Virtual machines are now deployed as a standard in today’s IT environments. In fact, 8 out of 10 IT environments use virtual machines, and quite a lot of businesses today run only virtual environments. And this is the reason why virtual machine backup is very important, as you need to ensure that you have constant availability.
- The first thing that you should remember is that VM backup is not the same as physical machines. While you think that you can just back up virtual machines like you would a physical server using your usual backup processes, you should realize that this process could lead to several problems such as in resource limitations, licensing costs and portability. For instance, if you are using a backup software that is licensed by how many clients you are backing, then you are surely going to have high backup costs. So unless your backup software specifically supports virtual machine backup, avoid using them.
- Then you should ensure that you are able to synchronize your applications. In a virtualized environment data is active and buffered in several layers: the storage layer, the operating system, the hypervisor and of course the application layer. You need to make sure that all these layers are synchronized before backing up your virtual machines. Otherwise, you stand the risk of having inconsistent backup states.
- You also have to efficiently manage snapshots. Snapshots can easily balloon in size and if you do not manage these snapshots effectively, you can run into problems with datastore performance and capacity.
- Another thing you need to do is to test your restores. In a recent announcement, VMware reported that they found a bug in the CBT or changed block tracking process in ESXi. The bug effectively rendered all virtual machine backups exceeding 128 gigabytes corrupted. If you do not test your restores, you might think that your backups are fine, when in fact they are not.
- And not just any test, but test your backups according to a variety of virtual machine configurations. Additionally, you should be using a backup technique that helps you restore data according to your needs. For example, there are techniques that require you to restore an entire VM even if you just need one file. If you have a tight budget on deployment costs, this would not be the optimum restoration process for you.
- Lastly, you need to track and monitor your virtual machines. Compared to physical machines, virtual machines are considered transient. They usually last as long as they are needed or depending on the purpose for which they were created. In the shuffle of things, it would be very easy for you to lose track of your virtual machines and what system was used to back each of them up. The only way to counter this is to create, update and maintain documentation to help you keep track of your virtual machines in your inventory. Either that or you consider using a system that allows you to archive your virtual machines. These archives are not backups strictly speaking, but it will give you access to an old virtual machine in the future if necessary.
If you need to set up virtual machines or virtual machine backups, Four Cornerstone can help you. We offer Oracle consulting in Dallas. You work with our team of Oracle experts using the tech giant’s software and hardware. Call us today.
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