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Breaking the Barriers to Virtualization Featured

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Now that server virtualization technologies have been proven in many environments, more people are looking at virtualization to improve the efficiency of their primary workloads in the data center. Despite the realized benefits from virtualizing non-mission-critical applications, two questions remain on the minds of IT professionals. One, since traditional backup doesn’t work in virtual environments, how can I effectively protect virtualized workloads? We are talking mission-critical applications here! Two, I know how I reduced my server infrastructure with virtualization, but I also know how my storage cost went way up as a result. So how can I reduce my storage costs while implementing server virtualization?

In a recent report from ESG on the “Impact of Server Virtualization on Data Protection,” when asked about top server virtualization initiatives for 2010, most respondents placed backup, recovery, and replication right after virtualizing more workloads. It is very well understood that server virtualization breaks traditional backup processes. The consolidation of servers and workloads is leaving very little resources for backup applications to perform data copies. In virtual server environments, CPU utilization climbs to more than 60 to 70 percent, up from an average of 20 percent in physical environments, leaving very little for the most demanding job of them all, backup. In addition network resource utilization is increased to such a degree that very little bandwidth remains for massive data transfers required by backup operations.


These facts leave IT professionals with a cautious attitude when it comes to moving their most critical applications to virtual platforms. These applications need to be backed up on a regular basis, and in many cases the backup window of these workloads is already hard to meet on physical infrastructure. Emerging technologies are addressing some of these challenges, and in many cases the solutions are virtual-infrastructure specific and don’t work across platforms. That being said, 77 percent of the ESG report respondents prefer a common backup and recovery solutions for both virtual and physical infrastructure.

A shift in the way we implement data protection is necessary. FalconStor Continuous Data Protector (CDP) is optimized to protect virtual and physical environments effectively, leveraging a storage-centric approach to data protection to capture application writes and create multiple recovery points locally and remotely. Replacing the batch backup job with a continuous process reduces both CPU and network requirements to maintain a copy of your primary workloads. The staged recovery points are application consistent and always ready for recovery, which transforms the lengthy restore process into an instant availability model, significantly improving the service levels that can be delivered.

The other barrier to server virtualization deployment is storage infrastructure costs. The proliferation of virtual servers massively increases storage capacity requirements. In addition, server virtualization requires shared storage to enable server and application mobility, and these shared storage resources are far more expensive than direct attached storage (DAS). Storage virtualization allows the consolidation of disparate storage technologies into one pool of storage resources that enables optimized utilization to reduce waste and bring the benefits of virtualization to the storage infrastructure: higher availability, data mobility, storage savings, and a full range of data protection features such as snapshots and replication. FalconStor solutions also integrate with disaster recovery (DR) tools such as VMware vCenter Site Recovery Manager to reduce DR costs by enabling heterogeneous replication between different storage platforms to allow automated failover and failback operations.

As with any new technology introduction, there is opportunity and there are challenges. Server virtualization has been proven to be a very valuable technology and offers a great opportunity to manage and deliver better services while reducing costs. The benefits of the technology by far outweigh the challenges, and we have the technology today to overcome those challenges to create more value than ever to organizations of all sizes.

To learn more about how FalconStor storage virtualization and data protection solutions for virtual server environments can help you deploy virtual servers, reduce storage costs, and increase business continuity, visit our Virtualization of Nation page 

Fadi Albatal

Fadi Albatal

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