Protecting Your Data in a Virtualized Environment

The advantages of server virtualization have been responsible for a substantial shift to virtual server deployments. These benefits range from cost savings to the flexibility and agility offered by public and private cloud architectures. Virtualization technologies are becoming an essential element of modern data centers for both large and small businesses.

While the move toward virtualization has resulted in great efficiencies, there have also been new challenges brought about by this technology. The immense growth of data paired with the increasing number of virtual machines has created the need for an effective means to manage and protect this data. More critical applications are being deployed within a virtual context, which produces more demand for data recovery with a limited number of resources.

The shift to virtualization and exceedingly demanding operations requirements have made it necessary to update traditional data protection techniques. Organizations have a need for modern solutions that are optimized to deliver in a virtual-server world.

Data Protection Challenges

  • Dwindling Resources: The increased level of server consolidation and high virtual machine density has resulted in a limited number of physical resources that are mainly dedicated to production needs. This means that there is the potential for neglect when it comes to data management tasks and that large amounts of data must be protected with less storage resources.
  • Unprotected Data: While virtual machines are regularly being created there is the concerning possibility that these devices are not being backed up. Manually applying data protection policies is still a current practice and is a very time-consuming and inefficient method of securing huge amounts of data.
  • Recover Points Deficiencies: Data backed up by sparse intervals is not a sufficient means to maintain optimal levels of data recovery capabilities. With the deployment of critical applications, recovery Point Objectives have shifted from daily to hourly points. This is necessary in order to reduce the amount of data loss in the case of any unexpected disruption to the system. However, it can be challenging to put frequent recover points in place without hindering productivity.
  • Lack of Application Defense: The transfer of critical applications to a virtual setting makes it essential to ensure that they have an equivalent level of protection and recovery capabilities as they would have with a physical server.
  • Limited Restore Granularity: Restoring individual files from the data store of a virtual machine is vital for adequate application uptime. However, traditional means make it necessary to remount the whole virtual machine data store before sifting through the contents to find a single file. This method requires too many resources and a large amount of time to be truly effective.

A Modern Approach to Protecting Virtualized Data

Many businesses complete an extensive backup of their data on weekends and intermittent backup during the week. This process is outdated and is not an effective way to protect data, especially when you consider that different types of data have varying levels of importance.

For this reason, a protection approach that uses a tiered system can optimize your data security and recovery efforts. This process would focus on specific recovery objectives and would be based on data requirements. An organization may choose to focus on a single recovery type or multiple types, which can include operational recovery, disaster recovery or regulatory recovery.

  • In addition to a broad recovery method, an organization could also benefit from using more aggressive means to protect their more valuable data while scaling back resources on less significant information. This system provides extra security to critical information while cutting costs on data that has less value to the business.
  • Inactive data should be transferred to a content storage platform in order to reduce the quantity of data that requires protection. This can provide an ideal solution when the content platform that the information is stored though provides built-in data protection.
  • The use of application-specific protection protocols provide numerous advantages to their users such as:
    • Creating copies of only strictly necessary information.
    • The ability to restore at a granular level
    • Making use of the automated recovery of applications
    • Saving changes as they take place, which makes it possible to recover data from any point in time.
    • Increased control over applications and their protection

Virtualization has brought about some impressive benefits to the modern data center. This technology has also presented several new demands, which include the protection of data. By taking advantage of a variety of tools and products it is possible to effectively implement solutions to these concerns and customize them to the specific needs of an organization.

What’s your organization’s approach to data protection? Share in the comments below, and check out Dell for more information.

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