Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches

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1 Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches By David Davis, vexpert

2 Introduction Datacenter managers and administrators face greater complexities and challenges today than ever before in the past. The multitude of servers, applications, and interdependencies coupled with the constant rate of change in the datacenter can make administration, data protection, and disaster recovery a nightmare. More and more, administrators must depend on new, intelligent, and technologically advanced software to tame the datacenter. One of the most important smart tools you ll need is an advanced data protection tool. However, selecting the right tool is not without it s challenges. Below, you ll find both the challenges and solutions related to selecting one of these new and advanced data protection tools for your datacenter. Challenge #1 Implementing Single Solution Data Protection Most datacenter admins would like to virtualize all servers to gain the efficiencies, flexibility, and agility that comes along with it. Unfortunately, for a variety of business reasons, virtualizing all servers just hasn t happened at most businesses (and some haven t even started virtualizing yet). In fact, statistics say that, on average, just 51% of all x86 Servers have been virtualized. In anticipation of moving to 100% virtualization, many datacenter admins gravitated toward specialized virtualization backup tools. However, virtualization specific backup tools don t back up physical servers (and many can t get data offsite on to tapes, many also leave your data unencrypted, exposing your critical and sensitive data). The end result is that many admins are attempting to protect the datacenter with multiple backup applications adding unnecessary complexity, straining resources and increasing costs. Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches 1

3 The solution to this problem is to standardize on a backup tool that can backup both physical and virtual systems. That tool would store the data in a single repository and it would all be managed by a single console. Challenge #2 Restoring the Right Data, Fast When an application owner or the CIO calls you on your cell phone and says that they need a file restored or that there has been a disaster, it needs to be addressed immediately. While those types of calls may not come very often, they are the opportunity for you, as an administrator, to be remembered as a savior to the company (or at least the CIO). Alternatively, if the problem isn t addressed quickly, you could be known as someone who may need to be put on warning for failure to fulfill your job duties. While many admins perform periodic testing of data recovery, all too often the tests are too simplistic and they result in a false sense of security. In the real world, when a major disaster occurs and you have to restore all your servers, have you, even remotely, tested how long it will take? You must perform complex recovery tests to ensure that you can deliver what s needed when called upon. For example, how would you restore all your physical servers to virtual? How long would it take to restore all your data when a massive outage occurs? These are questions that you must be prepared to answer and you can only answer them after you ve performed recovery tests with your real server infrastructure, your real data, and your currently installed data protection application. The solution is to have an application that is able to perform fast restores, that can find the data you need quickly, that offers automated restore testing, and that gives you flexible restore options (like restoring a physical server into a virtual machine). Challenge #3 Reducing Backup Time and Storage Requirements As you know, the length of the backup process is tied to the amount of data that has to be protected (and the speed of the medium transmitting the data). If you can reduce the amount of data being protected, then the backup length is reduced. However, it s not realistic to simply not protect certain data. What you need is stronger and more comprehensive deduplication to reduce the storage requirements. Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches 2

4 Because the amount of data needing to be protected is only continuing to grow, the solution to this challenge is to ensure your data protection application offers the best compression and most flexible deduplication options available today. Thus, ensure that both deduplication and compression are available for both physical and virtual as well as global deduplication in the centralized backup repository. Challenge #4 Consolidating Servers As an admin, you re interested in achieving 100% virtualization in the datacenter for the purposes of both saving the business considerable expense as well as to make your life, as an administrator, much easier and more efficient. There are a number of reasons you need any to any backup and recovery. Besides server consolidation with virtualization, you may also be consolidating servers due to acquisition or datacenter consolidation. No matter the case, as you know, performing manual migration and consolidation can be painful. It makes sense, with your data protection application already backing up your servers, that it should be able to migrate those servers into a virtual infrastructure. The solution for consolidating servers is to ensure that the data protection application you choose offers the aforementioned capabilities. The last conversation you want to have with your boss is to try to explain why the virtualization consolidation project means you have as much or even more servers and storage in the rack because you chose a second platform for your virtual data. Both you and your company need this flexibility in a data protection application to save you time, and money. Challenge #5 Making Disaster Recovery Easier According to the Symantec 2012 SMB Disaster Preparedness Survey, 74% of companies don t have a disaster recovery plan in place. Whether you have a plan or not, disaster recovery is a constant challenge with the constant change happing in today s datacenters. After all, it s difficult to document something and implement a procedure to protect a business critical application, for example, if that app has already changed by the time you are ready to implement your protection plan. With most companies still having a mix of physical and virtual, the greatest challenge is protecting physical servers and preparing for the hardware requirements and extensive restore times required. The solution to this challenge is for your data protection tool to help you make disaster recovery easier by giving you the option to restore physical servers to virtual as quickly and efficiently as possible. Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches 3

5 Summary You don t want to be the administrator who can t get the data restored when called upon. You also want nightly backups to execute completely and as efficiently as possible. You need protection for both physical and virtual infrastructures as well as the option to restore servers and data wherever needed, whenever needed. By selecting and implementing the tool that offers you the most flexibility, functionality, and efficiency, you ll be that admin who, when called upon in the middle of the night, is able to save the day. About the Author David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. He holds several certifications including VCP5, VCAP-DCA, CCIE #9369, and has been awarded the VMware vexpert award 5 years running. Additionally, David has spoken at major conferences like VMworld and authored hundreds of articles for websites and print publications. David s library of popular video training courses can be found at Pluralsight.com. For more information on how to contact David, his speaking schedule, and his latest project, visit his personal website - VirtualizationSoftware.com. Solving Common Data Protection Challenges Advice from the Trenches 4

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