Get Tighter Control of a Mixed VM Environment and Meet Your Data Protection SLAs
Is virtualization bringing you the promised benefits of increased IT agility and reduced operating costs, or is virtualization just adding more chaos and complexity? Getting a grip on the prismatic environment of virtualized platforms – whether on-premises, in-cloud, or in some hybrid combination – is key to realizing virtualization’s benefits. To truly achieve better IT productivity, reduce costs, and meet ever more stringent service level agreements (SLAs), you need to create order out of virtualization chaos.
We’ll examine ways in which IT executives can more effectively manage a hybrid virtual machine (VM) environment, and more importantly, how to deliver consistent data protection and recovery across all virtualized platforms. The goal is to control complexity and meet your SLAs, regardless of VM container. In so doing, you will control your VMs, instead of allowing their chaos to control you!
As VMware approaches its 20th anniversary, virtualization is no longer a new or exotic concept. What is current news is that market adoption continues to grow, along with the unabated proliferation of virtualization options. The server virtualization market is expected to grow by approximately USD $8 billion by 2023, a 7% CAGR between 2017 and 2023. And shifts will undoubtedly occur among hypervisor choices.
Enterprises have embraced virtualization as a means of accelerating deployment of applications, increasing IT productivity, enhancing security, reducing costs, and enabling business continuity. But along the way, they found that virtualization is a diverse environment of local, cloud, and hybrid deployments. It’s definitely not a neatly buttoned-down, one-size-fits-all ecosystem.
Architectures and tools that once worked for a handful of on-premises VMs typically do not scale well, nor do they take full advantage of new hypervisor and cloud APIs that can optimize the protection of VM-housed data, while addressing the shortcomings of various platforms. Even more, none of them really focus on the actual application data that’s housed in your VMs, regardless of the type of VM container. But that data is your real source of business value.
Let’s explore approaches and solutions that can help reduce the complexity of your virtualized environment, with a focus on:
- Controlling VM sprawl and supporting hybrid cloud environments
- Meeting protection and recovery SLAs
- Enabling further virtualization and paving the way for more data growth
Taking Back Control
IT and VM architects are searching for VM management and protection solutions that can bring more order and control to virtualization. But each virtual environment can be vastly different from the next, in terms of size, complexity, location, and native tools. How do you support a wide range of hypervisors and storage platforms, and make it possible to achieve your desired SLAs across on-premises, cloud, and hybrid environments?
In looking for a solution that can support this diverse, hybrid cloud environment, ask yourself:
- Is it simple-to-use, or is it adding to – rather than saving – your IT staff time?
- Does it scale easily as you add more VMs to a variety of environments, and provide multiple ways in which to address them?
- Does it protect against only one type of loss scenario or does it consider disaster recovery and business continuity from multiple threats?
- Can you use this solution to efficiently manage your data across multiple environments?
- Will it support native integration with both public and private cloud platforms?
- Does it enable policy-based VM lifecycle management – from deployment to backup to archive to disposition – to control VM sprawl?
Getting better control of your VM environments requires a solution that enables you to quickly build a hybrid infrastructure and the ability to perform VM conversions and migrations across these platforms. It also requires a single-pane view into all your virtualization environments, so you can manage and protect your data, scale as needed, and free-up your IT staff to work on tasks that add actual business value.
The lion’s share of the budget bounty will be spent on hardware (31%), with software (26%), hosted/cloud-based services (21%), and managed services (15%) rounding out the tech haul this coming year.
Meeting Protection and Recovery SLAs
There are two types of VMs: Those you know about, and those you don’t. Protecting the data on your known VMs is a relatively straightforward process. But those rogue VMs – the ones generated outside of your sphere of control – they’re a different story. You’ve got data sitting there, ungoverned and unprotected, susceptible to inadvertent duplication, accidental loss, or worse. This puts you at risk.
