Monday, November 29, 2010

Increasing operational complexities leave a majority of virtual machines unprotected.

Symantec has just released the findings of their 6th Annual Disaster Recovery Study conducted by Applied Research. This telephone survey covered 5000+ employees, representing 1700 enterprises. The study was supported by a series of focus groups.

Some of the key findings were:

1. 60% of those questions indicated that virtual servers were not covered by a disaster recovery plan.

2. 44% of the data on the respondents virtual systems was not regularly backed-up.

3. Of the 56% who did claim to back up there virtually hosted data, 82% backed up on a weekly or less frequent bases.

4. Only 20% of the respondents indicated that their organizational data and mission critical applications in a virtual environment was protected by replication.

5. While not specific to virtual technology, it was also noted that 72% of the respondents identified system upgrades as the largest cause of downtime (average of 50.9hrs of downtime). Where are these non-disruptive upgrades that make up much of the sales happy talk used by many equipment vendors?

We are well aware of the many advantages a virtual environment can deliver such as a more efficient use of compute resources, resource consolidation (storage, servers, infrastructure), increased environmental efficiency, deployment flexibility all of which can lead to a more supportable and sustainable growth strategy.

However, the unintended consequence of rushing to embrace virtualization has been the increase of operational complexities without the availability of pragmatic management tools. Perhaps an overly general statement but I would suggest more fact than fiction. According to the findings of this study this situation has apparently created an environment where sub-par protection methodologies have become normal practice rather than the exception.

A 95% (+/-2.4%) confidence level would suggest that the finding in this survey is representative of current operational behavior and should be raising some pointed questions by senior IT management if not the executive suite. So, the question – is the rush to embrace virtualization worth the cost of inferior data protection?

My $0.02 would be no.

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