VIRTUALIZED DATA RISKS: HOW TO ASSESS, PROTECT AND RECOVER FROM DATA LOSS 7 ways to prevent the perils of disappearing data in a virtualized environment With progress, there is risk—but why so much risk? Virtualization presents enormous opportunities for businesses of every size—otherwise it wouldn’t be so popular. But it also serves up a number of intense challenges—among them, the increased risk of data loss and massive outage. Here are the types of risks you need to consider… You’ve heard the warning before. But what does it really mean in today’s virtualized environment? As an IT professional, you’ve undoubtedly been bombarded with statistics about the devastating impact that massive data loss would have on your business. You’ve heard how over 40% of companies that have experienced a data disaster never reopen their doors.* Or how over 90% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more went bankrupt within a year.** Sobering statistics, wouldn’t you say? Especially when you consider that the risk of data loss is even greater in a virtualized environment than a nonvirtualized one (as we’ll see later on in this guide). And yet, the questions linger… • Will massive data loss really happen to my company? • What are the odds that a flood or hurricane will wipe out our data center AND our off-site backup? • Will the sudden closure of one of our service partners really cripple us? • Or can a sustained hacker attack really take us all the way down? Most of us believe these once-in-a-lifetime data disasters could happen to us, but probably won’t. We hold onto a belief that business will continue as normal—and at the very least, when data disruptions occur, they will not be catastrophic in nature. But the fact is, there are a thousand-and-one ways that everyday data disruptions—the lesser events that occur on a regular basis—can severely impact your business and damage your company and career. For example: • Need to produce a compliance document to satisfy government regulators, only to discover that it was deleted from your system and never backed up? • Need to retrieve an old e-mail to help your company defend itself in a litigation case—but can’t find it in the archive? • Trying to reconcile accounts with an old and valued customer, only to find that your data on past transactions is inexplicably incomplete? • And, on a bigger scale that touches everyone in your organization, can you recover lost data, applications and servers in minutes and save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars? In all these instances, missing data is the culprit, and inevitably, it will fuel conjecture among your peers that the data disappeared because it wasn’t properly protected. And incidentally, it’s not a case of IF this type of conjecture will occur—but rather, WHEN. *McGladrey and Pullen **National Archives & Records Administration Data loss and virtualization: Death by a thousand cuts. The success of virtualization has given rise to a myth— namely, that because of the operational flexibility that virtualization provides, where one server can be “brought up” if another server goes down, the risk of data loss is minimized. More succinctly, there is a belief that virtualization is backup. They are NOT one and the same—not even close. Furthermore, for all the good that virtualization does, it actually has a downside with which you may be uncomfortably familiar. Many companies that have invested in virtualization (and benefitted greatly from it) have not made corresponding investments in the enhanced data protection that it requires. They’re using the same old “pre-virtualization” tools and processes to protect their data. By relying on legacy solutions and processes that don’t work well anymore, they can’t keep pace with the exponentially larger amounts of data that need to be managed, or the expanding number of virtual machines, or the requirements of other business stakeholders that can be so burdensome. (Additionally, these companies are likely to still be paying on a per-machine basis, rather than per-host, so their expenditures may be many times more expensive than they ought to be.) And by expressly using backup that funnels data from the front-end to the back-end—all within an impossibly tight backup window—they are bound to fail. Plus, consider this: With virtualization, many VMs may be sharing the same physical resources. If every agent in every machine runs a backup at the same time (an acceptable action with physical machines), they could kill the entire host. It’s a perfect example of how the very same virtualization initiatives that were designed to increase data availability redundancy and security are now putting your data at greater risk. You live with these risks every day. You cope as nimbly and expertly as you can. You deal with frustrated end-users, hamstrung IT colleagues and exasperated C-level executives in the corner office. But through it all, do you recognize that there are proven ways to combat the threat that ongoing, sporadic data loss presents to you and your company? There are solutions that work. We urge you to investigate them, and in the process, learn how to more effectively minimize the risk of data loss and downtime in even the most complex virtualized environments. Secure data protection and access, every time, everywhere. Did you know that only 37% of companies feel they have adequate data protection plans in place for their virtual environments? It’s true. And it means there’s a huge gap between the reality we live in and the dream of consistent, reliable data protection. The good news is that you can find solutions that help you fill the gap. Wouldn’t it be ideal, for example, to have all of the following in your virtualized environment? 1. Cross-vendor choice and flexibility. When you choose a backup and recovery solution, you may not want to be locked into a single vendor. Rather, perhaps you’d prefer affordable cross-hypervisor data migration, backup and disaster recovery— executed across disparate systems, different sites and multiple vendors. Single and multiple vendor solutions can both work—the key is picking a solution that gives you a choice. 2. Speedy new technology. New technology innovations allow you to recover data with much more speed and frequency than the traditional methods you’ve relied on—up to 100 times faster than was previously possible. As a result of this speed, you can ensure that multiple VMs on a single server have a current and reliable backup available at all times. 3. Any-to-any recovery. Today, you need to be able to recover data with greater speed and frequency to, and from, any platform—and ensure that your data is always available to any system at any time. So when a system goes down, you’re able to run its workloads and restore its data on any combination of available platforms—whether it’s from failover to a replica VM, to running a VM directly from a backup. That goes for physical servers, VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, RHEV, KVM, you name it. There’s no time-consuming restore process required. Nor are there excessive expenditures—you can choose from a wide variety of recovery-time-to-cost options, all while making your applications and data totally portable. 4. Affordable, near-zero downtime. It used to be you had hours to correct a problem. Now you’re expected to be up and running in minutes, without breaking the bank with expensive redundant sites, or pricey SAN-based replication. 5. Easy migration. How about a solution that enables you to migrate applications from any server or hypervisor to any other server or hypervisor? It would enable you to maximize capacity and efficiency with any and every resource at your disposal— without the corresponding data loss that is so prevalent during migrations. And of course, you’d want the option of being able to roll back if you wanted to. 6. Reduced complexity. Think of the advantages of using the same backup solutions and policies for all your physical and virtual systems. This type of strategy will simplify data management, lower risk, and by definition, keep your data better protected. An integrated solution helps free you from the risk of a complex patchwork of point solutions. 7. Future-proof solutions. You need technology today that enables you to take advantage of the next wave of virtualization or cloud computing tomorrow— no small consideration in the rapidly-changing world of the modern data center.
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