Dirty little secrets of VM backup and recovery

September 27, 2010 -- In addition to improving costs and efficiency, one of the reasons that IT organizations deploy virtualization is to improve data protection. However, according to a survey of 500 IT directors, conducted by Vanson Bourne and commissioned by Veeam Software, virtual servers do not seem to be improving data protection much.

The full results of the survey won't be available until next month, but I chatted with Doug Hazelman, Veeam's senior director of product strategy, about some of the preliminary results of the survey. Here are a few snippets:

Although a virtual machine (VM) can be built and deployed in minutes, performing a full recovery of a backed-up VM still takes nearly five hours on average. That compares to an average of six hours required to recover a physical server -- not much of an improvement.

Based on the survey results, 47% of full server recoveries are being performed merely to recovery a single file or application item (as opposed to recovering just the file or application item).

Also according to the survey, 63% of IT organizations experience problems (e.g., failed media, inability to start VMs after recovery, etc.) every month when attempting to recover a server. And failed recoveries cost enterprises more than $400,000 per year on average. However -- and here's the kicker -- only 2% of all server and VM backups are tested for recoverability each year, and on average these tests are performed once every two months (which translates into as many as 60 days of bad backups).

And in a related finding, the survey respondents report that testing the recoverability of a single backup takes IT teams approximately 13 hours. Not surprisingly, IT managers report that lack of human resources is the #1 reason why they don't test the recoverability of backups more often.

One more tidbit: hardware failure is the most common reason (cited by 68% of the survey respondents) why IT organizations need to recover servers and data, followed by general IT problems such as misconfiguration (63%) and user error (56%).

You can register on the Veeam site to receive a full copy of the VMware Data Protection report when it becomes available next month.


posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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