Over the past 10 years, virtualization has grown into a cost-effective way for small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) to increase the value of their investments in information technology (IT) infrastructure. Organizations have also gained new options for storing backups, ranging from high-performance tape and disk technologies to cloud services.
However, related virtual machine (VM) backup and recovery capabilities have not kept pace with this rapid growth in virtualization and storage options—especially for SMBs with limited IT resources. Those enterprise-grade server backup applications that do offer advanced VM backup features are often too complex or expensive to meet the needs of SMB customers. As a result, many smaller businesses depend on time-consuming manual processes and inadequate tools. In turn, they lack confidence in their backup applications and can struggle to quickly or fully restore virtual machines in the event of a server failure or other problem.
HPE VM Explorer is designed to address the backup and recovery needs of smaller businesses operating virtualized servers. This paper explores the challenges that arise when SMBs seek to back up data, services, and applications in virtualized environments, and explains how HPE VM Explorer can help resolve these issues.
When it comes to backing up and restoring data in environments featuring tens of virtual machines running on one or more physical servers, SMBs face at least three challenges: Technical complexity and constant updates to underlying software, meeting performance goals, and costs arising from software licensing and resourcing requirements.
- Technical complexity – To virtualize servers, businesses create VMs that operate as complete servers but are abstracted from the underlying hardware they run on. This means they can run multiple VMs on a single physical server to better utilize the machine’s computing power and storage capabilities. The most common “hypervisor” software tools for achieving this are Hyper-V from Microsoft® and vSphere from VMware®.
- Recovery point and time objectives – This can lead to excess strain on the company’s network, making it more difficult for administrators to schedule backups at convenient times, and potentially lead the business to back up data less frequently than required to meet backup and recovery targets. These targets are known as recovery point and recovery time objectives—or RPOs and RTOs—and relate to the state to which the organization would like to be able to return its system (such as to go back to four hours earlier) and how long it would take to achieve that restoration.
- Software and resourcing costs – Backup and recovery software suitable for use in virtualized environments can be prohibitively expensive for small businesses, especially if those businesses consider using backup tools built to meet the needs of large enterprises with complex IT environments. Not only can those tools be expensive to license, but the business must also consider the cost of the expert technicians required to deploy them and to operate them over time.
A successful data protection solution should allow for the rapid, reliable, and comprehensive recovery of systems and data to desired points to reduce the impact on business operations.
- Rapid backup and recovery – Backup and recovery solutions can slow businesses down in two ways. Firstly, they may require businesses to complete full backups, which as mentioned earlier, can take hours or even days to complete depending on the amount of data to be backed up. Secondly, they may include lackluster disaster recovery processes. HPE VM Explorer addresses these problems with a suite of features designed to streamline the backup and restoration process. For example, the software includes integrated job scheduling so that backups can take place when business activity is reduced.
- Reliable and easy to use –HPE VM Explorer helps SMBs with virtualized IT infrastructures to streamline their VM backup and recovery processes in several ways:
• It allows them to schedule key VM backup processes, such as incremental backups, so that they no longer require manual administration.
• It supports multiple backup targets, so that SMBs can tailor their backup processes, replicating data to a range of targets including local machines, VMware servers (including free versions of ESX), Microsoft servers, and cloud storage solutions such as Amazon S3.
• It offers an intuitive and easy-to-use Web interface with no complex menus.
• It is easy to set up and operate, and doesn’t require special training.
• It is a complete solution that allows SMBs to manage backups and replications for both their VMware and Microsoft environments from within one application.
• It performs automatic backup tests, so IT teams do not need to worry that their backups might prove unreliable in the event of a disaster.
- Affordable licensing and automation –
In the past, many VM backup and recovery solutions for virtualized environments were merely repackaged enterprise offerings that hadn’t been tailored to the unique needs and priorities of SMBs. Today, the overall maturity of virtualization technologies has led to more and more SMB-specific products becoming available and—importantly—affordable.
HPE VM Explorer is a cost-effective virtual machine backup solution for SMBs, with customers typically spending as little as one-eighth of what they would spend on an equivalent solution targeted at larger enterprises. As above, by automating many of the steps involved in reliably backing and recovering data and servers in virtualized environments, the software can also enable organizations to substantially reduce their IT administration resourcing costs.