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Choose a backup platform that fits virtual environments

When selecting a backup platform, consider compatibility requirements and how the needs of your virtual infrastructure will change over time.

What are the principal considerations involved in choosing a backup platform for an enterprise with multiple hypervisors?

Virtualization can introduce several wrinkles when it comes to selecting a backup platform. So, it's extremely important to inspect the product's requirements and verify that your environment supports those requirements -- and will continue to support those requirements into the future as business needs and product roadmaps change.

The two most immediate requirements are support for both the operating systems and hypervisors deployed within the organization. Generally, the underlying hardware is no longer listed because any system capable of running these software platforms should be adequate. Some products also require Web browsers, such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, for the Web-based interface. You can see how multiple hypervisor versions can potentially complicate the software dependencies needed for proper deployment. If the backup tool is intended to support specific applications such as SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint or Oracle, verify that the tool is fully compliant with the applications -- and supports the applications if they're running in a VM. Finally, verify that the backup platform is capable of supporting your desired storage target, such as your storage area network, network attached storage, cloud storage or even local-disk storage on a server.

Once you find a backup product that accommodates your heterogeneous hypervisor environment, be certain that the product will provide a suitable feature set. For example, Unitrends Enterprise Backup supports features such as physical-to-physical, virtual-to-physical, physical-to-virtual and virtual-to-virtual recoveries, full and incremental backups, image- and file-level recovery, data deduplication, fast recovery, archival capabilities, replication and other features. Every product is different, and not every feature may be available for every operating system and hypervisor combination. This is why it's so important to look for exceptions (read the documentation's "fine print") and test each prospective product thoroughly before committing to a backup platform.

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What do you think are the most important considerations for choosing a backup platform for virtual environments?