Virtualization Needs a New Backup Strategy

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Dealing with sensitive data

Virtualization raises another problem -- the VM image itself may have sensitive data an enterprise needs to protect. Data architects will "probably be forced to re-think how they manage data in transitioning to virtualized environments and what that means for data storage, backup and recovery in those environments," Crawford said.

Michael Bilancieri, director of products at Marathon Technologies, which provides high-availability software for physical and virtual servers, told InternetNews.com that it's critical for enterprises to know what's being provisioned so IT can ensure everything is backed up. "A lot of this is understanding where the virtual machines are, what virtual machines are out there, then having the tools to back them up," he said.

Companies such as Surgient and Embotics provide tools to manage VM sprawl and track VMs in the IT infrastructure. Marathon itself will soon offer a product from InMage that will let users implement continuous data protection (CDP) at the hypervisor level.

CDP involves automatically saving a copy of every change made to data so IT can restore any previous copy. If, for example, your application crashes or is infected by a virus at 4:00 p.m., you can restore it to the state it was in at 3:58 p.m. or earlier. The data captured is stored in a separate storage location instead of the server's normal storage, to ensure it remains safe.

Already, some CIOs are thinking about restructuring their data backup and disaster recovery infrastructures, Mohan said. "Backup redesign is third on some CIO's lists, after tiered storage buildout and consolidation. This is the first time in the last 20 years that it's been that important," he added.

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