Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: IBM Cloud, Containers Expo Blog

IBM Cloud: Blog Post

Backing Up Virtual Machines

What You Need to Know

Virtualization technology is continuing to be adopted for consolidating data center infrastructure and providing a more flexible platform for moving, provisioning and backing up workloads. This has put an emphasis on backup and recovery; because a single virtual host can contain several virtual machines and is even more important to not only protect the individual virtual machines but the entire virtual host. Virtualization has the same single point of failure as some cluster technologies and services: shared disk. What happens to your virtual infrastructure if you lose connectivity to your primary storage unit? The entire virtual host becomes unavailable and that can put upwards of 8-10 production workloads at risk, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

Before the adoption of virtualization, backups could be configured to backup pieces of an application, data or the operating system of a server and sometimes the entire server that included all of the above. The industry now refers to these as virtual workloads as they contain the operating system, application and usually the associated data as well. When the physical server is converted through the P2V process a virtual disk image (VMDK or VHD) is created which is used to spin up that workload as a virtual machine. So, for each virtual machine there is a corresponding virtual disk image that needs to be protected. However, backing up virtual machines is only one part of the process and the other and just as important is the recovery portion. Virtualization has actually simplified the backup and recovery process as you only need to backup virtual disk image to be able to restore as a whole versus trying to backup and recover bits and pieces of a server. Another advantage is that IT managers can usually restore that disk image to different hardware if necessary or an entirely different virtual host server.

This is where workload portability solutions have developed to easily move virtual workloads between virtual hosts for high availability. Products like VMware® vMotion, Microsoft® Live Migration provide the ability to transfer workloads in real-time between similar virtual platforms and other products like Double-Take® Move provide the ability to move virtual workloads between any virtual platforms. VMware vMotion utilizes the replication functionality of the attached storage to replicate the virtual disk images between devices while Microsoft Live Migration is built upon failover clustering technology that allows shared storage between the virtual hosts. The Double-Take Move product is more hardware and virtual vendor neutral as it allows virtual workloads to be moved in real time across any hardware or virtual platform. All of these solutions are effective backup solutions that can easily transfer the entire virtual disk image to another server and spin up quickly to minimize any interruption to production operations.

But the underlying technology to back those virtual workloads up hasn’t changed much. The processes used to backup virtual machines can be used the same as they were for physical servers and are basically broken down into hardware based replication and host based replication. Tape backup solutions aren’t addressed in this article as they have become more of an archive option and don’t meet RTO or RPO requirements necessary for virtual infrastructure. However, once the virtual disk images have been replicated to a designated backup are, tape is often used to archive those disk images to meet certain industry regulatory compliance.

  • Hardware-Based Replication – Some virtual solutions utilize the inherent replication of the direct attached storage or SAN to replicate the virtual disk images offsite to another storage device for backup. This usually uses either synchronous replication or a snapshot type technology that periodically sends scheduled updates to the virtual disk image at the target destination. Synchronous replication sends blocks of changed data and waits for a confirmation from the receiving device before sending the next block for replication. This happens pretty quickly but it usually has distance limitations and requires more bandwidth (because it sends data in blocks verses bytes). This differs from the snapshot process that is usually scheduled to send changes to the virtual disk image on a defined size or time period and only available between like devices.
  • Host-Based Replication – is an asynchronous technology that sits on the virtual host machine and replicates changes to the virtual disks as they occur and then apply on the target servers in the order of the operation they are received. Asynchronous replication is usually transmitted at byte level as well as provide additional compression in order consume less bandwidth than block level synchronous replication. Host-based replication is also more flexible because it is hardware agnostic and isn’t tied into a specific hardware or virtualization vendors, and it can be used for both physical and virtual environments.

Three Tips for Protecting Virtual Infrastructure

  • Flexible Infrastructure - If you already have a disaster recovery solution in place make sure that it is flexible enough to be used for physical and virtual server platforms. Also, make sure that you aren’t vendor locked into something that is hardware- specific and can only talk to other devices like itself. Data center managers maintain a variety of hardware and require workload flexibility to maintain solutions for every environment. Find a solution that is hardware agnostic and will fit existing design infrastructure.
  • Offsite Storage - Most companies already have a co-location facility in place or, at the very least, a satellite office that can be used to receive data offsite for disaster recovery. Whether it is a duplicate virtual infrastructure in the same data center, across the street or another country, having an up-to-date virtual workload backup provides the option for recovery when needed.
  • WAN Infrastructure - How the data is transmitted will be important when protecting your virtual infrastructure. Some synchronous hardware solutions are block-based replication and require more bandwidth and can have distance limitations. Some of the virtual products on the market use a snapshot-based technology that sends data in periodic chunks (verses only changes made to specific files) and can also saturate existing bandwidth during the transfer process. WAN accelerators from companies such as Riverbed and Silver Peak can improve bandwidth limitations.

In summary, no matter which virtualization product you select, make sure you think about protecting those servers on top of just converting to a virtual environment. Selecting a flexible data backup and recovery solution will not only help provide high availability but it can also help data center managers better maintain these systems by having the ability to provision, convert and move the systems near or far. This provides more options for deploying virtual environments, managing them on a daily basis and enabling a better backup and recovery strategy.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com

@ThingsExpo Stories
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Imagine if you will, a retail floor so densely packed with sensors that they can pick up the movements of insects scurrying across a store aisle. Or a component of a piece of factory equipment so well-instrumented that its digital twin provides resolution down to the micrometer.
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settle...
Product connectivity goes hand and hand these days with increased use of personal data. New IoT devices are becoming more personalized than ever before. In his session at 22nd Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, Nicolas Fierro, CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions, will discuss how in order to protect your data and privacy, IoT applications need to embrace Blockchain technology for a new level of product security never before seen - or needed.
BnkToTheFuture.com is the largest online investment platform for investing in FinTech, Bitcoin and Blockchain companies. We believe the future of finance looks very different from the past and we aim to invest and provide trading opportunities for qualifying investors that want to build a portfolio in the sector in compliance with international financial regulations.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
No hype cycles or predictions of a gazillion things here. IoT is here. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, an Associate Partner of Analytics, IoT & Cybersecurity at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He also discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
When shopping for a new data processing platform for IoT solutions, many development teams want to be able to test-drive options before making a choice. Yet when evaluating an IoT solution, it’s simply not feasible to do so at scale with physical devices. Building a sensor simulator is the next best choice; however, generating a realistic simulation at very high TPS with ease of configurability is a formidable challenge. When dealing with multiple application or transport protocols, you would be...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
We are given a desktop platform with Java 8 or Java 9 installed and seek to find a way to deploy high-performance Java applications that use Java 3D and/or Jogl without having to run an installer. We are subject to the constraint that the applications be signed and deployed so that they can be run in a trusted environment (i.e., outside of the sandbox). Further, we seek to do this in a way that does not depend on bundling a JRE with our applications, as this makes downloads and installations rat...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lead...
Digital Transformation (DX) is not a "one-size-fits all" strategy. Each organization needs to develop its own unique, long-term DX plan. It must do so by realizing that we now live in a data-driven age, and that technologies such as Cloud Computing, Big Data, the IoT, Cognitive Computing, and Blockchain are only tools. In her general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rebecca Wanta explained how the strategy must focus on DX and include a commitment from top management to create great IT jobs, monitor ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...