The diversity of virtualization platforms, and the ongoing proliferation of VMs, makes it easy for VMs to sprawl outside of your corporate governance sphere. That’s why it’s vitally important for IT to recognize this risk and provide for a consistent level of data security, regardless of platform.
You’ll also want a data protection strategy that focuses on both the hypervisor layer and on the applications that reside within your VMs. This will provide thorough visibility into your VM environment, enabling you to monitor the creation of new applications, manage and retire legacy applications, and further ensure that new VMs and applications get the appropriate level of data protection.
One proven way to address this diversity and meet your SLA requirements is a hypervisor Virtual Server Agent (VSA), a software module that sits at the hypervisor level and interacts with their APIs to perform protection and recovery of VMs and their data without using agents. When looking at a VSA, you need to know:
- Can the VSA meet the service level-based data management and protection plans that align with your business initiatives?
- Does it work in conjunction with application agents if/when needed, to provide application awareness?
- Does it take full advantage of the native hypervisor, while providing enhancements for those APIs that might require it?
- Is it capable of meeting shorter recovery point objectives (RPO) and recovery time objectives (RTO) for both operational recovery and disaster recovery, all from within a single platform?
- Will it meet your SLAs for protection in public cloud platforms with the same level of effectiveness as in your on-premises or private cloud environments?
Meeting recovery SLAs also requires a high level of integration with major cloud platforms, enabling greater cross-cloud management and portability. You need to be able to move data seamlessly and easily, into the cloud, across clouds, and even back from the cloud. This helps you to control data within your IT policies, helping to keep “shadow IT” from occurring within your organization. You also need to be able to back up your data, applications, and VMs in one format, and then recover them in another — regardless of which formats you choose. This helps ensure flexibility to accommodate changes that may occur in the future.
Scalability. How Does IT Love Thee?
Let us count the ways in which scalability enables further virtualization and paves the way for the inevitability of data growth. Given the diversity of VM environments, a data management and protection solution that scales easily (and agentlessly) to support a wide range of virtual and cloud environments – and potentially 1000s of VMs – is a must-have. This is especially important when architecting the virtualization roadmap for your organization. And since the rate of data scale moves faster and faster, you also need to be thinking about using multiple optimized approaches for the data in VMs: incorporating hardware snapshots, deduplicating data at the source to minimize data movement, and automatically incorporating application aware plug-ins when needed. That is the essence of scalability.
Standalone data protection products are expensive to implement, don’t scale easily, consume lots of duplicate resources, and lack unified management capabilities. The ‘rip and replace’ practice no longer aligns with a modern virtualization environment, and wastes IT budget. The same protection platform should be able to recover your VMs and their data from multiple outages and multiple locations – with quick operational recovery within the four-walls of the datacenter, and confident disaster recovery from outside your data center. And with a scalable solution that supports a diverse VM environment, newly created VMs are automatically protected by default policies, while your back-end resources are balanced for performance. This eliminates tedious, manual data protection processes, and saves valuable IT time and resources. Even better, no VM gets left behind.
VM Simplicity and Control = SLA Success
The bottom line? Despite considerable challenges, it is possible to restore order to your virtualization chaos. Look at your VM environment today. If inefficient standalone products are making it difficult to meet your SLAs, step back and look at the technology landscape. With a data management and protection solution that scales easily in hybrid environments – one that can support a variety of hypervisors, in both on-premises and cloud deployments – you’ll have the tools you need to simplify the management of your virtualized environments, and optimize your SLA performance. And with an easy-to-use virtualization dashboard, coupled with intuitive policy-based protection interface, you’ll have everything you need to optimize your SLA performance.
Protect, Monitor and Manage Your Virtualized Data
Read about the six ways you can improve data management across physical, virtual and cloud environments.
- Market Research Future, Global Server Virtualization Market Study, October, 2017
- 2017 State of the Cloud Report, RightScale, 2017
- Datamation and CIO Insight survey of 223 IT decision makers from large organizations