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virtualisation backup review

I want to assign our auditors to look at the backup/restore configurations of our server estate (150 servers (2003 server/2008 server) on 15 virtual hosts ESXi 4.1, 10:1 ration (approx)).

I am not comfortable with virtualisation or network (backup/restore) operations to be able to prescribe the exact areas they should be looking at, so wondered if you could give some low tech management feedback.

My novice view is you backup the virtualisation configuration, the OS on the guest configuration, the unstructured data hosted on the guest (i.e. word files, excel spreadsheets, PST files, access DB’s etc etc), and potentially a separate job for the structured data, i.e. SQL databases, Exchange mailbox databases etc. So 4 areas that need to be included (ESXi, Guest OS, unstructured data, databases). Are there any more “categories”?

Typically how many backup processes will take place in the above setup, i.e. would it normally be:

1)      1x backup per HOST config

2)      1x backup per HOST config and 1xbackup per GUEST config on the host (so for 1 host and 15 guests, 16 unique backup operations)

3)      1x backup per HOST config, and 1xbackup per GUEST config, on the host (so for 1 host and 15 guests, 16 unique backup operations), and an additional backup job for the data both unstructured/structured

And also if you were going to do such a review yourself what are perhaps the top 5-10 things you’d include in the audit review. Is there much that can/will go wrong with backups of virtual hosts, or have you ever come across any horror stories? I did a look for technical backup audit guides but there seems a distinct lack thereof. If you have such an auditors guide that would help no end.
1 Solution
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)VMware and Virtualization ConsultantCommented:
In simple terms

1. how quickly can you restore?
2. does the restore function correctly?
3. Are you backups for Disaster Recovery or File Restore?
4. Recovery of Email Data, single emails
5. Recovery of single files
6. Recovery of databases
7. Data Retention, does it comply with your business requirements or any standards set buy your business, e.g. law firms 7 years

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