Recent commentary in the press and, in particular, in the social community seems to call into question the reliability of image-based data protection methods. Therefore, a few of us at Vizioncore decided to reach out to some leading Industry Analysts to ask what they thought.
Our question: Do you really believe that image-based data protection is somehow "especially" prone to data corruption and consistency problems? Or, is a well-designed solution more likely to solve these problems for administration teams than traditional approaches?
Here's how one leading Analyst, Lauren Whitehouse from ESG, responded to our query. Lauren states:
"For x86 server virtualization environments, rapid image-level backup with flexible image- or item-level restore can address all [leading] challenges. It can provide non-disruptive and optimized backup, enable efficient disaster recovery strategies, and facilitate improvements in application-specific backup and recovery.”
ESG has some recent data on top virtualization initiatives from their 2010 IT spending survey. They've had over 500 IT professionals complete the survey. To participate, the IT professional had to have budget responsibility for organizations in the mid-market or enterprise space. Respondents represented the mid-market (40%) and enterprise space (60%). Respondents were in North America (70%) and Western Europe (30%).
Based on their findings, Lauren cited the following leading challenges:
“ESG research found that implementing data protection processes for server virtualization environments is a big pain point for many end-user respondents. These organizations have committed to fixing the issue this year with increased investments in solutions that improve backup and recovery of virtual machines, improving disaster recovery processes, and improving application backup and recovery.”
Meantime, our own Scott Herold has written an article to come out next month in Dell PowerSolutions. Here's an excerpt from the article:
"Image-based backup, when designed well, is a more reliable method for handling data than traditional methods. What IT teams worry about, is the integrity of the backup data copies held in the archive. Creating those copies depends on a continuous, uninterrupted write of the backup data copy. Another concern is the integrity of the application data captured, which must be consistent at a given point in time to be recoverable and usable from that point.Both problems are alleviated with a well-designed image-based data protection solution. In the first place, a well-designed image-based solution is extremely fast. Overhead is minimized by by-passing the file system to directly read a disk. Moreover, empty blocks in the image are skipped. This also creates a smaller backup copy -- in a single file -- than would be created by the traditional method of creating a backup copy of all of the thousands or millions of individual files that make up the image. Faster means that there is less time for something to go wrong. Smaller means that the backup copy can be transmitted more quickly, and stored using fewer blocks - again reducing the exposure that something could go wrong.
In terms of application data consistency, capturing an image which includes all of the application's data from a single moment in time is the definition of an image-based backup. Therefore, the odds of grabbing data at an inconsistent point is much reduced. Even in the unlikely event that the data is not consistent, it is still possible to recover and restart the application by rolling back to the nearest previous consistency point - which is captured in the backup image."
For a look at how well-designed solutions for image-based data management can simplify your world, try our trial software at: www.vizioncore.com/download.html