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Why we're still resisting virtual backup best practices

Many enterprises are putting on the brakes when it comes to VM backup and recovery. A recent report says enterprises aren’t confident about the ability to back up and recover VMs — leading many to avoid virtualizing their entire infrastructure.

Backup vendor Veeam surveyed 500 organizations with more than 1,000 employees about their virtualization and data protection practices. Here are a few stats from Veeam’s “VMware Data Protection Report 2010” that reveal the problems with backup and recovery in many enterprises:

  • 44% of IT directors say they are avoiding virtualizing mission-critical workloads due to concerns about backup and recovery.
  • Only 2% of all server and VM backups are tested for recoverability each year.
  • 25% of full-server recoveries are being performed to recover a single file or application item.

Of course, it’s in Veeam’s business interests to publicize the challenges of backup and recovery — and its solutions — and that’s what these survey results are doing. But backup is a recurring problem for enterprises, and it’s keeping them from successfully recovering VMs.

Two-thirds of organizations said they experience problems every month when attempting to recover a server. And according to the study, these failures cost the average enterprise more than $400,000 every year.

Even worse, many companies are wasting their time and energy performing full-server recoveries to recover a single file or application item. A full recovery of a backed-up VM takes nearly five hours — not much better than the six it takes to recover a physical server, Veeam said.

A major reason that organizations still hit these bumps on the backup and recovery road: They use the same products for both physical and virtual server backup, when we all know that virtualization requires a fundamentally different approach. This refusal to invest in proper virtualization backup tools would certainly cause problems with VM recovery. No wonder people are worried about virtualizing mission-critical workloads!

Enterprises encounter a variety of issues when they use physical backup tools for VM backup. It’s expensive, increases recovery time, weakens host performance and requires more storage. Plus, you have to install an agent. You might not want to spend the money on new products for virtual backup, but using traditional backup for VMs is likely to cost you more in the long run.

Many enterprises are starting to recognize that reality, and casting aside the physical world mindset. Virtualization-specific technology improves backup and recovery, but it’s clear that not everyone is quite ready for completely virtual data protection.

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