The adoption of server virtualization continues to accelerate as organizations of all sizes consolidate physical servers in an effort to rein in costs, improve application management and streamline IT operations. With those benefits comes a myriad of data protection challenges as users discover that legacy platforms are incapable of keeping up with the scale, scope and performance requirements of the virtual world. In order to keep pace with the data management needs of the virtualized data center, organizations are re-evaluating protection strategies in search of a better way to protect, manage and recover their environments.
Server virtualization demand and deployments are strong and have continued to accelerate year on year among CommVault customers, despite the ongoing economic downturn.
The results of CommVault’s annual Virtualization Survey, which polled Simpana® software customers worldwide, reveal the major factors driving this continued adoption of server virtualization technologies, as well as the top data protection challenges associated with protecting virtualized environments.
Overall, the adoption of server virtualization has increased year on year with 34 percent of the 388 survey respondents stating their server environments were 75 percent - 100 percent virtualized. VMware continues to own the lion’s share of the market vis-à-vis Microsoft and Citrix with 85 percent of those polled listing VMware as their hypervisor platform of choice.
The survey revealed the top three factors driving the adoption of server virtualization among the respondents are: the need to improve cost savings through operational efficiency, reduction of capital expenditures related to hardware purchases or licensing acquisition costs, and improved ease of management.
Survey respondents also show a groundswell of support for running business-critical applications on virtual machines in their production environment, including application servers (93%), Web servers (84%), databases (72%) and messaging applications (53%).
According to those polled, the three most cited primary concerns surrounding the deployment of data protection solutions in virtual server environments were cost, ineffective backups and lengthy and complex restore processes. As users continue to adopt and expand server virtualization, 27 percent of respondents said that improving the backup and recovery process is one of the top initiatives for 2012. In addition, 18 percent plan to make use of virtual machine replication for disaster recovery and another 10 percent said they plan to improve overall operational processes in managing virtual environments.
As virtual environments continue to be complex and heterogeneous with products from multiple vendors, integration and interoperability is important. In terms of data protection, however, 90 percent of respondents said they prefer a single backup application for virtual and physical environments. Simpana software delivers just that with the unique ability to unify backup and recovery, archive, replication, storage resource management (SRM) and search capabilities under a common code base to help users scale and protect legacy physical and virtualized server and cloud-storage environments.
Data Protection Challenges in Virtual Server Environments
According to the survey results, 46 percent of the respondents are running between 50 and 250 virtual machines, which is the same percentage reported in last year’s survey. However, 15 percent of respondents to this year’s survey stated they are running between 250 and 500 VMs versus just nine percent last year indicating that the number of users with large-scale VM deployments continues to grow.
In spite of the fact that the scale and scope of VM deployments continues to explode, a protection gap in virtual server environments remains. Only 35 percent of respondents said they are backing up all of their virtual servers.
There is also a need for improved disaster recovery. Forty-three percent of respondents are relying only on backup copies as their disaster recovery plan while 20 percent rely on hardware replication and 14 percent rely on software-based replication. Sixteen percent of respondents said they have no disaster recovery plan for their virtual environment.
Faced with these challenges, organizations are re-evaluating their data protection strategies to accommodate virtual server growth. Forty-three percent of respondents have already re-evaluated their data protection strategies as a result of their server virtualization initiatives and another 34 percent plan such a re-evaluation.
Better Restores with CommVault Simpana Software
Thirty-three percent of survey respondents require a restore or recovery for data in their virtual server environments about once per quarter. Twenty-three percent are performing recoveries about once a month and 16 percent stated that they restore data about once a week.
Most of the respondents (63%) are performing file-based restores of just a few files at a time. Twenty-three percent reported that they restore entire virtual machines.
Over a third of the survey respondents cited recovery times of four hours or less. Eleven percent reported recovery times of between two and four hours, 16 percent at between one and two hours and another 16 percent reporting recovery times of less than one hour.
Simpana software meets the need for granular, file-level restores through its single-pass backup approach.
Conducted over a 19-day period starting on July 18, 2011, the CommVault virtualization survey was sent to 16,508 individuals among CommVault’s worldwide customers, and garnered 388 responses.
Twenty-three percent of survey respondents reported IT operations as their primary area of technical responsibility with another 23 percent are responsible for server management and 16 percent listing data protection as their primary area of responsibility.
Of the survey respondents, 30 percent are employed at organizations that employ between 1,000 and 4,999 people while 18 percent work for companies with between 5,000 and 19,999 employees. An additional 22 percent stated that they work for organizations with between 100 and 499 employees.
David West, senior vice president of marketing and business development for CommVault
“There is no question that the adoption of server virtualization technology continues to accelerate as more and more enterprise organizations consolidate their business-critical applications on VMs, reinforcing the need for a modern approach to data management. CommVault Simpana software delivers the ability to protect hundreds of VMs in minutes, scales to protect the largest virtual environments and gives customers more flexibility and control all from a single, unified platform.”