While smaller companies may adopt virtual machines in greater numbers in 2011, they may not necessarily adapt their backup plans to match the changes in their environments.
That's a problem, says backup and recovery vendor Acronis, which recently took a deeper dive into the data from its January study on small and midsize business (SMB) disaster preparedness. The report found that SMBs will increase their deployments of virtual servers in 2011, with adoption jumping from 22% to 33%.
"We realized that these SMB customers for the longest time have been putting their [disaster recovery] plans in place and backing up their data through their physical servers, and that's where they focused," said Seth Goodling, virtualization practice manager at Acronis, in an interview. "When the virtualization trend kicked off, and the server consolidation trend kicked off, all of a sudden they're faced with another set of challenges. It's not necessarily the best way to back up your virtual environments, the way you've backed up your physical environments in the past."
Goodling points to higher confidence in the ability to recover from an IT disaster among SMBs that treat their virtualized environments with the same degree of importance as they do their physical systems. "It was the companies that didn't put quite as much weight in their virtual environments that lacked confidence," he said.
In some cases, it could a matter of process: More than 40% of U.S. respondents in the study said they don't back up their virtual machines as often as their physical ones. That could be the result of tight resources or a lack of executive buy-in -- or both -- but whatever the reason, it makes good sense to have consistent backup policies across all environments. (And if you don't have any recovery plan, there's no time like the present.) Acronis advises SMBs to give equal importance to virtual machines in their backup plans, applying -- and enforcing -- the same policies that govern the company's physical machines.