Welcome!

IBM Cloud Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, 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
IoT solutions exploit operational data generated by Internet-connected smart “things” for the purpose of gaining operational insight and producing “better outcomes” (for example, create new business models, eliminate unscheduled maintenance, etc.). The explosive proliferation of IoT solutions will result in an exponential growth in the volume of IoT data, precipitating significant Information Governance issues: who owns the IoT data, what are the rights/duties of IoT solutions adopters towards t...
With the introduction of IoT and Smart Living in every aspect of our lives, one question has become relevant: What are the security implications? To answer this, first we have to look and explore the security models of the technologies that IoT is founded upon. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nevi Kaja, a Research Engineer at Ford Motor Company, discussed some of the security challenges of the IoT infrastructure and related how these aspects impact Smart Living. The material was delivered interac...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. 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, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, neural networks. We’re in the midst of a wave of excitement around AI such as hasn’t been seen for a few decades. But those previous periods of inflated expectations led to troughs of disappointment. Will this time be different? Most likely. Applications of AI such as predictive analytics are already decreasing costs and improving reliability of industrial machinery. Furthermore, the funding and research going into AI now comes from a wide range of com...
We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st Int\ernational Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex software systems for startups and enterprises. Since 2009 it has grown from a small group of passionate engineers and business...
SYS-CON Events announced today that GrapeUp, the leading provider of rapid product development at the speed of business, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company, specialized in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market acr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ayehu will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara California. Ayehu provides IT Process Automation & Orchestration solutions for IT and Security professionals to identify and resolve critical incidents and enable rapid containment, eradication, and recovery from cyber security breaches. Ayehu provides customers greater control over IT infras...
In his session at Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, an entertainment executive/TV producer turned serial entrepreneur, presented a success story of an entrepreneur who has both suffered through and benefited from offshore development across multiple businesses: The smart choice, or how to select the right offshore development partner Warning signs, or how to minimize chances of making the wrong choice Collaboration, or how to establish the most effective work processes Budget control, or how to ma...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.