Expanding data protection to meet the challenges of VM growth

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This is part one of a two-part guest blog series on addressing the data protection challenges of working and operating in a virtual machine (VM)-intensive computing environment. Part I focuses on the ways in which automation and ease-of-use bring data protection functionality to a wider group of users. VM admins, DevOps personnel, backup and storage administrators can leverage data protection software to protect data throughout the organization.

While it’s easy to deploy VM-intensive networks, it’s not so easy to back up and restore all of the data stored inside hundreds, or thousands, of VMs throughout those networks. Data protection often requires special IT skills, and multiple data protection products – and time and cost considerations to get the job done.

Many organizations are excited about how easy it is to deploy VMs – and rightly so. Fast deployments bring business agility.

What many organizations don’t anticipate is the complexity of backups, data protection, data retrieval and data recovery. Managing VMs is more complex than one might assume. For example, IT leaders have to  worry about security, availability and the governance of data. These problems become more difficult when organizations are confronted with more demanding workloads, including mission-critical applications deployed in VMs.

Here are three questions that become top-of-mind for IT and business managers:

  • How am I going to manage backup for all of these VMs?
  • How am I going to protect security and governance of all of the data that is associated with all of these VMs?
  • How am I going to manage all of this data from so many places in the network?

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus for VM data protection

IBM recently developed a new software platform designed to bring many enterprise capabilities to scale-out, VM-intensive environments supporting demanding workloads and large datasets. This approach addresses the data storage needs of an ever-wider range of customers: small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs); value-added resellers (VARs) managing data on behalf of SMB customers; managed service providers (MSPs) delivering cloud services; and large enterprises with substantial VM-based computing environments.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus is an all-software solution that automatically backs up all VMs and application data associated with workloads running on the VMs that live inside an organization’s network. This is especially important for organizations utilizing the intensive analysis of transactional data to gain insights that drive new business.

Importantly, IBM designed this new software – built from the ground up for virtualized environments – to work in mixed environments that include both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtual machines. The presence of both of these hypervisors mirrors the mixed-vendor environments of many customers’ virtualized networks.

The ability to find, retrieve and manage data throughout a virtualized infrastructure is becoming vital to many organizations, as VMs are increasingly supporting business-critical and mission-critical workloads. Rapidly growing data from applications and databases running inside those VMs is making new demands on the capacity and manageability of data resources throughout organizations. At the same time, new sources of data – such as social media for sentiment analysis and network “edge” data generated by sensors and consumer electronics – drive more data use. This creates more data-protection challenges for many organizations.

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus: How it works

IBM Spectrum Protect Plus software includes a point-and-click interface that allows first-time users to quickly select service-level agreements (SLAs) from a predefined list in a self-service model.  The Spectrum Protect Plus software can automatically index all data for backups and VMs under management. This process creates a metadata catalog that can find, store and retrieve data for all VMs identified for protection and data recovery. The metadata catalog is replicated into many copies, preventing single-point-of-failure issues that would undermine high availability.

Customers now have the option to connect IBM Spectrum Protect Plus with IBM Spectrum Protect software, which supports the long-term archiving of data across multiple storage tiers – on disk, tape, object stores and cloud data stores. This links VM block-based data to the multi-tiered data storage resources of the enterprise data center and the cloud.

Ease of use and automation

Ease-of-use is a key design priority for data protection software that supports wider use. Graphical user interfaces (GUIs) shorten the time needed to manage data, compared with command-line management tools. Automation and ease of use make data protection more accessible to those working in data-intensive roles, such as DevOps developers and big data analysts.

The ability to quickly access a unified view of data associated with VMs is key to ensuring SLAs for applications throughout the entire organization. To be effective, data protection solutions must protect all data – both local and remote – that is vital to their business.

Part two of this blog post series discusses the business aspects of making data protection more pervasive, more efficient and more automated throughout the organization.

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