How server virtualisation benefits disaster recovery

server virtualization

In the IT industry, disaster recovery is one of the biggest nightmares, especially in a world where even a slow network connection can lead to such panic that you find yourself dialing the customer care executive immediately. Such disasters are usually unforeseen and disruptive. It is difficult to predict if and when you are faced with such a situation, but if it does occur, it is very likely that your business’s productivity and revenue generation will be at risk.

Earlier, any disaster recovery process was mostly handled using servers and storage units but lately businesses have come up with simpler techniques to reduce the damage caused by recovery cost and improve their ongoing processes. To reduce data center power, space, cost and cooling, business owners started investing in server and storage virtualization through consolidation that further improved the efficiency of the disaster recovery process.

In the last few decades, IT businesses have enjoyed the benefits of a game-changer technology known as ‘Server virtualization, which with its notable implications and diminished disaster effects, has made businesses more efficient and also reduced the costs of backup servers and storage, eradicated off-site equipment requirements and facilitated recovery times. Businesses constrained to a ‘physical world,’ are, however, failing to take complete advantage of this technology by keeping their virtual environment at an inefficient level despite the improvements that have been made to server virtualisation technology.

Saving money on backup servers and storage
Server virtualisation utilises virtual servers that eradicate the need of mirrored systems. Since primary virtual machine’s image is placed on a second virtual machine’s logical partition, it eradicates the requirement of duplicate equipment and reduces cost associated with cooling, power, space and management time.

Minimising data loss
Confidential data is the lifeline of any business and if it is lost, not only does it take months to recreate the entire data, but it also severely impacts business productivity, development, customer relations, personal, financial and legal development.

In cases of applications and service outages, the problems experienced by businesses include loss of sales, delayed product releases and legal liability. For a recovery procedure to be successful, you need to create short recovery point objectives (RPO). Generally, RPO is kept short to recover the data as close as possible to the system failure point, in order to minimize data loss.

In simpler words, if a system fails for say, two minutes after taking backup, the company would suffer a loss of data pertaining to just those two minutes. On the other hand, if backups are taken more frequently, RPO becomes short. For instance, if data is backed up on a Saturday and a severe outage occurs on Friday, an entire week’s worth of data will be lost.

Whereas, if data is backed up with frequent data snapshots, it becomes easy to recover it at specific points in time, which significantly reduces data loss and the overhead for prolonged backup processes.

Reducing time to recovery
The lesser the outage recovery time, better the output will be. The outage recovery time is calculated by Recovery time objective (RTO), like a ten minute RTO means employees would not be able to access messages and data for only ten minutes, however RTOs are often longer. During an outage if a company utilizes a backup server to power up and switch users, the whole process may take up to several hours.

In addition, when your IT team travels off-site to update a server configuration, RTO becomes even longer. If we talk about virtual architectures during an outage, work is automatically shifted to physical servers, thereby reducing RTO to a few minutes and this way an employee may not even notice any change.

Simplifying testing and validation
Disaster recovery processes validation when tested in a traditional environment, consumes more time than in a virtual environment. During disaster recovery, the end-user community begins to test the process by switching over to duplicate physical servers and storage. Even if the tests have a positive outcome, long recovery times can’t be overlooked.

Whereas in virtual machines testing processes don’t disrupt the production environment. Additionally, it doesn’t involve end users and tests failure automatically while allowing backup snapshots to be taken as per schedule without interrupting the normal process.

Improved Disaster Recovery
One of the major benefits of server virtualisation in business is its capability to quickly and safely move a virtual machine from one server on to another. Essential data is quickly backed up since the company can easily create a replication site.

Certain enterprise virtualisation platforms have software tools that help automate the failover during a disaster. Moreover, these tools also let you test a disaster recovery failover. Hence, if at all a data centre disaster occurs, your IT infrastructure is all set up to take the required actions and safely recover your systems.

Increased Productivity
Having less numbers of physical servers means having less to manage and maintain. Since most of the work is done on virtual machines, applications that took days or weeks to complete are now done in minutes. Because of this reason, the IT team has ample time to focus on more productive tasks such as driving new business initiatives, cutting expenses on the IT solutions and raising revenue.

Server virtualisation brings about positive transformations in your business. These include

  • Reduced hardware costs
  • Improved server provisioning and deployment
  • Better disaster recovery solutions
  • Efficient and economic use of energy
  • Increased staff productivity

The process of moving your business to a virtual infrastructure without professional guidance can be challenging. Thus, make sure that you are seeking professional guidance to get the set up right.

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