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Important considerations for security and protection of VM data

Virtualizing servers and data centers makes security and protection that much more critical. Snapshots have emerged as an important means of protecting VM data. This method allows administrators to capture precise VM images directly from memory at specific moments in time. Other backup tools, such as VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), offer more conventional means of workload protection: VCB allows you to back up VMware guest machines

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from the command line.

Whatever your preferred approach, it's important to understand the capabilities, limitations and most common issues facing your security and protection plan.

Ask yourself these three questions to see if you could do more to protect VM data.

What tools and methods should I choose for VM protection?

When crafting your security and protection plan, remember that many of the same principles of physical data protection also apply to VMs. Always remember the ultimate goal of a backup plan is data loss prevention. By keeping this in mind, you'll have an easier time choosing appropriate tools and methods -- as well as scheduling -- for workloads based on their size and the critical nature of the data.

Are there limits to VM backup tools?

There is no one-size-fits-all backup approach. To find an appropriate method for VM backups, pay attention to the data size and criticality, as well as hardware and software compatibility. You may find a SAN-based VM backup is appropriate for certain workloads, while VCB is better for others. But storage also plays an important role. Avoid latency by determining whether you need to back up the entire file system or only certain VMs. Balancing the tools' capabilities with your data needs creates a more efficient disaster recovery plan.

What's causing my VM snapshots to fail?

Additional resources for VM data protection

Tips and tricks for backing up VMs

How to use image-level VM backups and CDP

Alternatives to VCB for VM backups

Snapshots often eat up massive amounts of storage in a data center, but many admins incorporate them into virtualization security and protection plans for the time-specific images of VMs they provide. If you receive a snapshot error, you may simply need to quiesce the VM, but if the errors persist, you'll need to do a more thorough inspection of your hardware and software. Sometimes VSS compatibility issues result in snapshot failures, in which case you'll need to rethink your snapshot strategy. 


This was first published in April 2013

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