The Virtualization Practice

Virtualization Backup

Virtualization Backup focuses upon data backup, recovery and protection in virtualized and cloud environments. Data protection is no longer the realm of just backup but is about recovery while maintaining business continuity. The recovery of data is important. ...
Backup, Data Protection, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, and Continuous Data Protection are all covered as they pertain to virtualized and cloud environments; the passing of data between environment; and the increasing scale of data to be protected in shorter periods of time. Virtualization Backup looks at how applications and data interact to allow for speedier recovers with less data loss while making use of onsite and cloud based technologies.

2011 saw an increase in virtualized and cloud data protection solution partnerships and advancements. One of the biggest advancements is the growing support for Microsoft Hyper-V from long-time VMware specific backup solutions. Included in the new partnerships are team ups between performance management and data protection solutions, as well as an increase in the methods for replication and other forms of data protection. 2011 was a very big year in the Data Protection arena of cloud and virtualization. This is the 2011 Year in Review for data protection.

VMware has had a great 2011. Product execution was excellent on all fronts except for VMware View where there are also larger strategy issues afoot. VMware is and likely will remain next year not only the most important, but the best system software vendor on the planet. We can only look forward to continued progress with vSphere, the management offerings, and the applications platform offerings.

Data Protection is not just about backup these days, but instead concentrates on two all important concepts for a business: disaster recovery and business continuity. While backup is a part of Disaster Recovery, restoration is all important. If it is not possible to restore your data in a timely fashion the backup has failed. So technologies that allow us to access our data immediately provides a level of business continuity. But how is this achieved? So where do you save your critical data is is readily restorable? Is your backup integrated into your monitoring software? Have you tested your restore today?

As I was flying home recently, the gentleman beside me was talking about his need to do the “cloud thing” as a means to backup his data. He recently experienced a multi-retail shop backup failure where the local backup disk was corrupted and the backups failed to happen. I also experienced a backup failure, when my backup software was upgraded. In both cases, the backup software did not mail out, or alert the appropriate people of the failure. Even if the backups did work, the data was still corrupted. So the question is, how can cloud based backups help with either of these scenarios?

The Virtualization Practice was recently offline for two days, we thank you for coming back to us after this failure. The reason, a simple fibre cut that would have taken the proper people no more than 15 minutes to fix, but we were way down on the list due to the nature of the storm that hit New England and took 3M people off the grid. Even our backup mechanisms were out of power. While our datacenter had power, the rest of the area in our immediate vicinity did not. So not only were we isolated from reaching any clouds, but we were isolated from being reached from outside our own datacenter. The solution to such isolation is usually remote sites and location of services in other regions of a county, this gets relatively expensive for small and medium business, can the Hybrid Cloud help here?

Whether you use replication as a means of disaster avoidance or disaster recovery, replication of your virtual environment between hot sites has always been a win. With current technology it is even possible to replicate to a replication receiver cloud which could provide a measure of business continuity as well. So who are the players and who provides what service, and how do they do it?

Agent and Agent-less Backup in the Virtual Environment

There is some debate amongst backup vendors on what defines an agent, some consider any amount of scripting to be an agent, while others imply it is what does the data transfer plus any amount of scripting necessary. Is there a need for both Agent and Agent-less within a virtual environment? This also begs the question, who is responsible for properly handling the application whose data you are backing up?

Hurricane Irene and Some Thoughts on Disaster Recovery

This week I have been paying close attention to the developments of Hurricane Irene. In the beginning, Hurricane Irene looked like she was going visit Florida on her journey to the north. Even though it looked like Florida was going to get hit by this storm, it was still early and there was time for the storm to change course. It was also time to go out and make sure my Hurricane Supply Kit at least had the basics like batteries and flashlights as well as filling up the gas tanks of the cars. I have different levels of preparedness which depends on how close the storm is and the projected path. Just like I have steps in place to be prepared for the storm, most companies that I have worked for in Florida have a storm plan in place and like myself, do not sound the real alarm until the storm is 48 – 72 hours away from a hit but start to prepare for the alarm in case it is needed.

More and more is coming out about the attack from a MacDonald’s that left an organization crippled for a bit of time. The final tally was that the recently fired employee was able to delete 15 VMs before either being caught or he gave up. On twitter, it was commented that the administrator must not have been a powershell programmer because in the time it takes to delete 15 VMs by hand, a powershell script could have removed 100s. Or perhaps the ‘Bad Actor’ was trying to not be discovered. In either case, this has prompted discussions across the twitter-sphere, blog-sphere, and within organizations about how to secure from such attacks.