but if new virtual servers are being created, additional licenses may be needed.

You may also need to rejigger

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the backup schedule. Because the job created for backing up one physical server may encompass backing up a number of VMs, rescheduling those jobs to occur consecutively is recommended to avoid bottlenecks.

Storage admins must also tailor each backup job to the virtualization software they're using. Most backup software packages, such as EMC Corp.'s NetWorker and Symantec Corp.'s Veritas NetBackup, will back up VMware environments. There are even some, such as VizionCore Inc.'s vRanger Pro and vReplicator, that are focused specifically on VMware. These packages commonly use agent technology in which a software agent backs up each virtual and physical host machine (see "Tips for backing up virtual machines," below).

This was first published in February 2008

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