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Evolving your Virtualization Strategy

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Is your company's data protection keeping pace with virtualization? Here are 7 dynamic ways to adapt to rapid breakthroughs in technology.

As virtualization technology marches forward, your IT strategy needs to keep up?


What a decade it’s been. From the earliest days of server virtualization over 10 years ago, to the heterogeneous, multiple hypervisor world of today — virtualization has brought enormous changes to IT. Through it all, you’ve been asked to adapt to new technologies and processes—and to survive and thrive in an environment in which change is not the exception, but the norm. Now, as virtualization matures, and we enter the next phase of virtualization — namely, the cloud — it’s wise to pause and ask yourself some important questions:

Is your IT strategy keeping pace with the rapid changes brought about by virtualization? How about for one year down the road? Two years? Or more? And specifically, can your IT strategy help you carry out one of the most important missions in maintaining your company’s success — protecting the vital, mission-critical data that is so essential to every aspect of your business operations?
 

To evolve your IT strategy properly, simply follow these 7 useful guidelines:


1. Conduct a virtualization maturity assessment, then develop and implement best practices. If you’re preparing for a move to the cloud (and even if you aren’t), you may discover that you’re not prepared to keep pace with the demands that an agile virtualization infrastructure requires. In which case, you need to initiate a self-administered maturity assessment of your operation to determine your state of readiness and need. Or, turn to a technology partner to carry out the assessment. Either way, be prepared to develop, implement and evolve a series of best practices for your virtualization management efforts.

2. Look for holistic tools for backup and recovery. Once upon a time, using hypervisor point tools for backup and disaster recovery (DR) was deemed sufficient. No longer. Now, it’s wise to investigate holistic management platforms that will support multiple hypervisors, physical machines, storage snapshots and the cloud — in short, everything you’ll use and/or need for data protection in the IT environment of the future (see #6).

3. Plan and test your disaster recovery. Does your business have the resiliency to come back from the once-in-a-lifetime data loss catastrophe that can alter your career? It better — because these events can and do happen. And remember, when assessing your DR plans, you need to rigorously test your recovery assumptions. All too often, this step is overlooked or bypassed — until it’s too late.

4. Go beyond consolidation, and steer your efforts toward business-essential applications. You’ve already virtualized the simple workloads when you consolidated servers. Now you need to take the next step (if you haven’t already) and look at what it takes to virtualize the complex applications that are the lifeblood of your business. For example, you’ll be able to make that high-performance SQL database at the core of your operations more mobile, so it can be more easily moved, protected and duplicated. Likewise for taking those collaboration tools that are essential for project execution and management — and making them safer and more reliable. And so on and so on, as you prepare to protect every vital app that drives your business.

5. Be aware of budgets and costs, and make your case to the CFO. Data protection in a virtual environment isn’t free, nor does it come cheaply. That’s why, with budget restrictions and constriction more prevalent than ever, you need to be able to make a business case for extending and deepening your virtualization efforts. That means you need to track the cost of managing and maintaining a VM on a yearly basis. You need to know the cost of deploying a new virtualized app. And you need to be well versed in all the other costs that are apportioned from your operating budget. Chances are, your finance department is looking over your shoulder. To convince them to invest more in IT (and give you the funds necessary for virtualized data protection), you need to speak their language.

6. Investigate which vendors offer you virtualization backup solutions that are optimal for your business. In general, there are several rules of thumb to go by:

  • Employ a single solution for data protection and disaster recovery (DR) for physical and virtual servers.
  • Give yourself the choice of protecting your data by backing up from the host, or backing up from within the VM.
  • Put an automatic disaster recovery plan in place, and simplify your restore operations, with a solution that’s specifically tailored to the needs of businesses like yours.
  • Implement full-scale or file-level recovery for both agent-less and agent-based backups.
  • Take advantage of integrated deduplication for saving disk capacity and reducing network traffic.
  • Utilize powerful migration capabilities that enable you to go physical-to-virtual, virtual-to- virtual, virtual-to-physical, and to and from the cloud.
  • Maximize your flexibility with a vendor-neutral solution that doesn’t lock you in — and instead, gives you cross-hypervisor data migration, backup and DR.

7. Peer into the future, and seek out solutions that will evolve with your company. It’s the way to maintain your rigorous standards for data protection as new IT technologies and processes are introduced in the years to come.
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Author:Acronis
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