Virtual server backups prone to failure, survey finds

High backup failure rates common in virtualized data centers, according to Symantec poll of VMworld attendees

Data backups in virtualized environments are often ineffective and inefficient, Symantec officials said after surveying users at VMworld in Las Vegas.

Thirty percent of 127 randomly selected VMworld attendees reported backup success rates of less than 60 percent when dealing with virtual servers. About 41 percent said they use at least two backup products for physical and virtual servers.

This "tool proliferation" increases management complexity, despite the fact that virtualization's key goals include simplification and consolidation, said Jason Fisher, a product management director at Symantec. Thirty-eight percent of respondents reported that the management of different tools for physical and virtual platforms is their biggest challenge "in providing high availability and disaster recovery for mission-critical applications in virtual servers," Symantec said.

Symantec hired Applied Research to conduct the survey and used the results to highlight the capabilities of its Backup Exec product line.

The survey did not reveal why backup success rates were so low with virtual servers. But products designed to back up physical boxes often don't translate well to virtual machines, Fisher said.

In addition to elevated failure rates, the survey showed users taking an inefficient approach to backing up data on virtual machines. About 57 percent back up data twice -- once for full system recovery and once for file and folder recovery. Nearly half the survey respondents are not using de-duplication for data on virtual machines, missing an opportunity to save lots of storage space.

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