SMBs Stymied By Virtualization Backup

Virtual environments may cause disaster recovery headaches for smaller companies if not handled with same urgency as physical systems, says Acronis.
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Awareness doesn't seem to be the problem: 73% of the companies surveyed agreed that virtualization "has either completely or partially changed the way the business manages its backup and disaster recovery." Rather, when costs and other factors motivate virtualization deployments, backup plans might take a backseat.

"All of a sudden, their SQL databases and their Exchange databases are being virtualized -- that's tier-one, mission-critical data for them," Goodling said. "Going to a tape-based system might not be the quickest, fastest, and most accurate way to recover that data."

So what's an IT pro at a smaller company to do when stretched thin across a complex infrastructure?

"The first thing would be that single pane of glass -- or a single solution that can manage and handle hybrid environments," Goodling said. Acronis' January survey found that the typical SMB had more than two backup systems when they were operating a mix of physical, virtual, and cloud systems. Some companies in the study had as many as five separate backup schemes, according to Goodling. Goodling's second piece of advice for SMBs: Your backup plan should plan for growth.

"It has to be scalable. Small businesses are not virtualizing everything from day one," Goodling said, noting that not planning for growth can add unnecessary backup and recovery costs down the line.

Acronis also recommends independent backups and frequent refreshes for each virtual machine, image-based backups, and agentless software for virtual servers that only requires a single agent per physical host.

Goodling believes that smaller companies sometimes move faster into new technologies without the extensive planning and testing that's often ingrained in large enterprise rollouts, which can lead to insufficient disaster readiness.

"SMBs may tend to jump into some of these things a little quicker without as much research, without looking at all the steps that need to be done," Goodling said. "They may be quickly virtualizing their environments, but they might not be as concerned about backing up those environments at the end of the day."